IRL: Indy 500: Day four new and notes

HORNISH LEADS RAIN-SHORTENED PRACTICE AT INDY INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, May 10, 2006 -- Marlboro Team Penske driver Sam Hornish Jr. topped the speed charts for the second consecutive day as preparations continued for the 90th running of the ...

HORNISH LEADS RAIN-SHORTENED PRACTICE AT INDY

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, May 10, 2006 -- Marlboro Team Penske driver Sam Hornish Jr. topped the speed charts for the second consecutive day as preparations continued for the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Shortly before practice ended at approximately 3:30 p.m., Hornish, a two-time IndyCar Series champion, posted the day's quickest lap of 39.8131 seconds, 226.056 mph in his No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Dan Wheldon and Super Aguri Fernandez Racing's Kosuke Matsuura also bettered the 225-mph barrier on a day shortened by nearly 90 minutes by rain. Wheldon, the defending Indianapolis 500 champion, was second at 225.636. Matsuura (225.140) was third.

Andretti Green Racing's Tony Kanaan (223.183) and Bryan Herta (222.762), rounded out the top five. Marco Andretti (223.291) was the quickest rookie on the track.

Jeff Simmons was involved in the day's only incident, lightly damaging his No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol Honda-powered Panoz in a single-car spin early in the day.

Twenty-three drivers completed 952 laps.

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POST-PRACTICE NOTES:

On this date in 1975, A.J. Foyt puts his Coyote/Foyt on the pole for the 59th Indianapolis 500 at a speed of 193.976. Bobby Unser broke up the much anticipated all-red front row of A.J. Foyt, Gordon Johncock, and Wally Dallenbach when he qualified third at 191.073 mph.

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In celebration of the 90th Running of the Indianapolis 500, various personalities associated with the "Greatest Spectacle of Racing" will give their favorite 500 memories. Here's today's memory. DENNIS REINBOLD (Co-owner, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "My dad took me to the race in 1970. Al Unser won the race in the Johnny Lightning car and I remember getting my first glimpse of the car going by in Turn 1 near the snake pit area. At the time, I was too young to know what was going on there. We walked around the infield and I had a little spot in the fence where I could sneak my head in and watch them go by. That still sticks out, and I'll never forget hanging on the fence and looking out there at the track when I was a little kid."

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Did you know?: The Indianapolis 500 has had winners from 20 states and 9 countries. The state with the most Indianapolis 500 victories is Indiana with seven (7).

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Ethanol will present $2,500 to the driver who records the fastest lap on five practice days during the Month of May. The "Ethanol Fastest Lap" will be presented on May 10, 11, 17, 18 and 26. In addition to the ethanol awards, Cholula Hot Sauce will award $7,500 to the driver who completes the Fastest Lap of the Day on May 12 and May 19.

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Sam Schmidt Motorsports and four-time Indianapolis 500 competitor Airton Dare are returning to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to compete together in the 2006 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. Dare, a 28-year-old native of Bauru, Brazil, will drive the No. 88 OCTANE Motors/Sanitec/SSM Panoz/Honda/Firestone for Sam Schmidt Motorsports.

SAM SCHMIDT (Owner, Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "We're thrilled to be able to put this deal together and return to the Indianapolis 500. Sixty days ago, we didn't think we had a shot, but once again we've been able to pull things together. We feel very fortunate to have a driver of Airton's caliber. Not only has he won an IndyCar Series race in the past, but he's also had a top-10 finish here at Indianapolis. We've got a lot of work ahead of us, but we're looking forward to it."

AIRTON DARE (No. 88 OCTANE Motors/Sanitec/SSM Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "For me, it's a dream come true to be back. When I had that accident in 2003 driving A.J. Foyt's car and I went back to Brazil to drive stock cars, I thought I'd never come back here. I went to the Homestead (IndyCar Series) race this year to see some guys, and then we started to try to put together a deal to come to Indy, and with everybody having the same (Honda) motors that was a plus for us, it makes it more interesting."

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Today is Helio Castroneves' 31st birthday. Castroneves is one of three drivers celebrating birthdays in the Month of May. Andretti Green Racing's Dario Franchitti turns 33 on May 19th. His teammate Bryan Herta turns 36 on May 23.

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Indy Pro Series driver Mishael Abbott, who is scheduled to compete in the Freedom 100 on May 26, will pull "double-duty" this Month of May. In addition to her driving duties with Michael Crawford Motorsports, Abbott also will serve as a spotter for Playa Del Racing driver Jaques Lazier for the second consecutive Indianapolis 500.

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Jeanette Lee, a professional billiards player known as "The Black Widow," played a match against two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves. Lee, who formerly ranked No. 1 in the world and has won 17 Women's Professional Billiards Association titles, is an Indianapolis resident. She also waved the green flag to start today's practice.

JEANETTE LEE: (About being the honorary starter): "It was real exciting, having the aluminum platform underneath me shaking and trembling every time a car went by. It was an exciting feeling and quite an honor to be asked to do it. I'm loving it, I'm loving being out here with all of this." (About playing Helio Castroneves): "I loved playing Helio. He has such a positive way about him. He is very free-spirited and always ready to take on a new challenge, so I gave him a challenge."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone): (About match with Jeanette Lee): "It was an honor to play pool with one of the best players in the world this morning. I was way out of my league! On her first shot, she sunk three balls, so I knew I was in trouble. Jeanette is an amazing player, and I couldn't believe how easy she made those tough shots look. I'm not the best pool player in the world, and the pointers she gave me while playing were most appreciated. I had a lot of fun, and of course, the highlight of our meeting was that she led everyone in a chorus of "Happy Birthday" for me. She also signed one of her gloves and a cue ball and gave them to me as a birthday present."

