Dixon keeps Ganassi cars on top at Indy
Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon supplanted his teammate Dan Wheldon atop the speed charts in the third day of practice for the 91st Indianapolis 500.
Dixon capped a frenetic "Happy Hour" that saw four drivers jump to the top of the charts. Dixon's best lap of 39.7398 seconds, 226.473 mph came minutes before practice ended, putting an end to Wheldon's two-day reign as quickest.
Before him, Ryan Briscoe and Tomas Scheckter took turns on top the speed chart, bumping out Sam Hornish Jr., who had been the quickest most of the day.
When practice ended, Dixon was followed by Andretti Green Racing's Danica Patrick (226.358, right), Wheldon (226.206), Scheckter (226.161) and Briscoe (225.995) in the top five.
Marco Andretti, Hornish, Vitor Meira, Kosuke Matsuura and Helio Castroneves rounded out the top 10. *
FASTEST SPEEDS OF DAY
Pos. Car Name C/E/T Speed
1. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 226.473
2. (7) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 226.358
3. (10) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 226.206
4. (2) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda, 226.161
5. (12) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 225.995
6. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 225.881
7. (6) Sam Hornish Jr., Dallara-Honda, 225.803
8. (4) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 225.441
9. (55) Kosuke Matsuura, Dallara-Honda, 225.350
10. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 225.095
11. (27) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 224.794
12. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 224.525
13. (5) Sarah Fisher, Dallara-Honda, 224.375
14. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 223.930
15. (8) Scott Sharp, Dallara-Honda, 223.895
16. (14) Darren Manning, Dallara-Honda, 223.693
17. (39) Michael Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 222.783
18. (15) Buddy Rice, Dallara-Honda, 222.383
19. (99) Buddy Lazier, Dallara-Honda, 222.059
20. (22) A.J. Foyt IV, Dallara-Honda, 221.867
21. (17) Jeff Simmons, Dallara-Honda, 221.702
22. (25) Marty Roth, Dallara-Honda, 220.340
23. (02) Davey Hamilton, Dallara-Honda, 219.060
24. (23) Milka Duno, Dallara-Honda, 218.908
25. (50) Al Unser Jr., Dallara-Honda, 218.466
26. (77) Stephan Gregoire, Panoz-Honda, 218.270
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fastest of the day): (About flying under the radar): "I think it's good. Dan (Wheldon) loves all that stuff, but I'd rather just fly under the radar and hopefully get the job done. It doesn't always work out that way. Dan's very fast here, and I think he deserves a lot of the media he has been getting. He's done some pretty good races this year. I think we, maybe, have messed up a few times. At Kansas, I think we had a good shot at winning and then we stepped on our own feet and then (Brian) Barnhart stepped on it more. But, yeah, I actually prefer to like it. I don't necessarily go out looking for people to talk to." (About having tow on fast laps): "We only did two sets. We only did two laps on the first one, and I think three on the second. The 226 laps on the first set, and we came in because we were getting some traffic, so we opted to just throw on another set and go out a little bit. So we went out and I think we did a 226.4. There was a car a good little ways off in the distance, probably about six or seven seconds, which, around here, I think it's pretty difficult to not get, at least, some help, but I think when you're in that situation and everyone is running, it's the same situation for everybody. Our car was falling off a little bit. I think the last lap that we were out there, I think was probably a (2)25.99, I think, so we still have a little bit to work on, but I think our car, at the end of the day was laying down those laps pretty respectfully." (About trying to sandbag): "No, I mean, we still have three weeks, so we just have to keep our minds focused on what we're trying to achieve. At the moment, I think we're focusing on a higher downforce and then try to trim it off. Today we were kind of off and didn't know where we were, especially running in the heat of the day. We were quite slow, and I think that took a little bit of a toll on the whole team. Everyone was kind of down and didn't look really happy. I think at the end of the day, when we put a setup on that we were happy with, and kind of trimmed it out a bit, the car came to life and we were able to do it. But hey, it's only Thursday. Dan's still pretty quick, and I don't think we've seen nearly anything from Penske yet. (Ryan) Briscoe seemed to show it a little bit today. We'll just have to see what they come with tomorrow." (About possibly withdrawing a car on Pole Day): "I guess it's going to depend on where you're at in the draw and how the day is playing out. There's going to be so many different scenarios. It's going to depend on whether it's us two fighting over the pole, I can see Chip not really liking that. And, as always, it's going to depend on what kind of mood Chip's in that hour. It's going to be hard to know. Chip is as competitive as both Dan and myself, and we do really want the pole and I think we're going to fight for it as hard as we can. I think we're going to take anything, so I think we'll gamble for it if we're not sitting on pole position. We'll be trying our hardest and using all three attempts to do it."