Baltimore Friday Afternoon Update

RELAX, BALTIMORE! Now that the cars are on the track, there are smiles all around. Any anxieties about the track seem to be fading, and — get this — the stands are full to WATCH PRACTICE! IndyCar staffers joked to one another that, prior to the race cars running on the track, the crowd cheered anything that moved, including volunteers on golf cars.

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The first practice of the Indy cars in Baltimore is in the books. Like their Indy Lights and ALMS peers, they found the track to be challenging and bumpy. Ryan Briscoe, EJ Viso and Scott Dixon found the wall, as the bumps seemed to toss drives already already struggling to learn the brand-new course.

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Justin Wilson continued to recover. Word in the paddock is that he's wearing a "clam shell" device to keep his (considerably tall) body supported during the healing process. No one can say for sure which impact caused the injury, as he suffered one impact as he was launched into the air and another when he came down. And no one can say for sure that his seating arrangement in the car — he doesn't exactly have a seat, in order to allow him to fit — hindered either. Hopefully, the new FIA specs that are reflected in the new 2012 chassis will make such problems a thing of the past.

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The Firestone Indy Lights practice is over, with Josef Newgarden and Connor Daly the fastest two in practice. Both had huge smiles on their face, describing the track as a lot of fun to drive. The concrete portions are the bumpiest of the year so far, but the newly-paved asphalt sections are very smooth. Former IndyCar and NASCAR driver Willie T. Ribbs (yes, this is a 1980's flashback!) is entered in this race, and his pace was 10 seconds off of the fastest lap of Newgarden. Given the bumpiness of the course, no doubt he's gonna be a little sore too.

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The first ALM practice is in the books, and aside from the teams noticing the bumpiness, things went well. The Lola B09 Mazda of Dyson and Smith lead P1 and were fastest overall. — Tim Wohlford, reporting from Baltimore

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