Andretti has top lap; full practice looms

Posted: May 8, 2007 in Uncategorized

By: Wm. LaDow

Daily Trackside Reports from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Published in the Post-Tribune/ Chicago Sun-Times News Group — May 8, 2007
Speedway, Indiana

Another bright, sunny sky graced the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this day, as race teams began to put their game faces on in preparation for running for the Pole, this coming Saturday, May 12th. The Month of May has gotten off to a fast start as near perfect weather allowed seven cars to get out onto the track here at the “Racing Capital of World” for an afternoon of testing, data assessment and adjustment. Another 300 laps were run, bringing the total to 491 for the month. Rookie Milka Duno has quietly gone about her business and completed 153 laps to date, the most of any competitor.

Once again, Michael Andretti pushed his #39 Motorola/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda to the top of the speed charts for the day at 221.579 miles per hours finishing the afternoon with 43 laps run. Andretti later said he was “really happy” with the way practice went and was pleased to have had the extra day of preparation for his one-on race here at Indianapolis. Andretti also confessed to media members that he had waited a few months following his third place finish in last years 500, before committing to return for the 2007 race. In watching Andretti around pit lane and on the track, it is obvious that Michael’s focus is crystal clear. Interestingly enough, the other Andretti/Green teams didn’t complete their arrival at the Speedway until early this afternoon. Haulers for Danica Patrick, Marco Andretti and Dario Franchitti were seen unloading at mid-day, unlike Chip Ganassi’s two car team who appeared to be completely settled into their Gasoline Alley garages early yesterday morning.

Second fastest of the day was once again 25 year-old Australian Ryan Briscoe at 221.427 mph. Briscoe, who finished tenth in the 2005 Indianapolis 500, has been driving in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) competing as a Porsche ‘works’ driver with Penske Motorsports RS Spyders Team. His Indianapolis entry, called Luczo-Dragon Racing is jointly owned by Steve Luczo and Jay Penske, son of Roger Penske. The #12 Symantec Dallara Honda that Briscoe is piloting, along with the support equipment, has been leased from Penske Racing. Penske Motorsports involvement was evident today when viewing action in the pits with Penske uniformed engineers working side-by-side the yellow-shirted Symantec Luczo-Dragon Racing engineers.

Third quickest of the day, was once again Davey Hamilton who continued to push his #02 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda, breaking the 220 mile per hour mark coming in at 220.214 mph. Hamilton stating that “Overall, it was a great day.” says he looks forward to starting to “trim the car out” now that they he’s comfortable in the seat. Tomorrow, they like everyone else will be searching for more speed.

Fourth quickest Rookie Phil Giebler, confidently completed the Rookie Orientation Program and put on a total of 52 laps topping out at 217.091 mph in the #21 Playa Del Racing Panoz Honda. Behind Giebler was John Herb in the Racing Professionals #19 Dallara Honda at 216.763 mph. That speed was just a shade above Milka Duno in the #23 SAMAX Motorsports Dallara/Honda. Duno for the second day in a row spent the most time on the track today, totaling 74 laps and registering her highest speed yet at 215.949 mph.

Jaques Lazier in the #21 Playa Del Racing entry closed out the speed charts at 215.235 mph, over a mile an hour slower than his best speed yesterday.

Gasoline Alley Notes …

It is often said that a look into one’s eyes can reveal the inner person and the mindset that person is in. Walking in Gasoline Alley today and visiting just about every race team’s garage … I saw plenty. Just to make sure I wasn’t drawing my conclusions too quickly, I then spent a considerable amount of time walking the pit lane as teams worked their cars both on and off the track.

Race teams here at Indy, are in full business mode. They are polite, they are cordial, the interviews are without incident, but if you watch long enough and close enough, you can see the fire in their eyes. Drivers, mechanics, engineers, tire and engine support workers. They are all focused on one simple goal. To go the fastest. Going the fastest means capturing the Pole on Saturday. Going the fastest means winning the 91st running of the Indianapolis 500 and winning Indy means racing immortality.

This is Indianapolis … This is where a racer’s greatest dream can come true.

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