"Welcome to Groundhog Day!" said Conquest Racing driver Pippa Mann, expressing the frustrations of all the IndyCar drivers who spent yet another day standing around the pit lane and garage area of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway without managing to turn a single lap.

"Actually, today wasn't quite Groundhog Day because we did get as far as pit lane," Mann corrected herself. "I actually got as far as being strapped into my car before it started to rain again. One minute to green - I'm sitting there, and suddenly the rain started coming down all around me, so we headed back to the garage area."

Rain had been falling since the morning, and track staff worked hard throughout the day to try and keep the track in a salvageable state. When the rain finally stopped falling in the middle of the afternoon, it looked as though cars might actually get some track time.

Then, just one minute before the track was scheduled to open, more rain swept in over the north end of the track. It was heavy enough - and sufficiently late in the day at approaching four o'clock - to make it impossible for the track staff to rescue the situation a second time, and officials duly called it quits and sent everyone home.

It's the second time this week that the Indianapolis 500 has lost a complete practice day to rain, after Sunday's session was totally washed out. The last time the Indy 500 lost two full days of practice to rain was in 2006.

But that doesn't tell the whole story, since half of the Opening Day session on Saturday was also curtailed by rain, and then all teams and drivers also sat out Tuesday because of bracingly cold and windy conditions that bore no relation to the expected conditions for qualifying and Race Day. That means that in the first five days of practice, the cars have only seen one and a half days of actual on-track activity.

Practice in such anomalous conditions isn't just pointless, it is also potentially dangerous both in the sense of the risk of cold tyres resulting in a costly accident against the wall, and because any lessons learned in such conditions could completely mislead teams trying to find a set-up that will work during the anticipated warmer weekend.

Today's rain was another matter entirely, and the track was officially under caution all day until the session was abandoned at 4.04pm.

"Two days in a row of not getting on track is kind of a bummer," said Will Power, the dismal climate defeating even the Penske driver's natural Aussie optimism.

"It's frustrating, but knowing we have such good data to fall back on here at Team Penske keeps us from getting too anxious just yet," his team mate Ryan Briscoe chipped.

"Another wet day," rued Dreyer & Reinbold Racing driver Justin Wilson. "We tried to get out there and we took the Z-Line Designs car out to pit lane, but every time it looked like we were close to going out, it would start raining again. It's not good conditions. You didn't want to be caught out on track when it started to sprinkle like that.

"It's disappointing because it's another day gone, but hopefully from here the weather will get better and we will be able to get some good running in. At least this way we are not going to be restricted on miles or tyres; we can do all of the running we want once the weather clears up."

His team mate for Indy, Davey Hamilton, picked up the tyre theme. "On the program that we have, we are getting back on pace with everybody else with our tyre allotment, so I'm not sure if this helps us or hurts us or what, but it's the same for everybody." After finishing 25th on Monday following the week's only full day of practice so far, Hamilton said he'd been keen to try out some tweaks the team had made: "We made some changes to the HP car, and we were anxious to go try them."

Dreyer & Reinbold's third driver, Paul Tracy, was staying upbeat. "I would be more upset if we were struggling, but I think that we are in a pretty good position to put it in on the first day. I think our cars are strong, and I'm not overly upset about not being able to get out on track. We can't control what the weather does."

It was more of a concern for those drivers new to the Indianapolis 500, like Dragon Racing's Scott Speed. "As a rookie, having less track time is definitely not the best thing in the world. It definitely makes things a little more difficult," he confessed. "There's nothing extra you can really do to prepare for the race, but I feel good right now. I think we're making good moves and going about everything intelligently. I can't ask for anything more right now. At this point, it's all about track time. I mean, we're just waiting."

After sitting out so much time on previous days, even the most assiduous and conscientious team was running out of things to do, data to study and settings to tweak without any fresh running to work with, and there were signs of some of the denizens of pit lane and Gasoline Alley starting to lose it just a little bit, resulting in an outbreak of competitive "planking" sweeping up drivers and teams.

All in all, "Planking Day" was about the only highlight of a deeply dull and frustrating day for everyone, which even saw the time trials for teams to qualify for the remaining slots in the IZOD Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge were rained out.

The forecast for Thursday and Friday is for much warmer conditions - into the 80s on Friday, from low 50s today - and generally dry, meaning that teams should finally get some decent practice running.

"It's going to make the next few days pretty insane, not just for us but for everyone," said Pippa Mann. "The track is going to be extremely busy, and it's going to be fairly intense. But, to use an American phrase, it is what it is!"

Unfortunately, now the concern is the qualifying weekend itself, which is starting to look distinctly more borderline - with long-range forecasts suggesting a build-up of thunderstorms leading to fears that Pole Day and Bump Day could be interrupted or (even worse) rained out.

Why ever not? The way the week's gone so far, we really shouldn't be surprised if it comes to that.



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