Wheldon leads fast opening practice …

Posted: May 9, 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 9, 2007
Speedway, Indiana

Indianapolis Motor Speedway practice speeds ratcheted up considerably today as 27 cars, piloted by 24 different drivers got off to a fast start in preparation for this Saturday’s running for the Indianapolis 500 Pole. A total of 1248 laps were run from the 12 noon green flag right up until 6pm, as teams focused on their individual car’s setups.

Dan Wheldon, in the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Dallara/Honda, set the bar higher than anticipated by many on this, the first day of full team practice by running 225.074 mph late in the day. When asked during a press conference at the end of practice, what he predicted for the speed needed to gain the pole this Saturday, Wheldon replied “232” miles per hours. This was stunning admission considering the last time an Indianapolis 500 Pole winner was above 232 miles per hour was Scotty Brayton’s 233.718 mph run in 1996.

Right behind Wheldon was Penske Racing’s Helio Castroneves, who snapped off a lap at 224.996 mph. Vision Racing’s Tomas Scheckter climbed into the third spot on the speed chart with a late day run of 224.783 mph, though his speed was widely considered to be the result of drafting Tony Kanaan.

While Rookie orientation and Veteran refresher speeds topped out at just over 221 miles per hour yesterday, 19 drivers crossed that threshold today. Tony Kanaan ran speeds of 224.622, 223.474, and 222.562 while testing three different Andretti-Green cars. The #11 (his own car), the #26 (Marco Andretti’s car) and the #7 (Danica Patrick’s car) were all checked for setup by Kanaan. Andretti-Green racing made it a point to use differing setups on Michael Andretti’s #39 car (222.646 mph) and Dario Franchitti’s #27 car (223.591 mph), than the other three team cars in an effort to maximize its engineering efficiency.

On a relatively flawless day … the only mishap occurred when Jon Herb in his #19T Racing Professionals Dallara/Honda, going 212 mph, got loose, went into a spin and hit the wall coming of turn two. He climbed from the car and was released after a brief stay at in the infield hospital. His best speed prior to the accident was 218.384 mph.

The day’s top speeds ….

Driver / Team MPH

Dan Wheldon – Target Chip Ganassi #10 — 225.074
Helio Castroneves – Team Penske #3 — 224.996
Tomas Scheckter – Vision Racing # — 224.783
Tony Kanaan – Andretti-Green #11 — 224.622
Scott Dixon — Target Chip Ganassi #9 — 224.564
Danica Patrick — Andretti-Green #7 — 224.457
Ryan Briscoe — Luczo-Dragon Racing #12 — 223.676
Sam Hornish Jr. – Team Penske #6 — 223.670
Dario Franchitti — Andretti-Green #27 — 223.591
Tony Kanaan — Andretti-Green #26 — 223.474
Marco Andretti — Andretti-Green #26 — 223.239

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