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Sun, Speed And Three Crashes At Indy

SPEEDWAY, IN: Sunshine returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and 36 drivers took advantage of the first complete six-hour practice day since May 6 to turn 2,164 laps on the historic 2.5-mile oval. Scott Dixon, who won the pole for the 92nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 10, topped the speed chart at 223.713 mph.

Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe were second and third, respectively, with Will Power fourth and Graham Rahal fifth.

1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier turned his first laps of the month in the No. 91 Hemelgarn Johnson entry. He will attempt to qualify for his 16th Indianapolis 500.

Friday’s practice was the final opportunity for 25 drivers who have not yet qualified for the 500-Mile Race to prepare for qualification attempts. Starting positions 12-33 will be determined by four-lap qualifying attempts May 17. Drivers who don’t qualify will attempt to bump their way into the field on May 18.

Friday’s practice was marred by three incidents. E.J. Viso, Will Power and Ryan Briscoe were all uninjured in separate incidents and are cleared to drive.

On Thursday, former 500 champion Dan Wheldon was asked to evaluate the 2008 rookie crop. Weldon said he felt that all the newcomers were doing a good job showing respect to the Speedway…with the possible exception of Viso.

“There are two kinds of drivers at Indy: those who have hit the wall, and those who WILL hit the wall. So far, E.J. Viso is one of the former, but that could change”.

E J Viso talked with the media after his accident, which he blamed on a heavy fuel load and imbalance in the car.

“I’m fine. I’m ready to hop back in the car again,” he said. “We’re still looking at the data, but it was the first run heavy on fuel, and it felt like it bottomed out. The line was good and everything was smooth in the steering wheel. I just lost the rear of the car.”

Rookie Will Power, the 2008 Long Beach Grand Prix winner, had turned a lap of 223.039 mph, and appeared comfortable just prior to his incident.

Power was hopeful of a quick return to the racing surface after a Turn 1 incident at approximately 2 PM today.

The damage was a bit more than whitewalling the tires, creating a need for repair to the car’s suspension bits and left front wing area.

“The guys will get us back out for practice tomorrow,” said Power from Gasoline Alley.”We do have a backup,” he added, “but we’re going to fix this car. The damage is not that bad, and we’ll get it done.”

“We weren’t even up to speed through the corner on the outlap,” he continued. “It was a gust of wind, and even with the adjustment to the car we made it caught me out very late in the corner. There’s just no catching these cars once they get sliding.”

Late in the day, front row qualifier Ryan Briscoe had a problem om his own while practicing his Penske T-car.

“I thought the grip would be fine” he said, after going through the narrow alley at the end of Indy’s long front straightaway, “but there was nothing there and around she went.”

Briscoe’s already-qualified primary car stayed in the garage today, safely remaining intact for next weekend’s Indy 500 race.

Non-stop track activity should be on tap tomorrow as the final 22 starting positions for the 92nd Indianapolis 500 go up for grabs.

Today’s practice times:

Pos Driver Name Best Time Best Speed Best Lap Total Laps
1 Scott Dixon (9) 40.2301 223.713 32 80
2 Helio Castroneves (3T) 40.2845 223.411 23 103
3 Ryan Briscoe (6T) 40.2916 223.372 40 86
4 Will Power (8) 40.3516 223.039 8 12
5 Graham Rahal (06) 40.3661 222.959 58 59
6 John Andretti (24) 40.3841 222.860 17 21
7 Marco Andretti (26) 40.4015 222.764 116 126
8 Dan Wheldon (10) 40.4168 222.680 29 56
9 Oriol Servia (5) 40.4575 222.456 8 94
10 Danica Patrick (7) 40.4699 222.388 39 64
11 Bruno Junqueira (18) 40.5219 222.102 30 33
12 Buddy Rice (15) 40.5554 221.919 44 49
13 Townsend Bell (99) 40.5667 221.857 85 86
14 Tony Kanaan (11) 40.6079 221.632 57 80
15 Alex Lloyd (16) 40.6251 221.538 36 37
16 Mario Moraes (19) 40.6366 221.475 54 60
17 Sarah Fisher (67) 40.7155 221.046 53 63
18 Hideki Mutoh (27) 40.7465 220.878 55 69
19 Vitor Meira (4T) 40.7690 220.756 41 118
20 Ed Carpenter (20) 40.7746 220.726 50 76
21 Darren Manning (14) 40.8533 220.300 28 28
22 Enrique Bernoldi (36) 40.8539 220.297 49 51
23 Davey Hamilton (22) 40.8645 220.240 55 64
24 Jeff Simmons (41) 40.8885 220.111 15 15
25 Tomas Scheckter (12) 40.9079 220.006 10 77
26 Max Papis (44) 40.9168 219.959 92 92
27 A.J. Foyt IV (2) 40.9261 219.909 29 41
28 Milka Duno (23) 40.9290 219.893 52 60
29 Justin Wilson (02) 40.9444 219.810 18 62
30 Roger Yasukawa (98) 40.9944 219.542 40 60
31 Mario Dominguez (96) 41.0596 219.194 33 53
32 Marty Roth (25) 41.1050 218.951 20 58
33 Jaime Camara (34) 41.1238 218.851 15 50
34 Ryan Hunter-Reay (17T) 41.1649 218.633 29 29
35 Buddy Lazier (91) 41.5911 216.392 51 51
36 EJ Viso (33) 50.5897 177.902 1 1

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