After losing two days of track activity due to rain, drivers returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for an abbreviated practice session. Scott Dixon topped the speed charts with a lap at 226.968 mph before rain started falling around 3:00 p.m. The session, originally scheduled for six hours (12:00-6:00) was officially checkered at 3:57 p.m.
Dixon referred to Fast Friday as a "tow-fest," reporting that "it was very hard to get clear laps. I maybe had a couple of clear laps the whole day. Everybody's speed fell off when they were by themselves."
While four drivers turned laps in excess of 226 mph, pit lane observers have speculated that it will take four laps at 244 mph to earn one of 11 starting positions that will be filled on Saturday.
That shouldn't be a problem for Andretti Green Racing as Marco Andretti flirted with 225 mph during his first six lap stint and went on to record the second fastest lap of the day at 226.710 mph. "The car has shown consistency right from the start," said Andretti. Starting the day with a well balanced car, Andretti went straight to work trimming the car's aerodynamics. "Hopefully, we roll off the same tomorrow."
Andretti Green Racing placed all four of their cars in the top eight with Tony Kanaan third (226.668 mph), Hideki Mutoh fifth (225.990 mph) and Danica Patrick eighth (224.744 mph).
Penske Racing's Ryan Briscoe was fourth fastest (226.143 mph); while his teammate Helio Castroneves was 11th at 224.016 mph. Castroneves was unable to match his speed from Monday (224.576 mph), which placed him 10th on the combined charts. Briscoe said he was happy with his car and hence, only turned 24 laps. "We didn't want to risk anything by running in traffic too much," he said.
Although he wasn't too concerned, Castroneves said he would have liked more track time today. "I would have liked to do a few more things out there, but I still think we're in good shape for tomorrow. I'm not concerned about other drivers' speeds today, because I think a lot of them were getting tows."
Vitor Meira was seventh fastest today with Tomas Scheckter and Ryan Hunter-Reay, ninth and tenth respectively. Meira thinks he'll be able to put his Panther Racing entry in the show on Pole Day. "Man, our car is fast," he said. "The only issue we had is in Turn 1, where the car is pushing. In the other three turns the car is great. On our fastest lap I even lifted in Turn 1, so I know we're going to be quick tomorrow."
Buddy Rice, who sits 11th on the combined speed charts, will be a contender for a first day qualifying position too. Rice turned in the 12th fastest lap of the day after nearly hitting the wall at the exit of Turn two. "If it's not scary in qualifying, you're not going fast enough," said Rice, who had to be on a simulated qualifying run.
Practice was stopped twice for on track incidents, the first when Mario Dominguez spun exiting the pits. Dominguez climbed from the car without assistance and was taken to the infield car center where he was checked and released. Dominguez has been cleared to drive.
Alex Lloyd wasn't as lucky. He made hard contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn one and had to be assisted from the car by safety crews before being transported to Methodist Hospital. An initial CAT scan revealed no fractures. Lloyd may be held overnight for observation after reporting neck pain.
Dale Coyne Racing crewman Chuck Buckman was taken to Methodist Hospital after being hit by Danica Patrick on pit lane. Buckman was awake and alert when he was taken to the hospital to be treated for a concussion and scalp and facial lacerations. "I really don't remember how it happened," said Buckman. "All I remember is I was talking to someone on Marco Andretti's team, and then everything is blank from that point. I will be okay and hopefully back to work in a day or two."