IRL: Hornish fast, then crashes at Richmond test

Sam Hornish set the fastest lap during Thursday's open test held at Richmond International Raceway. Held one day prior to the start of official practice for Saturday night's SunTrust Indy Challenge, times from the open test will not be used should...

Sam Hornish set the fastest lap during Thursday's open test held at Richmond International Raceway. Held one day prior to the start of official practice for Saturday night's SunTrust Indy Challenge, times from the open test will not be used should rain interfere with Friday's qualifying.

Hornish, who was the only driver to crack the 170 mph barrier (171.407 mph), ended the four hour open test session day by hitting the wall at the exit of Turn four. After sliding along the front stretch wall, he climbed from his car unscathed.

Despite the crash, Hornish said, "We had a great practice session today, and we were really happy with the car. Unfortunately, we had an incident at the end of practice. I feel bad for the crew. They gave me a great car all day. We'll regroup for practice tomorrow, and hopefully we'll get the back-up car as dialed in as the primary one was this afternoon."

Marco Andretti shot to the top of the speed chart early in the session after recording a lap at 169.315 mph, the second fastest of the day. Andretti and Jeff Simmons were allowed a two-hour session this morning to get acclimated to Richmond's unique three-quarter mile configuration. "It definitely helped, and I needed that, for sure, but it doesn't give me an advantage" said Andretti. "This morning was really an opportunity to do laps here and get my bearings."

From a speed standpoint, Andretti's first laps in the afternoon session weren't very impressive. But when the 19-year old decided to push the go button he made a huge jump on the speed chart, taking the top spot for most of the day. "I really enjoy this place," said Andretti. "I think it's definitely a driver's track, which I love. We put new tires on for the last run. I think we could have bettered our time, but we ended up bottoming because we picked up so much grip on the banking."

Marco's best, set on his 32nd tour of the track, put him 0.0097 seconds ahead of his Andretti Green Racing teammate Tony Kanaan.

Scott Sharp was fourth fastest, followed by Dario Franchitti. Franchitti missed Sharp's mark by exactly one one-hundredth of a second.

Sharp said his crew was working on a race setup and "there's probably still something left in the car. This is only our fifth race with a Dallara. Any time we get extra time, we learn quite a lot, so it was quite a productive day for us."

Franchitti also enjoyed the extra track time. "It was nice to get those extra four hours to do some development work and also to tune the car for the conditions and this new tire that Firestone has brought with them. Track time is always nice to have and I think we learned some stuff. Hopefully we can use it for tomorrow and Saturday."

Series points leader Helio Castroneves was eighth fastest with a lap at 167.703 mph. Despite winning three races this season, Castroneves leads Scott Dixon in the championship standings by 22 points.

Dixon, who has one victory in 2006, was 13th fastest today after turning a lap at 165.667 mph.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Marco Andretti , Jeff Simmons , Sam Hornis