IRL: Castroneves tops Indy speed chart on Fast Friday

INDIANAPOLIS (May 10, 2002) - Speeds increased dramatically on Fast Friday as teams prepared for pole qualifying which starts tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m. local time. Thirteen drivers shattered the elusive 230 mph barrier, with four drivers ...

INDIANAPOLIS (May 10, 2002) - Speeds increased dramatically on Fast Friday as teams prepared for pole qualifying which starts tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m. local time. Thirteen drivers shattered the elusive 230 mph barrier, with four drivers recording laps above 231 mph.

Quickest on the day was Helio Castroneves, who also set fast lap on Monday at 226.716 mph. Today Castroneves' best was a blistering 232.087 mph.

As of 3:00 p.m. the Ganassi Racing trio of Kenny Brack, Bruno Junqueira and Jeff Ward topped the speed charts with laps at 229, all three a tick slower than Laurent Redon's best of the event set on Tuesday.

Twenty minutes later, the 230 barrier fell, with Junqueira posting a speed of 230.964. Barely ten minutes went by before he improved, setting the mark at 231.526.

With ninety minutes left in practice, it was time to show your hand. Robbie Buhl went over 230, then Tomas Scheckter, Tony Kanaan and Felipe Giaffone.

While Castroneves admitted to having a small tow on his best lap, he knows he has a strong shot at the pole. "The first lap, the 231, was definitely by me. It's looking close for everyone, not only for me, but everybody is looking very close. It's going to be exciting tomorrow."

Robbie Buhl was second on the day, followed by the rookie from South Africa, Tomas Scheckter, who recorded a lap at 231.6 mph. If the weather is good tomorrow, Scheckter thinks the pole may be faster than speeds recorded today. "We are still saving a little bit for qualifying tomorrow. I did a four lap run where I think most of them were over 231 (mph)."

Bruno Junqueira, who was the first driver to break the 230 barrier this year, ended the day fourth overall with a lap at 231.526 mph. "I think we could have challenged for fast time of the day, but we ended very early. I was the first car over 231 mph today, and I think we'll be good tomorrow. Good enough for them pole, I don't know. It all depends on the weather and when we decide to make our run."

Eddie Cheever came very close to the 231 mark after recording a lap at 230.882 mph to end the day fifth fastest. "A day like today is perfect for driving," Cheever said. The temperature, the amount of rubber on the track, and the lack of wind all make for perfect conditions."

Team Cheever driver Max Papis escaped injury when he spun in turn one making contact with the outside barrier. A crewmember reported that an oil line had come loose, spraying the rear tires with oil. "I am sorry the team created a problem for Max," said team owner Cheever. "He was right on schedule to be right up there on the speed charts."

Papis, who returned to the track later in the day using Scheckter's backup car, was uninjured. "I turned in and all of a sudden I found myself backward. I am not sure what happened. It's very strange."

After the accident, Papis returned to the Red Bull garage and changed the visor on his helmet. When asked why he was replacing a perfectly good visor, he held the visor to his head and said, "I looked through here and saw something I didn't like, so I am changing it."

Alex Barron was also involved in a single car accident in turn one. Barron was uninjured but his car had extensive damage to the front and rear.

Richie Hearn made his first 2002 Indianapolis 500 appearance today, practicing in the No. 20T car prepared by Treadway Racing for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Hearn was up to speed quickly and ended the day 20th after turning a total of 75 laps. "I couldn't ask for anything better in practice," said Hearn. "I ran 75 laps. I did 228.3 mph by myself, truly by myself. I really couldn't be any happier."

Notes from the 86th Indianapolis 500:

Mark Dismore was released from Methodist Hospital on Friday morning after being held overnight. Dismore suffered a concussion on Thursday afternoon and has not been cleared to drive. A decision on Dismore's status will not be made until next week.

***

Roger Penske ended any speculation regarding a return to the CART series in 2003 when he unequivocally stated, "Our team is committed this year to IRL, it's committed next year and the following year. We have no plans to run CART next year."

Both Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves have extended their contracts to compete with the team.

***

Helio Castroneves celebrated his 27th birthday today.

***

Prior to the qualifying draw, Treadway and Associates made an entry change. Arie Luyendyk and Rick Treadway have swapped cars with Arie now assigned to the No. 55 Airlink Enterprises car and Rick the No. 5 Meijer car.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Felipe Giaffone , Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl , Jeff Ward , Arie Luyendyk , Mark Dismore , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Bruno Junqueira , Max Papis , Tony Kanaan , Kenny Brack , Richie Hearn , Rick Treadway , Alex Barron , Laurent Redon , Sam Schmidt , Roger Penske
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing