IRL: Huge crowd greets final Indy 500 practice

A crowd in excess of one hundred thousand screaming race fans cheered, stomped and sunned to a parbroil as their heroes, led by Andretti Green Racing's Tony Kanaan, staged the final rehearsal on the big stage at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on ...

A crowd in excess of one hundred thousand screaming race fans cheered, stomped and sunned to a parbroil as their heroes, led by Andretti Green Racing's Tony Kanaan, staged the final rehearsal on the big stage at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday, Carb Day, May 25th.

Kanaan's speed of 225.467 mph came on an flatly hot day in Speedway, Indiana as race-fever climbed into the danger zone.

"When you're the fastest guy on Carb Day you can't say your car isn't good," Tony said taunting the media assembled in the Chris Economacki press room afterwards. "I was trying to run in traffic as much as I could. The balance on the car is as good as it gets, but nobody will remember today come Race Day."

Behind Kanaan came Dario Franchitti (223.807 mph) and Michael Andretti (223.575 mph) to complete the speedy AGR triumvirate at the top of the time sheets.

Team Penske's Helio Castroneves was fourth-quick with a speed of 223.527 mph and surprisng Jaques Lazier of Playa Del Racing was there in fifth place at the end of the day with a clocking at 223.468 mph.

Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon was followed by Sam Hornish Jr., Danica Patrick, Luczo Dragon's Ryan Briscoe and Vision's Tomas Schecketer to round out a top ten on the eve of Sunday's 91st Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

The 500 mile race will commence around 1PM EDT on Sunday (May 27th) as the month-long festival of "Spirit and Speed" roars to a whirwind conclusion over the 2.5 mile oval with a crowd now anticipated that will top several hundred thousand people.

The race will be beamed on television via satellite to more than 200 countries and more than 400 million households around the globe, most of them viewing the race live.

Whether it was the men and women of IndyCar on the track, the Freedom 100 undercard, the promise of a day off work to watch Kidd Rock and the Pit-Stop competition, or whatever excuse de jour would fly with the boss or wife, the throb was turned up full-throttle around the old Brickyard today.

The stands were filled in the upper reaches of turn one during practice and the Freedom 100 race that followed, and in the shade along the main straightaway at Indy opposite the pitlane grandstands and terraces that were reaching full capacity by mid-day.

Railbirds along the tops of the Penthouses and Suites gave the huge complex a feel redolent of some of the great speed-intoxicated days of a generation ago.

Throngs of men and women dressed in summer's most comfortable pool-side apparel hugged the sun in the huge Pagoda Plaza and turned the adjacent stage area for the Kidd Rock concert into a wall-to-wall flesh-fest.

The Speedway doesn't give out attendance figures, but one thing at day's end is certain: if the crew on Memorial Day is as hellbent on merriment as the ones who filled in today at the Speedway, the rock 'n' roll conclusion of this month of May will be one for the ages.

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Series INDYCAR