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone, second fastest of the day): "I've kind of always said we're all out there at the end of the day trying to get our fastest laps. It's cooling off, it's faster, you get a tow here and there. That's kind of what I did. I'm not that much different than anyone else. Everyone else goes out there, and it's not like I'm looking for a tow, but you get one. You need to be able to do it, at least. If you can at least do the time, you know it's in the car. I'm not going to say we're doing 226's out there on our own, but at least the car will pull that time. I still believe we have work to do, for sure. The car is not 100 percent comfortable, and I don't think that it's the fastest car by any means yet, but I think we're hopefully in the top-five cars. From there, really anything can happen, but we do have some work to do." (About plans for Friday to prepare for Pole Day): "The only thing anybody works on I would imagine on a Friday before Pole Day is going fast. I'm sure you're going to see a lot of sticker tires. You're probably going to see times drop and speeds go up throughout the day just because you're going to see rubber going down on the track. It's supposed to be a little cooler, which is better for horsepower and should be more downforce, so people will be trimming out some more. You're going to see guns loaded on a Friday before Pole Day. We'll be no different."
DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, third fastest of the day): (About the changes at the top of the speed chart end of day): "The end of the day was exciting. Everyone was trying to lay down a lap. We definitely feel strong with our program. We're just working on the car and getting a little closer to qualifying trim because Pole Day is coming up. I think for the most part we are in good shape. Everybody has been working very hard, and we just keep trying to improve the car gradually." (About the importance of Fast Friday): "It's always important to fine-tune your car and get it good for qualifying. Fast Friday is a chance for you to try what you're going to have come qualifying. But it's not an end all, be all. You don't get any points; you do get a little bit of money tomorrow. Pole Day is important, but again, the big picture is the race."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 2 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fourth fastest of the day): "It was a good run. It's a little bit of help. I think these cars draft really, really good so it kind of disguised a little bit what we're capable of, but we're not bad. If we can stick somewhere in the top 11, I'll be happy with that. I've said that all month. The car is working well and obviously working well in the tow, as well."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 12 Symantec Luczo Dragon Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fifth fastest of the day): "It's been a real good day for the Luczo Dragon team. We focused most of the time on race setup. We did some changes in-between runs and improved the tire life, and improved on the consistency within the run. That was really positive. To finish out the day, we trimmed out a bit to see what kind of speed we had, and the speeds were very promising, and all the while with a very comfortable car. So I guess things are looking pretty good for us."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 NYSE Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone, sixth fastest of the day): "Very few people at the top today were true to themselves. I was one of them. There were a bunch of tows out there, and I just couldn't be true to myself at the end. There were a couple of guys out there that ran by themselves and looked good. Two of them were my teammates with Tony (Kanaan) and Dario (Franchitti), so that is good for the team. We will just take from them for the NYSE car and finish preparing tomorrow for qualifying Saturday."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, seventh fastest of the day): "I think we ran some pretty good lap times today. We definitely think there's more left in the Team Penske car, so I'm looking forward to getting a bit more track time tomorrow. We're fairly comfortable right now, and I think after practice tomorrow, we will be in good shape for qualifying."
KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic Dallara/Honda/Firestone, ninth fastest of the day): "Today's the third day of practice, and things are improving every day. We had little problem with the setup, but we were able to solve it and found a good setup. I am happy with the car, and the team has been great. We only got one more day of practice (before qualifying) so my engineer and I will have a meeting tonight, and hopefully we will improve our time. I am looking forward to finishing up the car for the qualifying tomorrow."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, 10th fastest of the day): "We were still working on our race setup for a majority of the day, but we showed a little bit more speed with our quick lap right before we ended our practice. I think there were a lot of people playing that game today, but we stopped before everyone started posting the day's fastest times. Tomorrow is our last day to work on our qualifying setup, but I feel like we're in a great position to be in contention for the pole." (About his 32nd birthday): "I had a great surprise today for my birthday. My family and fiancée were planning on coming to the track tomorrow, but they decided to come early for my birthday. I was fearing a prank or something along those lines, but this was obviously much better, and I couldn't be happier."