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Jay Penske still needs engines for 2 cars at Indy
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Katherine Legge returned to America to race in the Indianapolis 500.
So far, she's been watching film, studying data and bugging engineers with questions. The problem: Legge and teammate Sebastien Bourdais were still looking for engines as practice opened Saturday.
Twenty-six drivers made it onto the 2.5-mile oval. Meanwhile, Dragon Racing's garage remained idle for the third straight day and will likely be following the same script Sunday afternoon when practice is scheduled to resume.
"It is frustrating," said Legge, a rookie who could have been on Indy's track Thursday and Friday, too. "It's certainly not the ideal way to start the biggest race of my career. I would like to be fully prepared and up to speed. But all of the things that are going on, I can't control and I know Jay is doing his best to work out the situation."
How all this will be resolved before next weekend's qualifying is anybody's guess.
Bourdais, a four-time Champ Car points winner, has finished 21st, ninth, 17th and 18th in this season's first four races. Legge, a rookie from England, has a season-best finish of 19th.
The sub-par performances are at least partly because Jay Penske's team had been using the struggling Lotus engines. Penske is trying to find a more competitive engine.
Two other Lotus teams -- Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Bryan Herta Autosport -- were released from their contracts last month. That leaves Lotus with only two drivers attempting to make Indy's 33-car starting grid, former Formula One driver Jean Alesi and Switzerland's Simona de Silvestro. Dreyer & Reinbold has since merged its operations with Panther Racing and has renamed the team Panther/DRR Racing.
Penske also has filed a $4.6 lawsuit against the engine-manufacturer, accusing Lotus of damaging the team's reputation by spreading "especially outrageous" falsehoods, failing to deliver two chassis and hurting its ability to be competitive.
The team owner has spent most of the week away from the track looking for new engines as a smattering of crew members work on computers in the team's garage. Legge joined the small group Saturday.
Most of those in Gasoline Alley believe Penske's father, IndyCar icon Roger Penske, will find a way to get his son the more powerful Chevrolet engines. Roger Penske's team has won all four races this season with Chevys.
"He's got a daddy with Chevrolet, right?" team owner and four-time Indy winner A.J. Foyt said. "If him and his daddy can't get it done, nobody can."
But Legge said the team has only heard the same speculation and that they haven't been given any indication when the team will start practicing.
It's unclear what will happen if Jay Penske can't work out a deal soon.
With the two Dragon drivers, Indy officials have 33 announced driver-car combinations -- enough to fill the traditional starting grid, but not enough to bump cars out of the May 27 race.
Legge is convinced Penske can work something out to get both drivers in the race.
Until then, Legge and Bourdais will continue cramming.
"We're doing as much as we can with regard to filming cars on the race track, comparing cars, working with the simulator, looking at data, asking questions," Legge said. "This is a whole new ballgame, and we're trying to learn as much as we can from outside the car."
By Donald Lambro
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