IRL: Indy 500: Day four practice report

Brack fastest at 231 during wet practice at Indy INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, May 7, 2003 -- 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner Kenny Brack knows the ways of the month of May at Indy: Start slowly, stick to your program and build to a peak. 1998 IRL ...

Brack fastest at 231 during wet practice at Indy

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, May 7, 2003 -- 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner Kenny Brack knows the ways of the month of May at Indy: Start slowly, stick to your program and build to a peak.

1998 IRL IndyCarTM Series champion Brack climbed closer to the speed summit May 7 by turning the fastest speed of a rain-interrupted practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His top lap was 38.9544 seconds, 231.039 mph in the No. 15 Rahal/Letterman/Miller Lite/Pioneer Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

That lap was the second-best speed of the month, topped only by Dan Wheldon's 231.108 Tuesday in the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

"It's too early to say what today really means, but we are very happy to be competitive today," Brack said. "I say thanks to Team Rahal and Honda and everybody for pushing forward and giving me the stuff we need to be fast.

"It's going to be tough with the competition here, so we're not taking anything for granted. We're just going to go through our test program and find a little more speed."

Practice for the 87th Indianapolis 500 continues from noon-7 p.m. (EDT) Thursday in preparation for Pole Day on Saturday. The 87th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 25.

1996 IndyCar Series co-champion Scott Sharp, fastest on Opening Day, was second today at 39.1118, 230.110 in the No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone.

Gil de Ferran was third at 39.1501, 229.884 in the No. 6T Marlboro Team Penske Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone as the team continues to test both the Dallara and Panoz G Force chassis for de Ferran and teammate Helio Castroneves, who is aiming for an unprecedented third straight victory this year at Indy. De Ferran has been in the top five each of the last three days in the Panoz G Force.

1999 IndyCar Series champion Greg Ray was a new name in the top five on the charts, ending up fourth at 39.2091, 229.539 in the No. 13 TrimSpa Special Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone.

Tony Kanaan rounded out the top five at 39.2234, 229.455 in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

Ray, who won the MBNA Pole at the 2000 Indianapolis 500, made the biggest leap today. His previous best lap was 39.6876, 226.771 on Tuesday, good for only 24th overall for the event.

But Ray's new team, Access Motorsports, is jelling quickly as it prepares for only its second start ever in the IndyCar Series. The small team, co-owned by Ray, was formed in time for a debut in the Indy Japan 300 on April 13 at Motegi, Japan.

"We didn't get any track time on Sunday and have had some mechanical and chassis issues in the last two days, and really just the team getting comfortable and I'm getting comfortable, and we're just scratching the surface here," Ray said. "We've been looking for a little rhythm.

"Being a small team, and until we land a major sponsorship, we can't afford to get out there and take the big risks in a hurry, so we're just scratching the surface and knocking on the door. Like I said all along, I have a great deal of belief in the people on this team, and we just need a little time and resources, and I think we'll surprise a lot of people."

Open-wheel veteran Bryan Herta turned his first laps at Indianapolis since the 1995 Indianapolis 500 today. He practiced in the No. 27T Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone that Robby Gordon will drive in the Indianapolis 500, recording a top lap of 39.9326, 225.380.

Herta will substitute for the injured Dario Franchitti in the car at the IndyCar Series events June 7 at Texas Motor Speedway and June 15 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. He also is on standby to drive the car at Indy if any weather delays force Gordon to leave for Charlotte, N.C., for his full-time drive in the NASCAR Winston Cup Coca-Cola 600 on May 25.

Practice was interrupted twice by rain this afternoon for a total of one hour, 43 minutes. But the session still was busy, with 32 cars turning a total of 1,524 incident-free laps.

A limited number of reserved-seat Race Day tickets for the Indianapolis 500 remain available. General admission and reserved tickets for practice, qualifications and Race Day can be purchased on the World Wide Web via www.imstix.com or by calling the IMS Ticket Office at (800) 822-INDY or (317) 492-6700.

-ims-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Greg Ray , Scott Sharp , Gil de Ferran , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Kenny Brack , Dan Wheldon , Jim Beam