INDIANAPOLIS (May 27, 2011) – Sam Schmidt Motorsports drivers Alex Tagliani and Townsend Bell ended up second and 12th, respectively on the speed chart following Friday’s final one-hour practice session for the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. 

Tagliani, driver of the No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins Dallara/Honda/Firestone for SSM, posted the second fastest lap of the day around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a time and speed of 40.0464 seconds at 224.739 mph. The Canadian’s quick lap came on the 32nd of his 42 total trips around the 2.5-mile oval.

Bell turned 40 laps in the No. 99 Herbalife24 Dallara/Honda/Firestone for SSM and was the 12th-fastest driver of the day with a lap of 40.2130 seconds at 223.808 mph. The hot lap came on the ninth of his trips around the ‘World Greatest Race Course.’

Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon turned the fastest lap of the day when he toured the famous oval in 39.9159 seconds at 225.474 mph. Tagliani was second followed by Dixon’s teammate, Dario Franchitti, who was third at 40.0609 seconds at 224.658 mph. A.J. Foyt Racing’s Vitor Meira (40.0927 seconds at 224.480 mph) and Bryan Herta Autosport’s Dan Wheldon (40.0999 seconds at 224.439 mph), rounded out the top-five. 

The 95th Indianapolis 500 will take place at noon EDT on Sunday, May 29 and will be broadcast live on ABC beginning with its pre-race show at 11 a.m.

Alex Tagliani, Driver of the No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins Dallara/Honda/Firestone for Sam Schmidt Motorsports:

Overall thoughts on Carb Day and the month? 

“It was an amazing week that we had last week. We’re really fortunate that we rolled the car off the trailer fast. The team has done a great job to fine-tune it. Every day we were out there, and we were strong. So it’s been a pleasure for me to drive a very competitive car. Today it was nice to be back on track. Obviously, we have a very different car that we’re going to drive in the race. And I feel the car is very racey. I love it in traffic. It got some consistency out of the car on the older tires. So I don’t know. It seems to me to be unreal and too good to be true sometimes. But I want to think that we deserve it. We did everything better than everyone else, and hopefully it will continue. All winter long, the team fine-tuned the car. They just put their love into it and brought it back this year. Same car, same aerodynamic package, same track, and the car did better. So Penske and Ganassi have done that 10 years in a row. They have done the particular program that we have done for one race 10 years in row: Have a good car and keep improving it every year. And we’re trying to close the gap in a year and a half. It’s not an easy task.”

Townsend Bell, Driver of the No. 99 Herbalife24 Dallara/Honda/Firestone for Sam Schmidt Motorsports:

Overall thoughts on final practice?

“The car feels great. We still have a few little adjustments we want to do, but overall it felt really good. We were pretty racy out there. Now we start thinking about how we want to race and see what we learned from that last run and keep an eye on the weather.”

Rob Edwards, Team Manager of the No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins Dallara/Honda/Firestone for Sam Schmidt Motorsports:

Overall thoughts on final practice?   

“I think final practice went very well. We achieved everything on the list that we had to achieve. We had some things that we thought would help us for the race that we didn’t have a chance to try last week with all the track time that was lost to rain. The guys were very efficient in getting through those things this morning. Obviously conditions are going to be very different on race day than they were today, so we’re careful in taking what we learned and applying it to Sunday. Everything we wanted to get through, we got through and we’re happy with the car.”

Gerald Tyler, Race Strategist of the No. 99 Herbalife24 Dallara/Honda/Firestone for Sam Schmidt Motorsports:

Overall thoughts on final practice?   

“The car ran solid and we had no real issues. We’ll look at the data we collected and just prepare for the race. We have a lot of data to go through to see if we can improve for the race. Basically we’ll just study data between now and the race.”