Castroneves tops Franchitti on Day 1 at Belle Isle Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves paced the opening day of preparations for the Detroit Indy Grand Prix Presented by Firestone at the Raceway at Belle Isle.
Castroneves, who has won the pole for three of the four previous road/street course events this season, turned a lap of 1 minute, 13.3130 seconds, 101.646 mph, in the Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone. 2007 Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti was second fastest with a lap of 1:13.3447, 101.602 mph in the No. 27 Canadian Club car.
IndyCar Series points leader Scott Dixon overcame a mechanical failure in the opening practice session to post the third-fastest lap (101.073) followed by Franchitti's Andretti Green Racing teammates Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti, who were fourth and fifth, respectively.
The real surprise has been the strength of ex-Champ Car driver Ryan Hunter-Reay who continues to demoralize his more experienced IRL star Scott Sharp by over a second a lap for the Rahal Letterman team. In fact ex-Champ Car drivers dominate the top of the grid.
Single-lap qualifying followed by the Firestone Fast Six session are scheduled for Saturday.
Pos Driver Lap Time Behind
1 Helio Castroneves (3) 1:13.3130 ...
2 Dario Franchitti (27) 1:13.4702 0.1572
3 Scott Dixon (9) 1:13.7286 0.4156
4 Tony Kanaan (11) 1:13.7434 0.4304
5 Marco Andretti (26) 1:14.5218 1.2088
6 Ryan Hunter-Reay (17) 1:14.6862 1.3732
7 Vitor Meira (4) 1:14.6865 1.3735
8 Sam Hornish Jr (6) 1:14.8298 1.5168
9 Tomas Scheckter (2) 1:15.0778 1.7648
10 Darren Manning (14) 1:15.3621 2.0491
11 Danica Patrick (7) 1:15.7939 2.4809
12 Scott Sharp (8) 1:15.8556 2.5426
13 Kosuke Matsuura (55) 1:16.5951 3.2821
14 Dan Wheldon (10) 1:16.7193 3.4063
15 Ed Carpenter (20) 1:16.8512 3.5382
16 Buddy Rice (15) 1:17.2411 3.9281
17 Sarah Fisher (5) 1:17.8633 4.5503
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fastest of the day): "I had one moment when I did one of those 360s, thank God the camera didn't catch it because I think Roger (Penske) might be upset about that. The car was quick right out of the box. The track seemed to be changing quite a lot throughout the day. At one point, we were improving our time, and then within the next few laps, the times were slower. You're like, 'What is going on?' But of all this is typical with a concrete surface. As we put more rubber down, the track will get faster. This morning we would have had a very good lap but unfortunately the yellow caught us out a little bit. We were able to put in a good lap in the afternoon session. No question, those guys (AGR) are really, really fast again. We're going to have to continue pushing very hard."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone, second fastest of the day): "Practice was good. I wasn't quite as happy this afternoon as I was this morning. We actually went quicker this morning. But we're pretty happy. We had a good consistent car."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, third-fastest of the day): "There was lots of stuff going on, especially in the first session on our wets. We spun out and it took us out for about an hour of the session. It's been a bit of a struggle, just trying to get the car back up to speed and make sure we get into the fast five this afternoon. We've been moving along pretty consistently. I feel we made a few changes towards the end that put us in the right direction."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fourth-fastest of the day): "I have a lot of memories here. On the first lap, I said hi to the walls that I had hit and told them I don't want to see them around. I have a lot of good memories. Helio and I had good battles here in the past, so here we go again. I guess nothing has changed in the ten years that have passed. It's a great track - very slippery, very difficult and bumpy as usual. It's no worse than 10 years ago. It makes us (work) to make a bigger difference. It's going to be a tough race."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 NYSE Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fifth-fastest of the day): "I think we had a pretty good day today. I think there's still a little more speed in the NYSE car and we've still got a little bit of time to find it. We'll spend some time debriefing tonight and be ready for qualifying tomorrow."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, sixth-fastest of the day): "The Team Penske car was pretty good today, and we seemed to be able to run consistently in the top five, which seems to be our usual position for road courses this year. Then, right at the end of the second practice session, we went out to scuff a set of tires, and the back end of the car got away from me and we made contact with the wall. I feel bad for the crew because they'll have to spend time fixing the car tonight, but hopefully we'll be able to come out tomorrow and concentrate on minimizing our mistakes the rest of the weekend. If we can do that, I'm hopeful that I'll be able to secure another solid finish for the Team."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone, seventh-fastest of the day): "It was another good first day for the Ethanol team. We're sticking to our pattern of being faster every session. This is a fun track. It's a big risk/reward track. You put yourself at risk on a couple of these corners here, but if you don't, you aren't going to be running with the frontrunners."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 2 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, ninth-fastest of the day): "Practice went well. We weren't sure what the car would be like here when we unloaded, but we got off on the right foot and things went well in the morning. This afternoon, we were just feeling things out and getting a good car together for the end. I was putting in my best lap of the day at the end of the afternoon session when Sam (Hornish) hit the wall and brought out the yellow to close the practice. That was unfortunate, but I'm confident in what we have and looking forward to the rest of the weekend."
DARREN MANNING (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Honda/ Firestone, 10th-fastest of the day): "It is an interesting track and I'm learning it as is everyone else. It's hard work with how bumpy it is, but it's like St. Pete so hopefully, we'll be more competitive. In our second session, we kept getting faster even as the tires were getting older so I think all of the changes we were making were good changes."
A.J. FOYT IV (No. 22 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, 17th-fastest of the day): "Practice went OK this morning. It wasn't bad, but the motor was losing some water so unfortunately we had to change the engine and miss the afternoon practice session. The guys are just working hard on the car to get it put back together for tomorrow."