Dixon cracks 227 MPH at Indy
Fast Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway lived up to its name as 28 cars turned 1,263 laps on the famed 2.5-mile oval on the final day of practice before the run for the AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award and its $100,000 prize on Saturday.
At the end of the day, however, there were few surprises as Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon (right) and Dan Wheldon, second and first respectively in the IndyCar Series point standings, topped the speed chart in preparations for the 91st running of the Indianapolis 500.
Dixon, who also led practice Thursday, recorded a quick lap of 39.6184 seconds, 227.167 mph in his No. 9 Honda-powered Dallara. Dixon will go out second during Saturday's qualifying.
Wheldon, who led the first two days of practice, turned in a best lap of 226.650 mph.
Andretti Green Racing regulars Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti, Dario Franchitti and Danica Patrick occupied three of the next four positions, respectively, with Team Penske's Sam Hornish Jr., the reigning race winner, sneaking into the sixth position. Ed Carpenter, Helio Castroneves and Tomas Scheckter rounded out the top 10.
The top 10 100% throttle cars were separated by 0.5217 of a second.
FASTEST SPEEDS OF DAY
Pos. Car Name C/E/T Speed
1. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 227.167
2. (10) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 226.650
3. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 226.236
4. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 226.230
5. (27) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 226.189
6. (6) Sam Hornish Jr., Dallara-Honda, 225.587
7. (7) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 225.295
8. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 225.015
9. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 224.726
10. (2) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda, 224.215
11. (14) Darren Manning, Dallara-Honda, 224.054
12. (12) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 224.036
13. (15) Buddy Rice, Dallara-Honda, 224.025
14. (39) Michael Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 223.998
15. (4) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 223.934
16. (5) Sarah Fisher, Dallara-Honda, 223.706
17. (8) Scott Sharp, Dallara-Honda, 223.623
18. (22) A.J. Foyt IV, Dallara-Honda, 223.561
19. (55) Kosuke Matsuura, Dallara-Honda, 222.959
20. (17) Jeff Simmons, Dallara-Honda, 222.756
21. (02) Davey Hamilton, Dallara-Honda, 222.190
22. (99) Buddy Lazier, Dallara-Honda, 221.541
23. (50) Al Unser Jr., Dallara-Honda, 221.457
24. (25) Marty Roth, Dallara-Honda, 220.164
25. (21) Jaques Lazier, Panoz-Honda, 219.312
26. (23) Milka Duno, Dallara-Honda, 218.640
27. (19) Jon Herb, Dallara-Honda, 217.758
28. (77) Stephan Gregoire, Panoz-Honda, 215.749
BRIAN BARNHART (President, Competition and Operations, Indy Racing League): "I think it's been disappointing the last couple of years we haven't had a chance to (use the qualifying format). We've had such a solid week of practice. When you look at about 22 cars between 222 and 227 (mph) - 5 miles per hour separating 22 cars. Technically, you've got 28 cars going for 11 spots, but you've got 22 of them within 5 miles per hour, I think it's going to make for a very exciting day, very dramatic and should be very entertaining for the fans."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fastest of the day): "I think this morning as everyone could see lots of people were running early on the track when it was cooler. There was pretty good grip because it hasn't rained that much. On our first run we had a bit of understeer and for our second one, we took some wing out, and it just went quicker. We got a bit of a tow off of Sam (Hornish) Jr. and got a 227. (About qualifying): "Clean laps, healthy cars on the track, time of day (will affect things). I think both of our cars are very quick at the moment. (Tony Kanaan) looks very strong. I think just running the speeds he did out there looked pretty clean. Last year, the groups were quite split, and you didn't have people to work with. I think it is easy to start a lap but then fight traffic quietly on a run and you normally get to see what passes over the length of four laps. We were even talking about it in the meeting early this morning about not running those decisions. I think we will have to do at least one base line but not get too caught up to them."
DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, second fastest of the day): (About today's practice): "There were a few little problems that we couldn't quite get out, but the car is very fast. It's about getting the most out of it tomorrow. I think if we can do that, we'll have a good shot at the pole. At the end of the day, you really can't get too excited. You have to focus on the race. Last year, I saw the real disappointing side of Indianapolis and in 2005 I saw the great side. I can't let anything distract me and understand that the big picture is to win the race. It would be great to be on the front row. It would be great to get the pole because Indianapolis is a special race to me and that's something I haven't achieved yet. We'll just have to wait and see." (On tomorrow's qualifying format): "It's no different to us. If we were thinking about not being in the top 11, Chip (Ganassi) would kick my butt from here to Milwaukee, and that's the next race. I've been very fortunate at Indianapolis to always be in cars that can contend for the pole and contend for the race wins. It's about maximizing those opportunities. I haven't quite maximized the opportunity to get the pole. That's something I feel I have a genuine shot of so we'll try and do that. But like I've said, it won't distract us from our main effort on the race."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, third fastest of the day): "It was a much better day for Team 7-Eleven as we worked toward our qualifying car. We had a reasonable speed alone. We've been good all week, and I think we're there. We're competitive, for sure. Tomorrow (Pole Day) is the most stressful day of the month other than the race. The new qualifying format looks exciting and dramatic so I think the fans will have a blast. I do well under pressure. I like the pressure, the atmosphere and hopefully we'll have a good day."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 NYSE Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fourth fastest of the day): "It's been an up-and-down week for us for sure. The NYSE car got better today after we made a few changes. We've been among the quickest cars all week so I'm hopeful we'll be right where we need to be tomorrow."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fifth fastest of the day): "Today was a busy day. We were mostly prepping for Pole Day tomorrow. We really made some good progress on the Canadian Club car. It looks very close for qualifying tomorrow between the top seven or eight. I think it is going to be important to get the weather conditions in your favor to have everything right, and right now, I'm excited about it."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, sixth fastest of the day): "We worked a lot on the car today and tried to get some laps out there by ourselves. We're pretty happy with where the Team Penske car is going into Pole Day. Tomorrow morning we'll fine tune the car and then go out for qualifications and hopefully put it on the first or second row."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone, seventh fastest of the day): "We haven't been ultra fast. We've been fast, but we haven't been the fastest car. I think the Target (Chip Ganassi Racing) cars are really fast. It's been a little bit hit and miss for us. Every now and again we go out and have a run that's not that great, so I'm hoping that doesn't happen for qualifying. But I think if we get everything right we'll be maybe in the first row probably the first two rows if we get it all right."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, 10th fastest of the day): "We ran consistently strong again today, which is what we were looking for. Unfortunately, a yellow came out just after we put on fresh tires for our final run, so we weren't able to be as high on the speed chart as we might have liked, but tomorrow is what counts. We'll have time in the morning to make our final adjustments before qualifying, and I'm optimistic about our chances."
DARREN MANNING (No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We're good. We're starting to make progress with the car like we have done all year. We're working out what we need from the car and with the input from A.J., (Engineer) Len (Paskus), myself and now Little Al (Unser) and (his engineer) Tim Wardrop, we've been making the car feel better and we've gone faster. The new car is freeing up pretty good, and we still have some trimming out to do."
BUDDY RICE (No. 15 A1TeamUSA/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, 13th fastest of the day): "Today went pretty well. We'd like to be a little closer to the top of the charts. But we have a good shot for the top-11 on Saturday. We had some issues out of our control on Thursday and we had to stop early. Then we had another issue early today that wasn't our doing. So we lost some valuable track time the last two days. It was a little slick on the track later in the day and we learned some more about our car. We haven't been able to test very much this year so we are using this time to catch up. It has been rather unique that the weather has been so good for us. Only the one day with rain. So many years lately we have had to sit around and watch the rain. But this week has been great. It is scheduled to be a little cooler on the weekend and that will help our cars run faster. You don't always see Indy as nice as it has been so far. This time of the year it can be unpredictable here."
SARAH FISHER (No. 5 AAMCO Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, 16th fastest of the day): "We did well today. We have to keep focused on the fact that we have a really great race car and our race package is good. Right now we are trying to find some more speed, and we'll keep digging at it."
BUDDY LAZIER (No. 99 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Honda/Firestone, 22nd-fastest of the day): "It was a frustrating day. We're still learning right now. If this were Legos right now, we're just trying every piece in every position. Soon though, we're going to have to start putting the right pieces together. That's the nature of starting from scratch. In a sense, it's both a positive and negative. We're definitely learning a lot right now, but there's still a lot to be learned." (About qualifying): "I'd like to qualify somewhere between 224 and 225, it just depends on how things go. We'll see how our times go, but right now, we're getting tight on the amount of time available."
AL UNSER JR. (No. 50 A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, 23rd fastest of the day): "The team is really coming together. It's great to be out on Fast Friday and working to find more speed. (About making a qualifying run tomorrow): "A.J. and I really haven't had a chance to talk about when we'll make a run. We'll see what tomorrow brings."