Rutherford offers advice to Indy 500 rookies
American open wheel legend Johnny Rutherford has offered some succinct but sage advice to rookie drivers ahead of the Indianapolis 500 scheduled for Sunday.
Speaking at the annual rookie luncheon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway put on by the American Dairy Association, Rutherford told the five Indy 500 debutants it was imperative to get to the chequered flag.
Matt Brabham (Pirtek Team Murray), Alex Rossi (Andretti-Herta), Max Chilton (Chip Ganassi Racing), Stefan Wilson (KV Racing) and Spencer Pigot (Rahal Letterman Lanigan) all absorbed the advice of the three times Indy 500 champion.
“The best advice I’d ever heard given and I give it all the time to new drivers is, finish, just finish the race,” Rutherford said.
“If you do that you will put a star beside your name for the team owners.
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Rutherford, the former Pace Car driver for the IRL, said another crucial piece of advice for a debutant was to make sure they could accomplish a passing move without any element of doubt.
“Working with the Indy Racing League and testing new drivers, I always used to tell them especially here (IMS) if you are racing for a position or in a crowd, if you only think you can then don’t.
“That’s the other key thing I like to say to rookies because they’ve got 500 miles to go here.
“It’s three hours in that stinking hot thing so you better prepare yourself.”
Rossi, the fastest rookie driver in the field, will start from the middle of row four in 11th after just missing out on the Fast 9 shootout for pole position earlier in the week.
The Californian native was surprised at how much the wind and temperature conditions affected the performance of the car at The Brickyard.
“The biggest thing I’ve noticed is how things change with the wind and track temperature,” Rossi said.
“You go into Turn 1 and end up in Kentucky and you go ‘okay’. Everyday is a learning experience that’s for sure.”
Rossi collected a haul of awards at the lunch including a $5000 cheque from the American Dairy Association.