Wheldon fastest, then crashes
2005 IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon paced the first Open Test held under the lights as IndyCar Series teams completed the first of a two-day test on the oval at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Wheldon, who won the last two IndyCar Series races at the variably banked 1.5-mile oval, recorded a lap of 24.8816 seconds, 214.858 mph in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda-powered Dallara.
Wheldon, though, was involved in a single-car accident with about an hour left in session when his car made contact with the SAFER Barrier between Turns 1 and 2. He was not injured in the crash, but the damage was enough to end his testing for the day.
"I just got a little loose," Wheldon said. "It's unfortunate because the car was really quick. Both Target Chip Ganassi Racing cars were fast. We'll just have to put another one together and go back out there tomorrow."
Wheldon's lap was slightly faster than Marco Andretti in the No. 26 NYSE Group Honda-powered Dallara, who recorded a best lap of 25.0020, 213.823 mph. Scott Dixon (213.693 mph) Helio Castroneves (213.543 mph) and Dario Franchitti (213.504 mph) rounded out the day's fast five.
"I think we might have found it. I don't want to speak too soon but team's work in the off-season, so far it's paid off. It's only one day of testing. I hope we don't come back for the race, and it's a totally different beast, which is known to happen. But so far, so good.
"Today was the most important day here. We're going to know where we stand for the year on the big ovals. We always know Andretti Green is going to be up front on the short ovals and road courses. Now, hopefully it's across the board. That's definitely good for the championship. We're just going to work at it and be consistent."
DAY 1 TESTING QUOTEBOOK:
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/ Firestone, third-fastest): "Being back at Homestead really give you the sense that the season is upon us. I think racing here on a Saturday night is going to be really fantastic. It'll be great for the fans especially. It's good fun. The test so far has been all good for the No. 9 Target Honda. We're still looking to improve and gain some more speed but so far it's been a good test for us. The car is strong and really comfortable. It's kind of cool testing at night. I can't remember the last time we did that. I spent a good four hours in the car in tonight, and we'll put in plenty more laps on Thursday."
HELIO CASTONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fourth-fastest): "The first oval test of the year is generally difficult for everyone to get going again because it's been several months since we've been in the car at these speeds. You have to be careful not to do too much too soon until you get your rhythm back. I think it's great that we're testing here at night because this is exactly how the race will be. Plus, Miami is a town built on nightlife, so the change should add some additional excitement for the fans. Overall, we're pretty happy with where we are, but there's still work to be done tomorrow."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fifth-fastest): "It was a pretty good first day on the oval with the Canadian Club car. The guys worked hard over the winter, and we seem to be making progress, so I'm pretty happy."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, sixth-fastest): "Everything is going pretty much to plan. We aren't as quick as we'd like to be, but we're working through everything smoothly. It's been five months since I've driven the Team Penske car on an oval, so it was good to get out there. We're going to come back tomorrow and work hard and hopefully we'll be a little quicker than we were today."
Pos Driver Diff Best Time Best Speed
1 Dan Wheldon (10) ... 24.8816 214.858
2 Marco Andretti (26) 0.1204 25.0020 213.823
3 Scott Dixon (9) 0.1356 25.0172 213.693
4 Helio Castroneves (3) 0.1532 25.0348 213.543
5 Dario Franchitti (27) 0.1577 25.0393 213.504
6 Sam Hornish Jr (6) 0.2327 25.1143 212.867
7 Tony Kanaan (11) 0.2960 25.1776 212.332
8 Vitor Meira (4) 0.3018 25.1834 212.283
9 Buddy Rice (15) 0.3158 25.1974 212.165
10 Danica Patrick (7) 0.3398 25.2214 211.963
11 Ed Carpenter (20) 0.3511 25.2327 211.868
12 Kosuke Matsuura (55) 0.3715 25.2531 211.697
13 Tomas Scheckter (2) 0.4312 25.3128 211.197
14 Jeff Simmons (17) 0.4611 25.3427 210.948
15 Sarah Fisher (5) 0.4702 25.3518 210.873
16 Scott Sharp (8) 0.4800 25.3616 210.791
17 A J Foyt IV (22) 0.6002 25.4818 209.797
18 Marty Roth (25) 0.8681 25.7497 207.614
19 Darren Manning (14) 0.8751 25.7567 207.558