By Tom Haapanen - Motorsport.com
Tony Kanaan missed much of the morning practice session, having spun into the wall just fifteen minutes into the session. However, when he finally got on track, just minutes from the end of the session, he was not only back, he was back with a vengeance.
Kanaan, fifth in Friday's practice, rattled off a series of fastest laps in the dying minutes of the session, and looked to have clinched the top spot for the final practice session before this afternoon's qualifying with a time of 58.444.
However, on his final lap, with seconds ticking away, Shinji Nakano pulled out a shockingly fast 58.133 in his Reynard-Honda, easily beating Kanaan, and also eclipsing Friday's top time of 58.400, set by Penske's Gil de Ferran. Nakano's own time on Friday had been 59.642, well off the pace.
"I was able to work with my engineer to get a very good balance," said Nakano. "But this is not qualifying. Everyone is doing a different strategy …"
Nakano has only scored a single point this year on road courses, and qualified 10th at Cleveland two weeks ago.
Behind the top two runners, "close" was the word of the day, with 18 drivers setting times below 59 seconds, up from five yesterday. Rookie Bruno Junqueira finished in third at 58.544, having held the top spot near the end, followed by Gil de Ferran (58.582) and Mario Andretti (58.592).
The practice session seemed, at times, to be awash with flags. In addition to red flags brought on by spins and crashes (Helio Castroneves, Kanaan, and Patrick Carpentier), Christian Fittipaldi and Dario Franchitti were also black-flagged for pit road speed violations.
Qualifying for the Molson Indy begins at 1:45 PM EDT today.