AT LEAST IT’S DRY – the weather, humor and statistics.

Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it started out gray and overcast, but dry – the operative word being dry. Late Thursday night it bucketed during the thunder and lightning storm. During the morning the sun was mostly unsuccessful in peeking through. To wile away the time before the noon start of the six-hour Indy Racing League IndyCar Indianapolis 500 practice, the media had the Team Penske media conference.

Team Penske has had fourteen Indy 500 victories, and another one this year would mean, among other things to owner ROGER PENSKE, that he could change his personalized vehicle license plate from ‘1 INDY 14’ to ‘1 INDY 15.’ But seriously folks, Penske said that people expect more of his team (after 14 wins) so there’s more pressure to succeed, even more so now,  with the good finishes so far this year including RYAN BRISCOE’s win at St. Petersburg, WILL POWER’s pole position and runner-up finish at Long Beach, and HELIO CASTRONEVES’ second place finish at Kansas Speedway last weekend

TOWNSEND BELL of San Francisco was announced as the third Kv Racing Technology driver for the Indianapolis 500. He will be racing No.8 Herbalife, joining regular KV driver, Brazilian MARIO MORAES/No.5 Votorantim and KV driver for the Indy 500 – Canadian PAUL TRACY/No.15 GEICO.

Bell, who will be running his third Indy 500, will not be on track this weekend. He’s one of several drivers/teams who have ‘second week’ engine deals. Others include second cars for Conquest Racing and Dale Coyne Racing, the third car for A.J. Foyt Enterprises, and a car for Rahal Letterman Racing. RHL was thought to be announcing Thursday that ORIOL SERVIA of  Spain would be its driver, but so far, no news.

Three drivers/teams have first week engine deals – A.J. FOYT IV/No.41 AJ Foyt Enterprises, SCOTT SHARP/No.16 Tequila Patron Panther Racing, and PAUL TRACY/No.15 KV Racing Technology. Sharp has a conflict next weekend with his regular season ride with the Patron Highcroft LMP2 Honda Acura in the American Le Mans Series race at Miller Motorsports Park.

Honda is the sole engine supplier for IndyCar. The engines are leased and at this point, Honda said there are 34 engine deals for the Indy 500.

There are 41 drivers listed on the Entry List so far, several as TBA. While the majority of the entered drivers have T or backup cars, several do not: E.J. VISO/No.13 PDVSA HVM Racing; BUDDY LAZIER/No.91 Hemelgarn Johnson; Rookie NELSON PHILIPPE/No.00 i drive green HVM Racing; and ALEX LLOYD/No.99 HER Energy CGR/SSM Racing (Chip Ganassi Racing and Sam Schmidt Motorsports).

Of those with no backup cars, only Viso is running the full 2009 IRL schedule. Fisher has a backup car for herself and is running selected races, but the second Fisher car has no T car; and the other three drivers are only running the Indy 500 – Lazier, Philippe and Lloyd.

Bell is one of 12 American drivers on the Entry List so far. Other countries represented are: Brazil-5; England-4; two each for Australia, Canada and Venezuela; and one each from France, Japan, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and Scotland.

DANICA PATRICK/No.7 Andretti Green Racing is a marketing machine. Now she’ll be featured everywhere in a black cat suit, sporting a Milk Mustache – only the second race car driver to be involved in the 14-year old Body by Milk program. NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, JEFF GORDON was the first, in 1997.  Patrick is quick to admit she’d like to carry the milk connection further by drinking it in the Winner’s Circle at this year’s Indianapolis 500, as is the tradition.

And speaking of 29-year old Patrick – one of three females entered in the 2009 Indy 500 – her contract with Andretti Green Racing is up at the end of this year. So expect more of the silly season rumors to surface regarding where next she will race. It’s not surprising that those recurring NASCAR rumors are being heard…again.