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2:55 p.m. -- #6 Hornish records lap of 226.056 mph, fastest of the day and the Month of May.

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Indy Pro Series drivers Mishael Abbott and Geoff Dodge are providing reports from the Indianapolis 500 each Wednesday throughout the month of May to newspapers where they have connections. Abbott, who will drive the No. 8 Michael Crawford Motorsports entry in the Freedom 100, is reporting back to the Boca Raton (Fla.) News. Abbott is originally from Coral Springs, Fla. Dodge will be providing firsthand reports to the Des Moines (Iowa) Register. Dodge hails from Colorado Springs, Colo., but earned his Indy Pro Series ride by being the highest-finishing eligible rookie at last year's Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals. Dodge drives the No. 33 Brian Stewart Racing entry.

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A total of 35 cars are at the Speedway. Thirty-one have passed technical inspection. Twenty-nine drivers have been on the track to date and turned 952 laps today and 2,595 laps this month. A total of 75 drivers have passed physical examinations at the Clarian Medical Center. There were six cautions today for a total of 1 hour, 53 minutes.

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POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fastest driver of the day): "We got a lot more running in today than we thought we were going to be able to. We thought that it would probably start raining right about the time we took the track. And it was kind of nice actually when we went out. It was warmer, a little less overcast, so we got a little bit of time with it that way. And then, it cooled off quite a bit, became more overcast, and the wind picked up a little bit, so we got a little bit of testing in two different kind of conditions today. That's really what you want to do, because when it comes time for Saturday, we don't know exactly what the temperature will be or the weather conditions. The more times you get the opportunity to get out in different conditions, the better off you're going to be." (About whether or not he had a tow) "It's hard to tell. We were trying to go out and do four timed laps consecutively. A car came out of the pits on the last of the timed laps in front of us. We got a little bit of a tow down the back straightaway, but I think our second-best lap was still good enough to put us here anyway. We're real happy about where we're at so far. Most everybody out there, I tried to watch when I wasn't in the car where people were compared to what their times were, and it looked like a lot of people got tows today. Yesterday, it seemed like everybody was kind of by themselves. Today, a lot of people were running together, closer, and getting more tows. It was a little bit different than yesterday." (About his emotions on being fastest two days in a row) "It's pretty exciting, but we know that nothing really matters until race day, so we're going to try to continue to go through the paces and not cross up our feet and fall down on our faces. We'll keep working on it and hope that Saturday is good for us."

DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, second-fastest driver): "Obviously, we were expecting the rain, so we had to utilize the track time that we had as best as we possibly could. I definitely think that we improved the race car. The rear end feels much more secure, which is good, and the car is comfortable. We're still just working for a little bit more speed. I think we'll see how good this team is in a situation like this. There's a lot of stuff you can do with the data we've got. We should be able to utilize it and make some changes. I think Penske is perhaps a little better prepared than us right now, which is because we've got the Dallaras and we're here for the first time, it's taking a little bit of time to catch them. In qualifying trim, I think they're a little better than us right now, but we'll keep working to try to catch them."

KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone, third-fastest driver): "We struggled a little bit yesterday, but found the right direction today. Yesterday, the car was inconsistent, but I am very confident to drive the car now. The last outing was really good. I was able to go flat out for 25 laps on very old tires. We found the right direction, and we will keep building from here and start working on our qualifying simulations."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fourth-fastest driver): "We made progress today regarding speed, but we're still looking to make the Team 7-Eleven car more comfortable. The car is becoming a bit less stable. I would love to be better than we are right now, but that's the way it is. We've got to work our way through it as a team and that's what we'll do."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, sixth-fastest driver): "The run, it was good, we were expecting a little bit more, but this is Indianapolis. Sometimes you're gonna go fast, sometimes you're gonna go slow, depending on the wind, the traffic. It's so mixed, so right now we're just trying to make sure we're comfortable.

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Honda/Firestone, seventh-fastest driver): "It was good. We continue to work a way. For our team, being so new to the Dallara chassis, we'll really take as much practice as we can get to learn the nuances of the car compared to the Panoz we ran in the past. We really haven't gotten into the qualifying mode yet. We're continuing to just work on our base package so we're pretty pleased with the results so far, and we'll see what happens next. Everyone I think is trying to get the cars as good as they can. We just don't have that much track record with the Dallara. We're in a good progress right now with a really solid race car right now."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, eighth-fastest driver): "We had a pretty productive day and definitely made some improvements. We spent a little too much time on old tires at the start and got a little lost. By the time we got back out on new tires, the track wasn't quite as fast. We did a lot of running on our own so we didn't get the tow the others had to post their fastest time. I'm reasonably happy with what we were able to accomplish before the rain came."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 2 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, 11th-fastest driver): "Today was good because we were able to try some different things and share more information. Each day we keep getting better and learning more about the car, so I expect to keep improving the rest of the week and be prepared for qualifying on Saturday."

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The 2006 IRL IndyCar Series continues with the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 at 1 p.m. (EDT) on May 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. ABC will broadcast the race live beginning at noon (EDT). A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes. Live coverage on the IMS Radio Network begins at noon (EDT). The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 145 "IndyCar Racing" and www.indycar.com. The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Freedom 100 at 12:30 p.m. on May 26 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast as part of ESPN2's Carb Day coverage on May 26. Live coverage on the IMS Radio Network begins at 12:15 p.m. (EDT).

-irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Wally Dallenbach , Airton Daré , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Sam Schmidt , Bobby Unser , Mishael Abbott , Marco Andretti , Kosuke Matsuura , Jeff Simmons , Chip Ganassi , Gordon Johncock , Geoff Dodge , A.J. Foyt , Al Unser , Jaques Lazier
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing