Vegas: Danica Patrick tops practice 1

UPDATE Danica Patrick served notice Thursday that she is ready to battle for the win in Sunday's IZOD INDYCAR World Championships at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The driver of the No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com machine posted the fastest speed of the day with a sensational 224.719 mph lap on the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval north of the Las Vegas Strip.

Patrick, in her final IZOD IndyCar Series race, led the Andretti Autosport contingent that included Ryan Hunter-Reay in third, Mike Conway in fifth and Marco Andretti, who was seventh in his 100th IndyCar start.

At one point during the one-hour practice, the Andretti Autosport team sat in positions one through four on the speed charts. The four drivers worked well in traffic and showed impressive performance in hot conditions.

"It's friggin fast out there," said Patrick, driving the No. 7 Team GoDaddy car. "It's almost Indy speeds out there. Nothing would let me turn the page than winning here."

Andretti Autosport teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay (223.888; third), Mike Conway (223.558; fifth) and Marco Andretti (223.509; seventh) joined her in the top 10.

Dario Franchitti and Will Power, who will decide the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series championship between them, were ninth and 14th, respectively.

10/13/11 Departing IndyCar driver Danica Patrick turned the fastest lap in practice 1 for Sunday's IndyCar finale. After this weekend Ms. Patrick becomes a NASCAR driver full-time. There is a Indy Lights practice session today followed by practice and qualifying on Friday.

Results

Rank

Car Driver Speed Diff. Gap
1 7 Danica Patrick 224.719 0.0000 0.0000
2 2 Oriol Servia 224.026 0.0765 0.0765
3 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay 223.888 0.0918 0.0153
4 9 Scott Dixon 223.689 0.1139 0.0221
5 27 Mike Conway 223.558 0.1285 0.0146
6 3 Helio Castroneves 223.519 0.1328 0.0043
7 26 Marco Andretti 223.509 0.1339 0.0011
8 6 Ryan Briscoe 223.482 0.1369 0.0030
9 10 Dario Franchitti 223.465 0.1388 0.0019
10 38 Graham Rahal 222.869 0.2053 0.0665
11 83 Charlie Kimball 222.854 0.2070 0.0017
12 82 Tony Kanaan 222.635 0.2315 0.0245
13 67 Ed Carpenter 222.375 0.2607 0.0292
14 12 Will Power 222.220 0.2782 0.0175
15 06 James Hinchcliffe 222.197 0.2807 0.0025
16 14 Vitor Meira 222.021 0.3006 0.0199
17 5 Takuma Sato 221.960 0.3075 0.0069
18 78 Simona de Silvestro 221.847 0.3202 0.0127
19 30 Pippa Mann 221.679 0.3392 0.0190
20 17 Wade Cunningham 221.648 0.3427 0.0035
21 8 Paul Tracy 221.459 0.3641 0.0214
22 77 Dan Wheldon 221.440 0.3663 0.0022
23 77 Alex Tagliani 221.426 0.3678 0.0015
24 4 JR Hildebrand 221.360 0.3753 0.0075
25 24 Ana Beatriz 221.271 0.3854 0.0101
26 44 Buddy Rice 221.002 0.4160 0.0306
27 57 Tomas Scheckter 220.950 0.4219 0.0059
28 11 Davey Hamilton 220.577 0.4645 0.0426
29 34 Sebastian Saavedra 220.535 0.4693 0.0048
30 22 Townsend Bell 220.392 0.4856 0.0163
31 19 Alex Lloyd 220.287 0.4976 0.0120
32 59 EJ Viso 219.877 0.5447 0.0471
33 18 James Jakes 219.565 0.5806 0.0359
34 15 Jay Howard 219.466 0.5920 0.0114

POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "We have some work to do on the Target car. I wasn't happy where we were to start today. Lots of work to do to get the car where we need it to be for the race on Sunday."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "I think it was a pretty marginal start to the weekend for us really. The race is going to be interesting that's for sure. We made a lot of changes to both cars but nothing really changed where we were at on the time sheets. We'll go back and discuss it and see what we can come up with for qualifying."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Dr Pepper TEN): "The Dr Pepper TEN car had a strong practice today – this is the car to win the race. Now we just need to capitalize on what we have. It's be great to win in my 100th career start."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team Go Daddy): "It's friggin' fast here. Almost a 225 lap is like Indy speeds. The track is nice and smooth and we'll be three-wide out there, which will be exciting. The race is going to be crazy and the crashes will be spectacular. Nothing would let me turn the page better than winning here."

ORIOL SERVIA (No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing): "Yeah, you could tell with Danica and I talking, it's so fast. It's just so fast and so close to each other, it's exciting. The fans are going to get a good show. It's kind of crazy. It's great that the track is smooth, you can be consistent and try to keep your car in line and follow the car in front when you're three wide. Like Kentucky with the bumps, for example, it is more difficult because you never know where the car is going to land. Here it is great because it is smooth. Because it's smooth it allows everybody to be really close, we're talking three wide, I'm sure at some moments we will be four wide. It's not just one row, it's going to be like five rows of three wide and five more rows of three wide. There's really no room for error. It's exciting, I'm sure on TV and that the fans here will have a great show." (You've got fourth in the points locked up, how does that align with the goals you set for yourself at the start of the season?): "It's an amazing position to be in. I've never been at a race where I have nothing to lose in terms of points. I only have a good show to put out there and go for the win. The whole team feels very happy to finish this way. We can try to be a little more risky on strategy and the setup of the car a little more edgy and the driving too. We are very excited about the opportunity."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda): "It was a pretty good first outing. We ran pretty well as a team. I think we have great race cars. We were good at Kentucky in the race too. We were able to run in similar conditions as Sunday's race. It's going to be hot and it's going to intense for 200 laps."

