Scott Dixon turned a lap at 226.971 mph to top the speed charts in what became the first practice day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway uninterrupted by weather. Dixon came close to setting the fastest lap of the event, missing the mark set on the Indy 500 opening day by Helio Castroneves by 0.0131 seconds.
"Today was similar to the last few days where we were running the car in race setup to find some mechanical grip and make it more predictable in traffic, and we were able to find some things, which were quite good," said Dixon.
Although Dixon's best lap was set early in the day, he said his car was trimmed out for his last run. "Surprisingly, it seemed pretty comfortable, pretty nice to drive and consistent," he said. "It gives us a good benchmark to start tomorrow."
Castroneves, who was eighth fastest today with a lap at 225.563 mph, saw his IndyCar Series Team Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe set the second best of the day. "We had a good, solid day," Briscoe said. "We were able to get quite a lot of work done on race setup-related items. The three Team Penske cars were able to take advantage of being a three-car operation, and we worked together on track today helping one another find speed and comfort. It really was a good day for the No. 6 car and for the whole team."
It took Alex Tagliani just 13 laps to set the third fastest lap of the day, his best coming on his 8th tour of the historic 2.5-mile speedway. "The car is pretty fast," Tagliani said. "Other than me being sick a little bit; everything is going OK. There's not much I can say about the car other than that it's comfortable out there.
"We tried a couple aero configurations. It's good when I'm behind people and when I'm alone. We didn't feel like there was a point to continue today to give ourselves and idea of what the car could do for qualifying because we know that the temperature is going to be quite different on Saturday. Tomorrow is going to be a bit warmer and little bit better of a representative of what we'll see this weekend, so we'll go out and give it a shot. So far, it's been a very good month for us," added Tagliani.
Hideki Mutoh made his first appearance in the top five, turning 74 laps with a best of 225.926 mph. "At the beginning of the day, we worked on our race setup, and that was good," he said. "I was able to run behind four cars and my car was drafting well, and I could catch people and that is a strong point for Race day. After 5 p.m., we ran with our qualifying setup."
Dario Franchitti, who is celebrating his 37th birthday today, rounded out the top five (225.850). Franchitti was surprised at his garage by a piper playing the bagpipe and a cake presented by his wife Ashley Judd.
"I kind of thought there would be something with a cake," said Franchitti. "I was expecting Tony (Kanaan) to be carrying it and I'd be wiping it off my face instead of cutting it. I had my guard up."
Will Power was sixth fastest (225.703).
Tony Kanaan (225.660) was the fastest of the five Andretti Autosport drivers. The five drivers were separated by just over four-tenths of a second but they were all over the speed chart. Marco Andretti was 12th, John Andretti 20th, Danica Patrick 21st and Ryan Hunter-Reay was 29th.
Kanaan turned 134 laps, the most of any driver. "It was a good day, and we needed it," he said. "The 7-Eleven car did a lot of laps, more than anybody. But I don't think the number of laps matters; it's the quality of the runs. We felt good and kept improving. That is why we kept running. If you think about it, we have tomorrow and Friday to be in qualifying mode; then you have Saturday and Sunday, and that's it. Today had to be our day to work for the race, and as long as we are improving, I don't care how many laps we do."
Ana Beatriz was the fastest rookie of the day in her first time ride at the 2.5-mile famous brickyard with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. She was 18th on the speed chart with a lap at 224.263 mph. "I think that we were pretty productive for today," she said. "We only have two sets of tires per day and we had to plan on what we were going to do. We had a good first session and in the second session we changed some things. Some of it worked and some didn't, but that means we are progressing and finding things. Tomorrow, hopefully we can find a little bit more speed."
E.J. Viso was released from Methodist Hospital late Tuesday evening after he was thoroughly examined by Dr. Terry trammel. Viso returned to the Speedway today where he was evaluated and cleared to drive. Viso held an impromptu press conference in his garage to explain his Turn one accident.
"Well, it was pretty late in the day, and I think it was a lot of factors put together," Viso said. "The track was a lot cooler, and we were also running light on rubber and coming through Turn 1. I just lost the rear, and that's all I remember."
Viso had hoped to return to the track today but did not get the opportunity. "We're focusing on the backup car. I think we're going to run the backup at least for this month. Everybody on the crew is trying to get the car ready in a couple of hours so that we can get back on track."