IRL: Indy 500: Chip Ganassi Racing day nine notes

Indianapolis, IN, Wednesday, May 17, 2006- After qualifying was washed out completely by rain last weekend, then postponed to this coming weekend, IndyCar teams finally got back on track on Wednesday for practice for the entire field to prepare...

Indianapolis, IN, Wednesday, May 17, 2006- After qualifying was washed out completely by rain last weekend, then postponed to this coming weekend, IndyCar teams finally got back on track on Wednesday for practice for the entire field to prepare for the Indy 500.

Both Target cars took to the track for practice with full tanks and race set ups, thus the lower lap times on the scoring tower from last week when teams were running qualifying simulations.

Dan Wheldon posted a top five lap time of 222.615 mph with teammate Scott Dixon not too far behind in eighth spot with a lap speed of 222.227 mph.

Scott Dixon #9 Target Honda Dallara --

"It was a bit of a rough start this morning but we improved the race set up of the Target car quite a bit throughout the day. We had a good long run with Dan at the end there and things were looking pretty good. We just need to get in more runs tomorrow because Friday we'll be going back to concentrating on getting the pole."

Dan Wheldon #10 Target Honda Dallara --

"We worked on race set up today. It's the first time this month that we've run our Target cars on full fuel and with race downforce. It's not quite where I'd like it yet. The Target team got enough work in today for a reasonable place to start before we were interrupted by the rain but we got enough data that we'll look through it tonight and by the time we hit the track again tomorrow I'm sure we'll have made significant improvements."

MORE NOTES:

Coming Up This Month - Target Chip Ganassi Racing, along with drivers Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon are preparing for the 90th running of the prestigious Indianapolis 500. Qualifying is set to take place on the 2.5 mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway this Saturday, May 13th (Pole Day) from 12 to 6 pm EDT. Teams will take to the track everyday for practice from 12 noon to 6 pm, weather permitting.

First All IndyCar Practice (Practice 1)-- Scott Dixon and defending race winner Dan Wheldon took to the track aboard their Honda Dallaras for the first time this month in preparation for the famed race. Wheldon posted the third fastest lap time of the day with a speed of 223.916 mph, followed closely by Scott Dixon in fourth spot with a speed of 223.797 mph. Both Target cars were just behind the Penske 1-2 of Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves. A light rain forced the track to close with just over an hour remaining in practice

Day 2 Practice- Driver of the no.10 Target Honda, Dan Wheldon broke the 225 mph barrier and sat atop the scoring tower for most of the day (225.636 mph) until shortly before the rain shortened practice when Sam Hornish Jr. (226.056 mph) topped the speed charts for the second consecutive day. Target teammate Scott Dixon placed eighth with a speed of 223.830 mph.

Day 3 Practice- Start of practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was delayed due to rain. The Target Team took to the track at 2:30 pm and proceeded to improve their cars from the previous day's practice. Dan Wheldon improved to 2nd place with a timed lap speed of 226.088 mph. Scott Dixon set the fourth fastest lap time with a speed of 225.309 mph.

Day 4 Practice- Due to persistent drizzle and cold temperatures at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Target team did not take to the track for Fast Friday, the last day of practice prior to Pole Day. Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon are set to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 on Saturday starting at 12 noon, weather permitting.

Pole Day Qualifying Part I (Saturday)- Another day of rain and cold temperatures delayed Indianapolis 500 qualifying at the Speedway. Competitors hope to return to the track on Sunday for qualifying should mother nature show her brighter side.

Pole Day Qualifying Part II (Sunday)-Intermittent rains forced Pole Day Qualifications for the 90th Indianapolis 500 to be moved to next weekend (Saturday, May 20) at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Teams did get a shortened practice session (2 separate groups) on Sunday afternoon before rain returned and washed out the rest of the day's activities.

Target's Scott Dixon was atop the timing charts with a speed of 227.274 mph as the 1st group got in some track time. Not to be out done, Target teammate Dan Wheldon quickly topped by posting the quickest lap time of the month so far with a 228.663 mph (39.3592 second) lap on his fifth of just eight laps on the 2.5-mile oval.

Celebrity Sightings- Some familiar faces came to check out the action in the Target pits this past week. Indianapolis native Jeanette Lee, billiard's own "Black Widow" took in practice last week. Drag Racing legend, Don "the Snake" Prudhomme accompanied Chip Ganassi to the track for the rained out Pole Day.

"Gentlemen, Start your Honda!"- Both Target cars and each Indianapolis 500 entrant received a new Honda Indy V-8 engine for first day of practice on May 9. Teams must use that engine through practice and qualifying. All qualified cars will receive a new engine for Carb Day for use in the race. IndyCar Series regulars must use the same engine for the event at Watkins Glen.