MIKE CONWAY (No. 27 Team Grime Boss): "We were okay today. It is going to be a crazy race on Sunday. This place is fast. I wasn't too fast by myself, but we were better in the draft. We'll see how things go in Friday's practice and qualifying."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central): "The No. 38 Service Central car feels really good. I think we're pretty quick on our own and in a tow we just ran out of gear, so we didn't get the big lap time we were looking for. At the end of the day it's just practice, and we'll keeping working on getting a good race car. All four of our cars quick, but so are a lot of the other teams so we'll really need to be on our game for the race on Sunday."

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Levemir & NovoLog Flex Pen): "It was a really good start to the weekend for Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing. We got comfortable running in a pack, running high and low and working our way through traffic. At the end of our session we were really quick, but lap times are kind of irrelevant when cars are running in a pack like they were. We'll continue to work at it, but I think we have a really good race car. The No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog FlexPen car should be running in the top 10 pretty solidly all day on Sunday."

TONY KANAAN (No. 82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus): "It was a good start. The GEICO – KVRT – Lotus car was pretty good out of the box and we ran very consistent laps under traffic. We still have a couple of things to try tomorrow before qualifying, but I'm happy with how the 82 was handling today. Tonight we have a parade down on the strip and it will be very cool for all the fans and the visitors that are here in Vegas to check our cars."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus): "It was a productive first day. We really needed to find some speed after Kentucky, so we made a few changes. The car worked well in traffic and we now need to work on preparing for qualifying tomorrow. The Las Vegas facility is very clean and impressive. The track is very high banked and smooth so I hope it's going to be a good weekend for us."

E.J. VISO (No. 59 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus: "What a nice track to finish the championship on. I really enjoyed running on it. It is quite high banked and you can pretty much run flat through the first corner out of the pits. We made make a few changes to the car and then it was feeling pretty good, however shortly after we got a fluid leak and finished early. I am looking forward to getting back on track tomorrow and having a good qualifying."

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing): "It's going to be one hell of a race. That's probably the most exciting practice session I have ever been in. The track is awesome. Actually, maybe it's not awesome because it leaves us so much grip and so much freedom to put the cars where we want that we are giving each other much less margins out there. With Kentucky being so bumpy the cars move around a lot more so you didn't see that as much. It's going to be a show. I think qualifying is going to be a little more important because the further back you get, the more manic it's going to get. Hopefully we can start in the top-10 and work our way forward in the race."

PIPPA MANN (No. 30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing): "It was a good feeling getting out on track today – we were able to run some competitive laps and despite a slightly interrupted practice session, we gathered some worthwhile data. I'm pretty confident we'll have a good race car on Sunday, as I was able to run inside and outside of people out there on the track and set some fairly decent times in clean air, so I'm really looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow."

JAY HOWARD (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing): "I think today was a good start and we're just going to keep pushing and looking for more speed. Having a teammate here will allow us to try a greater number of changes as we try to find time, and allows us to gather valuable data that will help us move forward. I am really looking forward to the rest of the race weekend and representing Service Central as well as R66T and Cyrca on the #15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan car."

TOWNSEND BELL (No. 22 Dad's Root Beer/DRR): "We've got a great car balance wise and we were really pleased in that practice session, we learned a lot. I'm feeling much better about our chances after that practice. It was lively with E.J .Viso blowing up right in front of me. You don't see that very often in the series, so that was a challenge, but everything was OK and went smoothly."

ANA BEATRIZ (No. 24 Team Ipiranga/DRR): "The Ipiranga car was okay. We just kept improving it throughout the practice session. It was a little disappointing to start out with, but we worked on making it better. It's very tight right now. The goal is to continue to work on it and I think we will be good."

DAVEY HAMILTON (No. 11 HP Everybody On/DRR): "We had improvements from when we first pulled out to where we ended. On the last run, I didn't have the opportunity to get traffic, so I was by myself when I did my fastest lap time, which was a decent time. We definitely have something to go by and we have some hope."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Guidepoint Systems Team Penske): "It was a good start today for the Guidepoint Systems car. It's my first time here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and we took our time to get to know the track and I think we have a pretty good idea where we need to go for the weekend."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 IZOD Team Penske Dallara/Honda): "We had a good practice today. The IZOD Team Penske car had good speed and we feel good about our chances this weekend. It's definitely going to be an interesting race."

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): "We still have some speed to find in the Verizon car but it was a decent start for us today. It's good to get some laps in here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and we'll be working hard to get the most out of the car in practice and qualifying tomorrow."

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing): "We had a pretty good day. I didn't put in any major lap times and we spent a lot of time running in traffic and feel really good about where we're at. Just in a general sense, the racing this weekend is going to be crazy. The number of cars out there that could run side-by-side, from being three-wide from one pack to another was pretty intense and was almost easy as long as you could stay aware of where cars are around you. The race is going to be really exciting for the fans and in the end that's what we're all here for."

BUDDY RICE (No. 44 Fuzzy's Vodka Panther Racing): "It was a good day for us in the Fuzzy's Vodka car. The car feels good, and we'll make a couple more adjustments for tomorrow heading into the practice and the qualifications. We'll see if we can't qualify closer to the front than we did in Kentucky, that way we can be more racy at that start and I think that will make a big difference where we end up."

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