Indy 500 legends explain what ‘The Brickyard’ means to them

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With the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 now almost here, NBC Sports recently reached out to several Indy 500 winning drivers and owners, to hear their thoughts on what makes the race such a special event.  Click the links below to see what each Indy 500 legend had to say:

THE 103RD INDIANAPOLIS 500: Click here for how to watch, full daily schedules

Mario Andretti

For Mario Andretti, winning the Indianapolis 500 was the realization of a 13-year-old boy’s dream. He lauded the tradition of the race that other major sports events just can’t match.

Click here for Mario’s thoughts on what makes the Indy 500 so special to him

Michael Andretti

Five-time Indy 500 winning owner Michael Andretti shared with NBC Sports his first memories of the race from 1969 when his father won and described IMS as “sacred ground” where finishing first is what everyone dreams about.

Click here so see why the Indy 500 means so much to Michael

Roger Penske

Roger Penske remembered his first Indy 500 victory as a “game-changer” for his racing team, and the 17-time winning owner calls Indianapolis Motor Speedway the “foundation of all racing.”

Click here for to hear from the most successful owner in Indy 500 history

Bobby Unser

“If these bricks could talk, you wouldn’t believe what they’d say,” Bobby Unser, three-time Indianapolis 500 champion and the second-oldest man ever to win the Indy 500, said.

Click here for “Uncle Bobby’s” thoughts on “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”

Dario Franchitti

Three-time Indy 500 champion Dario Franchitti explained to NBC Sports why The Brickyard means so much and touched on the family ties that bind Indianapolis Motor Speedway year after year.

Click here for three-time champ’s thoughts.

Rick Mears

Four-time Indianapolis 500 champion Rick Mears said that his success at IMS surpassed his wildest dreams, and that he didn’t understand what it meant initially to win the “Super Bowl” of IndyCar.

Click here to for the thoughts of a four-time Indy 500 champion. 

Johnny Rutherford

Three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Johnny Rutherford explained to NBC Sports why Indianapolis Motor Speedway is “just the place to be” every Memorial Day weekend.

Click here for “Lone Star JR’s” thought’s

Parnelli Jones

Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones explained why that fateful day in 1963 was “the greatest thing [he] could do” and that he’ll “never have a better day than the day [he] pulled into victory lane.”

Click here to see what the 1963 winner had to say 

Coverage of the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 begins Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN, then moves over to NBC at 11:00 a.m. ET.

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F1 tests: Mercedes innovates with wheel adjustment system

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MONTMELÓ, Spain — Veteran Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest time on the second day of Formula One preseason testing on Thursday, but Mercedes still garnered more attention by introducing an innovative wheel adjustment system.

On-board footage showed defending champion Lewis Hamilton pulling the steering wheel back and forth on the front straight to apparently change the angle of the front wheels on his Mercedes car.

The team stayed tight-lipped about the car’s new feature but guaranteed it was “safe” and “legal.”

“I probably won’t shed a great deal more light than what you saw on the TV but yeah we have a system in the car, it’s a novel idea,” team technical director James Allison told F1 TV. ”We’ve got a name for it, it’s called DAS, if you’re interested, and it just introduces an extra dimension for the steering, for the driver, which we hope will be useful during the year. But precisely how we use it and why we use it, that’s something we will keep to ourselves.”

Allison said governing body FIA knew in advance that the team was introducing the new system.

“It’s something we’ve been talking to them (about) for some time,” he said. “The rules are pretty clear about what’s permitted on steering systems and we’re pretty confident that it matches those requirements. I’m pleased we got it on the car, it seems to be useful, and we’ll see over the coming days how it benefits us.”

Hamilton said he was still trying to get used to the system, but praised the team for coming up with the innovation.

“I’ve only had one morning on (it, so) I don’t really have a lot to talk about with it. We’re trying to get on top of it, understand it, but safety-wise no problem today and the FIA are OK with the project.

“For me it’s really encouraging to see that my team is continuing to innovate and stay ahead of the game, and I think that’s down to the great minds in the team and so hopefully that’ll work to our benefit.”

Hamilton led the time charts on Wednesday but was only ninth-fastest on Thursday.

MORE: Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas fastest in Day 1 of F1 practice
MORE: Sergio Perez fastest early on Day 2 of F1 Practice

The 40-year-old Raikkonen, who has a chance this season to break the record for most race starts in F1, was fastest with a time of 1 minute, 17.091 seconds in his Alfa Romea. He was 0.2 seconds quicker than Sergio Pérez with Racing Point. Daniel Ricciardo of Renault was third.

Raikkonen caused a red flag near the end of the afternoon session when his car stopped on the track with an apparent mechanical issue. The Finnish driver had spun earlier in the session, as did Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes, Romain Grosjean of Haas and Pierre Gasly of Alpha Tauri, formerly known as Toro Rosso.

Grosjean had the most laps among the 13 drivers who went to the track on Thursday, with 158.

Bottas was the slowest driver of the day, while Sebastian Vettel was sixth-fastest with Ferrari.

Pérez had set the quickest time in the morning session. The Mexican driver had been third fastest on Wednesday, behind Hamilton and Bottas.

Drivers will be back on the track on Friday to close out the first week of testing. Teams will have another three days to test next week.

Preseason testing has been reduced from eight to six days to help compensate for the record 22 races on the calendar, including a new Vietnam Grand Prix and the return of the Dutch GP. Midseason testing also has been eliminated.

The season opens on March 15 at the Australian GP.

The Barcelona-Catalunya track will host the Spanish GP on May 10.