INDIANAPOLIS (May 18, 2011) – Persistent mist and overcast skies canceled Wednesday’s practice session for the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500-Mile Race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

That left all IZOD IndyCar Series drivers and their cars either on pit lane or inside the garages in Gasoline Alley, including Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM) teammates Townsend Bell, driver of the No. 99 Herbalife24 Dallara/Honda/Firestone, and Alex Tagliani, driver of the No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

Speedway officials nearly had the track completely dry and ready for practice at around 3 p.m. EDT, but a heavy mist moved into the Indianapolis area and ended any hope of cars taking to the 2.5-mile oval. It marked the second consecutive day of little or no activity at the Speedway as 50-degree temperatures, moderate winds and overcast skies yesterday kept all but Marco Andretti and Mike Conway on the sidelines.

Tagliani’s lap of 39.8445 seconds at 225.878 mph that he posted in Monday’s practice session remains the fastest lap of the month.

Practice resumes Thursday from noon to 6 p.m. EDT.

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

How hard is it to sit through a two-day delay in on-track activity?

“I’m used to it now. As long as I’ve driven a little bit this month, I feel fine at least in terms of knowing what I’ve got and knowing that we’re strong. So, the anxiety is much less, especially having done this for a few years. You learn rain is always going to be an issue.”

What kind of advice would you give a younger driver who perhaps needs the track time?

“I don’t know if it’d be so much the younger guys as it would be the guys who in their first couple of runs felt they really needed to work on the car a lot more. If I was in that situation, I’d really be hoping to get out there and keep making adjustments.”

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

What are your thoughts on not running today?

“The weather is a concern, obviously. If we had been struggling from the get-go and the car was hard to drive with no speed, we would be praying for sun. At the same time, we know what we have. We know what the car is capable of doing.  It’s too early to say we are going to be contenders, but we are pretty pleased with the pace of the car. In regards to the weather, we are definitely going to be ready and make sure we are out there running when we need to be to make sure we are in the window for qualifying. It (the rain) is more of a shame for the fans than for us.”

Notes of Interest:

  • Age-old question: Alex Tagliani is looking to become the fifth driver to win the Indianapolis 500 at age 37. He would join Wilbur Shaw (1940), George Robson (1946), Graham Hill (1966) and Dario Franchitti (2010). Tagliani would also become the second driver from Canada to win the ‘500,’ joining 1995 winner Jacques Villeneuve. 

Busy guy: Bryan Clauson will make his Firestone Indy Lights debut in the May 27 Freedom100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. That will most certainly not be the only race throughout the next two weeks for the 2010 United States Auto Club (USAC) National Midget champion. He will compete in a USAC Sprint Car race on May 20 at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway followed by a USAC Midget race one night later at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind. On May 22 he will compete at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway in the facility’s weekly sprint-car race. After three days off, he’ll take to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Freedom 100 practice and qualifying on May 26 before driving in the Hut Hundred USAC Midget race at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track. One day later he’ll compete in the Freedom 100 in the afternoon and the Hoosier Hundred USAC Silver Crown race that night at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis. The Noblesville, Ind., native will then drive in the USAC Midget “Night Before The 500” race at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis (formally Indianapolis Raceway Park) before attending the 95th Indianapolis 500 the next day.