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Team Penske drivers poised to take Indy 500 pole UPDATE Roger Penske could be in line for his record 15th On the final practice day before Pole Day, Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves recorded the fastest laps on the 2.5-mile oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Ryan Briscoe
Briscoe was fastest with a lap at 39.8263 seconds, 225.981 mph, while Castroneves was second with a lap at 225.438 mph. Briscoe earned $10,000 from F.E. Harding Asphalt Companies for the fastest lap on Fast Friday.

The past two race winners, Target Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Dario Franchitti (2007) and Scott Dixon (2008), were third and fourth, respectively, while Andretti Green Racing's Danica Patrick was fifth.

The top 11 positions in the 33-car starting field will be determined Saturday. The pole winner has gone on to win two of the last three "500s." Positions 12-22 will be filled Sunday. The remainder of the field will be filled May 16, and Bump Day is scheduled for May 17.

Pit lane was busy on Friday
Interrupted a couple of times by light rain showers, the day also was punctuated by a pair of heavy crashes.  Robert Doornbos, quickest of the six rookies in the field, crashed exiting Turn 1 just 30 minutes into the session, and veteran Scott Sharp spun and crashed entering Turn 2 just after 2:30 p.m.  Neither driver was injured and Doornbos returned to action later in the day, driving a backup car.


RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, fastest): "It's hard to tell on the test days, because there's lot of traffic on the circuit. We just have to wait until qualifying when you are the only car on the track. I'm feeling good, though. I think the car is running very solid. We've done some non-drafting laps, and the car's been fast. Tomorrow is another day, and everyone is going to be going for it. Hopefully, there won't be any surprises and we can stay at the top." (What do you think the pole speed will be?): "I'm not sure. It depends on conditions. Around this track, with just some humidity or wind change you can lose or gain 2 mph. We've gotten in the high 225's. That will be a good target for tomorrow." (About winning the pole): "You get a point this year, which is awesome. It's a big one here at Indianapolis. I was on the front row last year, and I feel like my car is better than last year, so we're definitely going for it."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, second): "It was a great day today. Team Penske is looking really strong, but tomorrow is what counts. It's all about getting those four consistent laps together - the four most important laps in motorsports. Hopefully we'll get a good starting position and we can begin to work on our race car."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, third): "I think today was overall a pretty solid day. We worked on the mechanical side of the car this morning and dialed that in, so we have a good direction of where we needed to be aero-wise. We tried a couple things, and at the end of the day the Target car was in a place we liked. On to qualifying tomorrow."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, fourth): "Yeah, I think tomorrow will be a whole other unique set of conditions for us, really. The weather here in Indianapolis has been quite unpredictable, but we think we have a strong shot at the pole for tomorrow. The Penske cars have been pretty fast, as well, though. Dario has been strong, as well, so we're optimistic about getting solidly into the race."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola, fifth): "It turned out to be a day we could use again just like yesterday. Thank goodness, because yesterday afternoon we weren't bad, we just weren't perfectly happy with the balance, and we didn't feel like we were getting the most out of the car, so we just kept our cool last night and didn't make big changes. We really just went back to basics and back to what we started with when we were happy. The problem with Indy is that sometimes there's time and you can confuse yourself just by thinking, 'I've got to make changes because we have another run; let's make a change.' But really it's just a matter of staying cool and keeping up with the conditions a little bit. We got a couple good laps in, and I think that we're faster than we were yesterday. Penske is pretty fast, though. Ganassi is always going to pose a problem, but Penske looks quickest right now." (About who she thinks will win the pole): "I would be surprised if one of the Penske's wasn't on the pole. They seem to really be quick right now. But anything can happen around here. You can be one small change or two or three small changes away from having a really great car or a really bad car or at least a car that's not in the ballpark for the front spot. Anything can happen."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy, sixth): "I'm pleased with Team Venom Energy's performance today and glad the rain held off. It would have been nice to take home the Fast Friday check, but we got the track time we needed, and I think we have a good set up for qualifying. Tomorrow is going to be stressful, for sure, but I think the No. 26 car will be a pole contender."

DAN WHELDON (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing, eighth): "We worked hard on the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car. It was one of those days where you perhaps didn't accomplish as much as you had liked because of the intermittent interruptions with rain. I think at this point you've got what you've got. It depends on what you're looking for tomorrow. Obviously, I would like to be pretty aggressive. At the same token, you have to remember the race is the thing that counts. Certainly, the Team Penske cars look incredibly strong. But I feel we're definitely a contender. We just have to get everything absolutely right. We'll see the development stuff that we have in store for tonight and how that performs tomorrow. It's great to be at the Speedway, and I'm certainly enjoying it. It would nice to be on the front row. I'd love the pole. I've never been on the pole here. I've sat on the front row a lot. By the same token, I think if you're on the pole or on the front row people remember you for a couple of weeks. I'd much rather win the race."

HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 27 Formula Dream, ninth): "The Formula Dream car had a good day. My goal was to reach 225 mph today. I got to 224 mph, which is close, so that's OK. During the last hour, we tried a new setup but didn't get much speed from the change, so we have a better idea of what to do for tomorrow. The morning practice session tomorrow should be helpful, and the No. 27 car will be ready for qualifying."

ALEX LLOYD (No. 99 HER CGR/SSM Racing, 10th): "We planned on doing short runs today, because we're trying to prepare for qualifying. We did a lot of small runs and kept trimming out the downforce, getting the car ready for qualifying, and we improved the car a lot balance-wise overnight. I think we're in the window where we're pretty happy. We're pleased with the speed of the car, and I think we can go a little bit quicker if we take off a little more downforce. Obviously, the aim is to try and get qualified tomorrow, and I think we've got a car that's capable of doing that. I'm happy with the balance now, but the wind could pick up tomorrow and change everything in terms of setup. Going into tomorrow though, I'm pretty happy and confident."

ROBERT DOORNBOS (No. 06 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing): "Going into Turn 1, I felt something really light on the front of the car, and then I brushed the wall. Then I went into the Turn 2 wall. Hopefully, it was just driver error and nothing went wrong on the car and we are able to fix it and come back strong tomorrow."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 16 Tequila Patron Panther Racing): (About the accident): "We were on a sticker run. It was the second lap, pretty easy. I rolled down in there, and it just snapped on me. I'm not exactly sure what's up." (About how this affects Pole Day): "I have to go back and figure all of that out with the Panther team. We've been struggling a little bit to gain more speed and didn't really need this to happen right now. We'll see what the plan is and find a way to rebound."

Fast Friday Results

Pos Car Driver Team Time Speed Laps
1. 6 Ryan Briscoe Team Penske 39.8263 225.981 23
2. 3 Helio Castroneves Team Penske 39.9223 225.438 27
3. 10 Dario Franchitti Chip Ganassi Racing 40.0029 224.984 35
4. 9 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing 40.0317 224.822 32
5. 7 Danica Patrick Andretti Green Racing 40.0436 224.755 50
6. 26 Marco Andretti Andretti Green Racing 40.0492 224.724 47
7. 12 Will Power Team Penske 40.0733 224.588 34
8. 4 Dan Wheldon Panther Racing 40.1146 224.357 13
9. 27 Hideki Mutoh Andretti Green Racing 40.1388 224.222 32
10. 99 Alex Lloyd CGR/Sam Schmidt Motorsports 40.1393 224.219 36
11. 02 Graham Rahal Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing 40.1528 224.144 46
12. 11 Tony Kanaan Andretti Green Racing 40.1726 224.033 48
13. 06 Robert Doornbos* Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing 40.1867 223.955 12
14. 5 Mario Moraes KV Racing Technology 40.2549 223.575 32
15. 14 Vitor Meira A.J. Foyt Enterprises 40.2573 223.562 53
16. 26 Marco Andretti Andretti Green Racing 40.2747 223.465 5
17. 15 Paul Tracy KV Racing Technology 40.2916 223.372 30
18. 2 Raphael Matos* Luczo Dragon Racing 40.4203 222.660 73
19. 67 Sarah Fisher Sarah Fisher Racing 40.4596 222.444 75
20. 43 John Andretti Richard Petty Motorsports/DRR 40.5262 222.079 29
21. 20 Ed Carpenter Vision Racing 40.5367 222.021 68
22. 44 Davey Hamilton DRR/Kingdom Racing 40.5440 221.981 25
23. 16 Scott Sharp Panther Racing 40.5882 221.739 25
24. 18 Justin Wilson Dale Coyne Racing 40.5885 221.738 64
25. 34 Alex Tagliani* Conquest Racing 40.6250 221.538 75
26. 41 A.J. Foyt IV A.J. Foyt Enterprises 40.7525 220.845 23
27. 13 EJ Viso HVM Racing 40.7540 220.837 47
28. 21 Ryan Hunter-Reay Vision Racing 40.7949 220.616 58
29. 24 Mike Conway* Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 40.8163 220.500 56
30. 00 Nelson Philippe* HVM Racing 40.9376 219.847 30
31. 23 Milka Duno Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 40.9708 219.669 39
32. 98 Stanton Barrett* CURB/Agajanian/Team 3G 41.1506 218.709 53
33. 06T Robert Doornbos* Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing 41.3382 217.716 6

* Rookie

05/08/09 With a little over one hour to go in practice Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Team Penske drivers Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves sit 1-2 on the timesheets, which bodes well for them in Saturday qualifying.

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