Cunningham leads rain shortened practice at Indy Defending Freedom 100 winner Wade Cunningham led a rain-shortened day as Indy Pro Series teams conducted an Open Test at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Cunningham, the 2005 Indy Pro Series champion, turned a lap of 47.2408 seconds, 190.513 mph in the No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc. entry. Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Chris Festa was second fastest at 189.213 mph. Super Aguri Panther Racing's Hideki Mutoh (188.981), series points leader Alex Lloyd (188.356) and Mike Potekhen rounded out the top five.
Teams were limited to approximately two-and-a half hours of track time due to wet, misty conditions at the 2.5-mile oval before a brief shower forced an early end to testing. Drivers and teams will return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval from 10-2 p.m. (ET) Saturday, April 28 for more testing.
Brian Stewart Racing drivers Bobby Wilson and Shane Jantzi were involved in separate incidents during the session. Wilson's No. 1 Ocala Gran Prix entry spun and made hard contact with the SAFER Barrier moments shortly before 1:15 p.m. He was treated and released from Methodist Hospital after precautionary X-rays to his left knee.
Moments after the track returned to green flag conditions, Jantzi's No. 33 Brian Stewart Racing car spun off Turn 2 but did not make contact. He was not injured.
Watchful eyes: 2006 Indy Pro Series champion Jay Howard and series veteran Jonathan Klein visited the paddock during the test. Howard, who drove the first three races of the season with the SpeedWorks team, had no plans to participate in the test and is seeking a ride for the Indianapolis 500 and other IndyCar Series events.
Klein, who battled Howard and Wade Cunningham for the 2006 series title, was scheduled to test the No. 2 Team Moore Racing entry late in the day, but the limited track time scuttled those plans. Both drivers hope to participate in the Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program if deals can be worked out next week.
Justice returns: Ryan Justice was back behind the wheel for the first time since he was injured in an accident during the Miami 100 on March 24. Justice recorded the seventh-fastest time in the limited session.
"Today, being my first day in the car, I was really happy," he said. "I'm happy that my first day back in the car was on a superspeedway. Given how the wreck took place on a big track, it was good to start where we left off. This place is such a historical place; I would have hated to miss this race."
Delayed: The start of the session began shortly after noon, three hours after the scheduled start, because of wet conditions due to overnight rains at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Not my clothes: After signing a late deal to test with Playa Del Racing, Al Unser III didn't have his firesuit ready. The solution was a firesuit used last season by Roger Yasukawa in the Indianapolis 500.
"It seems to fit me OK," said Unser, son of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr.
WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, fastest in testing): "It was tough to go out today, especially for the rookies, I'd say. Conditions were terrible. You have minimum temperatures, looming moisture and on top of that you have a daunting 2.5-mile racetrack. Even for drivers like myself, it was a case of taking our time and getting up to speed. I can't say we've done much. What we've done is pretty much how we rolled off the trailer. We're not far down the test program, but I'm happy with the car."
CHRIS FESTA (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, second fastest): "Today was not the day we wanted. We've been sitting here all day and playing the waiting game. We did get a couple of hours of running in, so we got into our test plan. From that aspect, it's OK. Our car is pretty good. We're not there yet, but we're getting better."
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 55 Super Aguri Panther Racing, third fastest): "It was my first time to run at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway so I concentrated on getting used to the track today. After running 28 laps, I started to get used to the track, but it started to rain harder so we had to end the testing. It seems like the weather will be good tomorrow so I am looking forward to try different setups for the race."
ALEX LLOYD (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, fourth fastest): "It wasn't too bad a day for me. I think it would have been worse had I been one of the 15 rookies coming here. We did a small amount of laps, but we were up to pace very quickly. I didn't take long to get used to the track again. I'm sure we'll get a few more laps in tomorrow, but for now everything is going good. It's frustrating that the weather is not going to plan, but it's the same for everybody."
JAIME CAMARA (No. 11 osoFresh, eighth fastest, 2005 Freedom 100 winner): "I did only eight timed laps, and that was it for me. I know we have a good car. The car is fast. We're going to work hard and come back with the cars the way we want them for the race."
BOBBY WILSON (No. 1 Ocala Gran Prix): "It was windy and cold, and the car was pretty free. We were trying something, and it just snapped. I had a pretty massive draft out there and went into Turn 1 faster than I had all day. It just snapped up. It was a trying day with the rain and the damp track and the conditions. I think that has something to do with why I'm here."
AL UNSER (No. 12 Playa Del Racing): "Indianapolis is a special place. The last time I raced here, in '05, I didn't really find the line until I started racing. It is unique. A normal oval, you have kind of a 180 (degree) type of turn through (Turns) 1 and 2, it flows real well. Here, you have four distinct 90-degree corners, and one is definitely different than all of the rest of them. They're all different, and I'd say Turn 1 is the hardest there is. This test is very important for me. (It is) to get back up to speed, but we want to find out what changes we hope to make, and make since it is only a two-day event (in May). It's special, it's been good to me and my family, and I hope to do well again."
Pos Driver Diff Best Time Best Speed
1 Wade Cunningham (27) ... 47.2408 190.513
2 Chris Festa (9) 0.3246 47.5654 189.213
3 Hideki Mutoh (55) 0.3830 47.6238 188.981
4 Alex Lloyd (7) 0.5410 47.7818 188.356
5 Mike Potekhen (53) 0.5912 47.8320 188.159
6 Matt Jaskol (8) 0.5928 47.8336 188.152
7 Ryan Justice (38) 0.8306 48.0714 187.222
8 Jaime Camara (11) 0.9072 48.1480 186.924
9 Robbie Pecorari (13) 0.9896 48.2304 186.604
10 Shane Jantzi (33) 1.0102 48.2510 186.525
11 Tom Wood (2) 1.0321 48.2729 186.440
12 Stephen Simpson (24) 1.0515 48.2923 186.365
13 Bobby Wilson (1) 1.0643 48.3051 186.316
14 Andrew Prendeville (5) 1.1089 48.3497 186.144
15 Sean Guthrie (4) 1.2091 48.4499 185.759
16 Ken Losch (52) 1.3953 48.6361 185.048
17 Al Unser III (12) 1.7327 48.9735 183.773
18 Joey Scarallo (15) 1.7999 49.0407 183.521
19 Jon Brownson (34) 2.0729 49.3137 182.505
20 Brad Jaeger (3) 2.1542 49.3950 182.205
21 Logan Gomez (23) 2.5539 49.7947 180.742
22 Tom Wieringa (40) 2.9098 50.1506 179.459
23 Max Schmidt (6) 6.4832 53.7240 167.523
24 CR Crews (6) 0.0000 -0.0001 0.000
25 Jonathan Klein (2) 0.0000 -0.0001 0.000