HORNISH FOURTH IN RAIN-SHORTENED FAST FRIDAY BEFORE INDY POLE DAY
- For the second consecutive day, two-time IRL champion Sam Hornish Jr. was the fastest Toyota-powered driver in placing fourth overall in the final day of practice before Saturday's Pole Day qualifying for the 89th Indianapolis 500. Hornish registered a lap of more than 226.7 mph. Unfortunately, just after running his fast lap, he ran over debris from fellow Toyota pilot Paul Dana's crash and went airborne resulting in significant damage to his #6T Marlboro Toyota Dallara. Hornish wasn't injured in the crash, but Dana was transported to Methodist Hospital where he was listed in good condition after sustaining a spinal fracture and concussion.
- Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Toyota) made it two Toyota-powered cars in the top six today as he placed sixth on the day. It marks the second time in four days that Castroneves has placed in the top six after a third on the first full day of practice on Tuesday.
- Rains moved in shortly after Dana's practice crash and the track never went back to green resulting in approximately four valuable hours lost today. Toyota-powered drivers registered just 202 laps today after running a week-long high of 770 laps on Thursday.
SCOTT DIXON, #9 Target Toyota: "It's been a productive week and the atmosphere has been more fun too. I think because there seems to be a lot more people this year probably because they are more excited with format in general. It will certainly make this weekend more intense. Hard to tell where we were at today as we found ourselves chasing the track a bit. We did make some really good gains this week, and the car is really decent. All three of the Target cars are pretty even so we do expect to make the top 11 in qualifying tomorrow. I think we'll see the top speed in the mid-227 mph range."
HELIO CASTRONEVES, #3 Marlboro Toyota: "Our time was improving, and we were looking forward to continue working on our qualifying setup this afternoon. It is too bad the rain shortened the day. Hopefully tomorrow the weather will be clear and we will be able to put the Marlboro Team Penske car in the show."
LARRY FOYT, #48 A.J. Foyt Racing Toyota: "We're going in the right direction, but we were pretty far off on the setup when we started. We're gaining on it, and we have a long way to go but the good thing is that all the changes were the right changes."
DARREN MANNING, #10 Target Toyota: "Well the weather buggered us a bit today as I was hoping to run later in the afternoon. Losing the #10T Target Toyota back-up car in the accident on Thursday was a small setback, but we've gotten a lot of good work done and we're looking forward to qualifying. With the new format it certainly will make things interesting for all involved."
RYAN BRISCOE, #33 Target Toyota: "It's been a really good week. You can really feel the build up this week. It's been fun to get to know the history of this place, meet some of the interesting characters and fans and hear the stories associated with this race. On track, the Target team has done a lot of work fine tuning the car for qualifying. I feel really confident with the car. I got to test it in all kinds of different conditions; hot, cool, wind coming at various directions and intensities. I certainly learned a lot, and it's great to get all the time to test on the oval. I feel like I have a lot of the tools now to be much more comfortable out there. Working with Arie Luyendyk has given me lots of valuable information and has had the effect of keeping everyone on the crew a little more relaxed. The only expectations I have for qualifying is to exercise patience while waiting to qualifying, and maybe re-qualify, and then on track be smooth and fast. I'm confident that Toyota will provide us with a good engine so we just have to go out there and get the job done."
ALEX BARRON, #51 Red Bull Toyota: "We got out there early and got some quality laps in. I felt like we were heading in the right direction, but we weren't able to really tell because of the rain. We're going to make some additional adjustments to the car tonight so we're ready for qualifying tomorrow."
PATRICK CARPENTIER, #83 Red Bull Toyota: "It was a difficult day because we weren't able to determine whether the adjustments we made have us going in the right direction. We're just going to have to get the cars ready for qualifications, and hope the work we've been doing pays off."
SAM HORNISH JR., #6 Marlboro Toyota: I came around the corner there, saw the yellow, I was on the brakes, trying to slow down. One of the half-shafts came out of Paul's (Dana) car and was cart-wheeling down the track. I thought, 'That's going to hurt a lot worse if I hit that,' because you clip the bottom of that you don't know which direction it's going to go. It's a long piece of steel rod that's going to come back into the cockpit, so I thought I'll go over there and as soon as I look over I thought, 'Well, I'd better center that (piece of debris), whatever it is, and I hit it. I thought, 'That's going to tear up the bottom of the car,' and I hit it, but I hit it hard enough that it shook my head so I was looking down, and I thought, 'That's going to hurt the car.' Then I looked up and all I could see was the fence, so then I was like, 'Maybe the car's not that big of a deal right now.' Definitely the wildest ride that I can say I've ever taken in one of these cars, but probably the least amount of injury you can have, too."