"It makes it more of a challenge, and you're limited to 1,200 miles on the first motor," says Target Team manager of Race Operations, Barry Wanser. "We did more than that last year with Scott (Dixon), especially when you start doing full-tank running the second week. It will be a challenge to make the most of it. It's the same for everybody, but you have to be careful with your track management and time to get the most out it. The first week is all about getting the pole. You could throw in some full-tank running in the mix of doing qualifying sims. It definitely will be interesting for everybody."

The Big Apple-May 22

* To celebrate the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500, the race's 33 qualified drivers will visit two of New York City's most recognizable institutions. The drivers will start the morning ringing The Opening Bell at the New York Stock Exchange and touring the trading floor.

* Following the NYSE event, the drivers will participate in a unique photo and interview opportunity aboard the Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum. The 33 drivers, in race day uniform, will line up in the traditional Indianapolis 500 starting line up, 11 rows of three, for a photo on the ship's flight deck. Following the photo opportunity, all drivers will be available for interviews during a media luncheon in the Great Hall aboard the aircraft carrier.

Target Store Appearance-May 26 Carb Day

* Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon will be visiting a local Indianapolis Target 38th Street West and I-465) to sign autographs for guests from 6-7 pm on Friday, May 26th.

Team Owner Chip Ganassi on the Indy 500: "This is the Indy 500. I don't know that anybody's ever really put succinctly into words what it means to win here. It means so many things to so many people, it would mean to so many people in our team, in so many different ways. Having experienced that a few times, you know, I'm not sure -- I could sit here and talk for days about it. It means so much personally to every person on our team as well as professionally."

"I can tell you that each and every May there's a certain blossoming of everyone's attitudes here in Indianapolis at our facility looking forward to this event. When you don't do well in this race, or you do well, the emotions the day after on June 1st or whatever are very congruent to your performance here on Memorial Day."

"What would it mean here to win? It would mean a hell of a lot, to put it simply. It would mean a hell of a lot of good for a lot of people. That's what we're here to do. That's why we come here."

Scott Dixon on the Indy 500-- "Obviously it's going to be a big event for us and Team Target. I think it's probably my best opportunity at trying to win this race. Obviously, teamed up with Dan, having the experience of winning it last year I think has helped us all. The package with Honda and Dallara has been a great deal so far. I think the cars have been extremely competitive. I think we haven't really been out of the top five at any chance throughout the first few races. I'm just excited, happy to be back, looking forward to a good race."

"I'd come to the race with Ganassi actually in '02 to watch before running my first Indy 500 in 2003. Sort of witnessed -- lived in the area since 1999, really understood what changes throughout the month. But I think as a driver coming for the first time, no matter where you're from, it's a hell of an experience. It's something that you can't really understand until you do it. I think the biggest thing is when you walk out on race days, down Gasoline Alley, over 400,000 people. It's one of those things that you have to do to really get the gist of it. You try to explain it to people, but you can't. It's just one of those things that sends chills over you. It's a hell of an experience."

Dan Wheldon on the Indy 500-- "I think it's been a strange month with a lot of the rain interrupting. I hope it doesn't dampen fans' spirits because I think it's certainly going to be a very competitive race. I think we've seen that the Penskes this year have in practice and qualifying been extremely fast, but they certainly come back to us in the races. I was asked by Chip, actually, I think it was not yesterday but the day before, if he needed to panic at all because he thought the Penskes might be a chunk quicker than us, he wasn't sure how we were going to fare in qualifying. I told him not to panic."

"I definitely think at Target Chip Ganassi Racing we have a good opportunity to contend for the pole. I don't think we've been as perhaps brave as the Penske people just yet. I do think there's a little bit more to come from our cars. At the same time when you trim the cars for qualifying, you have to make sure you maintain a good mechanical balance in order to maximize the opportunity of getting that speed."

I do believe that we can contend. I think right now it's a Penske kind of Ganassi race for the pole. I think that's not going to be like that in the race. I think there's going to be a lot of people that will come very strong. I'm certainly looking forward to it."

Watch it! -- ABC will be broadcasting the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 race live beginning at noon (EDT) on May 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes.

Listen Up! -- The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network and its affiliates will provide extensive coverage from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway throughout the month of May leading up to and including the 90th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race on Sunday, May 28. More than 400 affiliate IMS Radio Network radio stations located throughout the United States and Canada -- including XM Satellite Radio channel 145 "IndyCar Racing" -- will broadcast live Race Day coverage of the Indianapolis 500 at noon (EDT) May 28 with a pre-race show, followed by the Indianapolis 500 broadcast at 1 p.m.

-cgr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon , Dan Wheldon , Chip Ganassi , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing