Danica tops Wednesday practice
Danica Patrick paced the opening day of the second week of practice for the 91st Running of the Indianapolis 500.
Patrick, who will start eighth in the race, lapped the famed 2.5-mile oval in 40.6891 seconds, 221.189 mph as most of the 22 qualified drivers worked on race setups. Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon was second fastest with a lap of 220.556 mph while Team Penske's Sam Hornish Jr. was third.
Patrick's Andretti Green Racing teammates Marco Andretti and Dario Franchitti rounded out the top five.
Among the drivers who will compete for the final 11 starting positions on May 19-20, Playa Del Racing's Jaques Lazier was fastest with a lap of 217.159.
Three drivers began practicing for the first time this month. Jimmy Kite, a five-time starter in the Indianapolis 500, had a fast lap of 204.193 mph but was involved in the only incident of the day when his No. 18 PDM entry made contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2 on his 19th lap. Kite was checked and released at the Clarian Emergency Medical Center.
PJ Jones, a two-time starter and son of 1963 winner Parnelli Jones, and Roger Yasukawa, a four-time starter, also turned their first laps of the month. Rookie Phil Giebler returned to the track for the first time since completing Rookie Orientation on May 8.
1. (7) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 221.189
2. (9T) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 220.556
3. (6T) Sam Hornish Jr., Dallara-Honda, 220.484
4. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 220.399
5. (27) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 220.131
6. (12T) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 219.972
7. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 219.845
8. (10T) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 219.656
9. (3T) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 219.648
10. (2) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda, 219.589
11. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 219.120
12. (17T) Jeff Simmons, Dallara-Honda, 218.360
13. (39) Michael Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 218.263
14. (22) A.J. Foyt IV, Dallara-Honda, 217.215
15. (21) Jaques Lazier, Panoz-Honda, 217.159
16. (02) Davey Hamilton, Dallara-Honda, 216.543
17. (24) Roger Yasukawa, Dallara-Honda, 216.503
18. (19) Jon Herb, Dallara-Honda, 215.889
19. (55) Kosuke Matsuura, Dallara-Honda, 215.739
20. (33) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 215.476
21. (5) Sarah Fisher, Dallara-Honda, 215.252
22. (99) Buddy Lazier, Dallara-Honda, 214.870
23. (8T) Scott Sharp, Dallara-Honda, 213.732
24. (18) Jimmy Kite, Panoz-Honda, 204.193
25. (40) P.J. Jones, Dallara-Honda, 197.503
26. (23) Milka Duno, Dallara-Honda, 169.036
FASTEST NON-QUALIFIED DRIVERS:
Pos. Car Name C/E/T Speed
1 21 Jaques Lazier P/H/F 217.159 mph
2 24 Roger Yasukawa D/H/F 216.503 mph
3 19 Jon Herb D/H/F 215.889 mph
4 18 Jimmy Kite D/H/F 204.193 mph
5 40 PJ Jones D/H/F 197.503 mph
6 23 Milka Duno D/H/F 169.036 mph
POST PRACTICE QUOTES:
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, third fastest of the day): "Usually with the wind and cold weather, the car is a bit harder to drive, but today's conditions could certainly be like Race Day, so we made sure we went out and made the most of it. We worked on the race setup of the car, and we were able to stay out of trouble. All in all, we had a good day, and the Team Penske car was handling well out there. We're looking forward to another day of practice tomorrow, so we can keep making progress leading up to Race Day."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 NYSE Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fourth fastest of the day): "I wanted to get a feel for the NYSE car in race trim today, obviously. I know the conditions weren't ideal, but I knew if we could get the car working in these conditions, it will only be better for when the track is ideal. We're not bad, but we need to get a little bit better in traffic. We've got plenty of time."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fastest of the day): "I would say coming away from this day, I'm the happiest that I've been so far this month. The most predictable car, very consistent. It felt like a race car. It felt like it was good in and out of traffic. So I'm the happiest coming away from today than any other day." (About the weather today that was cooler than probably expected on Race Day): "I think that was why you didn't see everybody running, running, running. At least that's why some of our guys didn't run. Just wanting to make sure that we're simulating the closest thing that we can to race conditions. We don't know what the weather is going to be like, but the likelihood of it being cold are good, I think. The weather the last week has been wonderful. It's definitely different than what I'm used to here. I know how the Midwest works. Sometimes it's cold for a week and then it gets warm for a week, and you just don't know what it's going to do. Everything in the weather is kind of saying it's going to be a little bit up and down over the next week or so, but we're too far out from the race to know. I really feel like the car was very predictable and very comfortable, and if this does not carry over to a day that's warmer or more than anything just windy - if it's not windy out - I don't think it will change my attitude toward the car and the improvements that we've made. Always when the track picks up grip, it warms up, the cars are stuck depending on the temperature of the air and the downforce it's creating, that can change, for sure, how much downforce you want to run, but the actual balance of the car should stay pretty consistent. Any time you feel good about the car, it's good whether it carries over; it's confidence, anyway." (About running race trim): "My fastest lap, I didn't see it, actually, but it was my second lap out in my last run we filled up. I was in race trim. We're running more downforce and have got the car tied down much better. That was trying to simulate race condition and what we need out of the car to be able to run in and out of traffic." (About using Dario Franchitti's setup work from Sunday): "The work that Dario did paid off a lot. We kind of went a different direction to start the afternoon today, and it was not right. We came back to garage after eight laps and me doing a 210 and a bunch of 205s going, 'OK, we need to pull this back into the garage, see where we're at, check if something's wrong.' And then when we saw that nothing was really wrong, we just said, 'All right, this setup is obviously not working.' So we kind of went to what Dario had run on Sunday, which was a great place to start from. And I'd like to think that we made some good improvements from there."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fifth fastest of the day): "It was a tough day due to the high winds and the cold conditions in the early afternoon. We did some things with our development program. Hopefully we'll continue to make good progress with the Canadian Club car tomorrow."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, eighth-fastest of the day): "So far this month, almost every day has been warm and sunny, but today was cloudy and much cooler, which gave us some new challenges with the car setup. At first we struggled a bit, but we ended the day strong, and everyone at Team Penske is happy with the direction that we're heading. However, we still have some work to do in order to get to where we want to be on Race Day. We're still looking for a little more speed, but I think we'll get there."
JAQUES LAZIER (No. 21 Indiana Ice/Venture Logistics Panoz/Honda/Firestone, fastest non-qualified driver of the day): "We've been playing catch-up since (last) Tuesday on. We went out Friday, got about 20 laps at speed, another probably 20 on Saturday, tried to put it in the show Sunday, we came up a little bit short. It was definitely not from a lack of effort. I think today showed what we have, we have a really good race car. We can pretty consistently run (2)16s, (2)17s. We learned more information that's helping our car rotate through the corner. It was a very successful day for us today." (What do you consider your target speed for qualifying, and how difficult is it to get a clean lap on a day like today, when so many qualifiers are out there running in packs?): "We did not try any qualifying stuff today. Today was a race setup, trying to get more mechanical grip, to get the car to work mechanically better. We had downforce on, were in race trim. We knew after Sunday night, when we missed it by about half a mile an hour. If we had another half an hour, we probably would have fought with my brother for that last spot. Our train of thought after Sunday was to go toward race setup. Obviously at this point in the ballgame, we're fighting for maybe three or four (starting) spots, maybe a row and a half, so qualifying is no longer that important to us, so now we're looking at race trim. The weather today was very detrimental toward doing anything for qualifying."
ROGER YASUKAWA (No. 24 Wellman Corbier/DRR Dallara/Honda/Firestone, second-fastest non-qualified driver): "It felt really good to be back out there on the track, and I'd really like to thank the crew for getting the car ready. We weren't sure if we would be able to make it out there or not. The last time I was in a car was during last year's race, but once you get back in the seat, it's just another day at the office. Everything was familiar with the car, but we need to fine-tune some things on the car. I think the outright speed isn't too bad. I think the baseline platform feels pretty good, and we can certainly work a little more with this car to make it better for the race. Again, I'd like to thank Wellman-Corbier Custom Homes for this opportunity and also to Dreyer & Reinbold Racing for getting this car ready, and hopefully, we'll have a better day tomorrow."
JON HERB (No. 19 Racing Professionals Dallara/Honda/Firestone, third-fastest non-qualified driver): "We suffered a fuel pressure problem during our second qualification attempt on Sunday, so we returned to the track today to determine if the problem was corrected. We successfully ran through a full fuel load, and the car worked great. We had no problems. We were not looking for speed today, just doing some system checks."
PJ JONES (No. 40 Direct Diversified Team Leader Special Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fifth-fastest non-qualified driver): "It was a day just to get all of our little odds and ends tidied up and it was nice to be able to go out and run five or so laps at the end of the day just to make sure the car doesn't leak and everything's good. We should be ready tomorrow to go after it a little bit more." (About the game plan for the next few days): "We just need to get up to speed and be comfortable and get the car good for longer runs and, obviously, fast enough to get in the race. We're kind of focusing on two different things. Obviously, we'd like to get it comfortable and fast."
MILKA DUNO (No. 23 CITGO Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, sixth-fastest non-qualified driver): "Something is not right, but I have confidence in my team that they are going to find and fix what is happening now. They did a fantastic job to have the car ready for today. But I just need to find what is happening." (About her confidence heading into qualifying): "I have confidence we will have a good car. The focus now is to have a good car for qualifying on Saturday now that we have to go out in the car."
JIMMY KITE (No. 18 PDM Racing Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "I'm fine. I wasn't going fast enough to hit anything that hard. We were just shaking the car down. I don't know if something broke, or what. I was only going 206 (mph) going into the corner. It shouldn't have been loose, and it wasn't the corner before. We'll get it back. We'll look at it. It didn't look like we hurt it that bad. I'm sure Paul (Diatlovich) isn't happy right now. We'll find out what's wrong with it and get it back out. We have one car here. We want everyone with Z-line and PDM to be happy, and we will. It's a setback. Fortunately, we didn't write a car off. We'll lose the rest of the day trying to get the car back together. The big deal is we have to find out why it did that. It had no hint of doing that the corner before or even entering Turn 1."
THURSDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
9 a.m. Public Gates Open
11:59 a.m. Honorary Starter: Terri Stacy, WIBC-AM personality
Noon-6 p.m. IndyCar Series Practice
6 p.m. Track Closes
Note: Subject to change due to weather