Notes: Rookies get used to the Speedway in “ROP”

Six Indy 500 first-timers passed all three speed phases of the Rookie Orientation Program today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

England’s James Jakes, who failed to qualify for the ‘500’ last season, led the charts with a tow-assisted lap of 218.268 mph achieved after he had passed through ROP. Also running through all three phases were Bryan Clauson (best lap: 217.046), Josef Newgarden (216.573), Rubens Barrichello (214.083), Simon Pagenaud (214.055), and Michel Jourdain (213.633).

Wade Cunningham, A.J. Foyt Racing’s second driver this month, passed the first two phases and can complete the ROP at any time the track is open to all cars. He put up a quick time of 210.318 mph.

That leaves Jean Alesi as the lone rookie to not yet pass ROP. The 47-year-old competitor, who is racing for the Lotus-powered Fan Force United, did not complete the first phase of the Program and will have to pass the first two in rookie-only sessions slated for Saturday and Sunday at the track.

Alesi’s fastest lap was clocked at 186.387 mph. He only logged 18 laps on the day.

Andretti Sports Marketing will organize a second race on the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series calendar.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Michael Andretti’s company — along with two Baltimore-area businessmen — have stepped up to take over the snakebit Baltimore Grand Prix with less than four months to go before the race goes off on Labor Day weekend. As a result, the city’s contract with Downforce Racing, which took over the race in February, has been severed per the Sun’s piece by Julie Scharper.

Joining ASM on the new promotions group for Baltimore will be J.P. Grant and Greg O’Neill, who have formed Race On, LLC.

Last year’s inaugural running of the Baltimore Grand Prix was a smash hit amongst drivers and at the box office, but original promoter Baltimore Racing Development incurred massive debts in the process and subsequently collapsed. That led to the rise of Downforce Racing to take over in Charm City, but the group was unable to meet several benchmarks and deadlines set by the city or officially begin ticket sales.

Now it’s up to ASM and Race On to try and keep the race on track. ASM stepped up to keep the Milwaukee Mile on the INDYCAR calendar this season, dubbing their effort the “Milwaukee IndyFest.” That event is slated for June 15 and 16.