KANAAN UPS FASTEST LAP AT INDIANAPOLIS; ACCIDENT SIDELINES DEFENDING CHAMPION RICE INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, May 11, 2005 -- Defending IRL IndyCarÂ® Series champion Tony Kanaan posted the fastest lap to date as teams continued preparations for...
KANAAN UPS FASTEST LAP AT INDIANAPOLIS; ACCIDENT SIDELINES DEFENDING CHAMPION RICE
INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, May 11, 2005 -- Defending IRL IndyCar® Series champion Tony Kanaan posted the fastest lap to date as teams continued preparations for the 89th Indianapolis 500.
Kanaan, driving the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, lapped the 2.5-mile oval in 39.5686 seconds, 227.453 mph.
Rookie Danica Patrick was second fastest in the No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone with a lap of 39.6573 seconds, 226.944 mph.
Scott Dixon, whose Target Chip Ganassi Racing team switched from a Dallara to a Panoz chassis, was third with a lap of 39.6797 seconds, 226.816 mph.
Defending Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice sustained a back contusion and a concussion in an accident early in the day. Rice's status will be determined next week, knocking him out of MBNA Pole Qualifying and second-day qualifications this weekend.
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It was a big tow. I've got to thank the Newman Haas boys, Bruno (Junqueira) and Sebastien (Bourdais). They were doing a long run, and I came out of the pits at I guess the right or the wrong time. I was trying to get around by myself to feel the car, but they towed me around, so it was a good lap." (About the expected pole speed): "Dan (Wheldon) told you guys yesterday how fast his car was, and I won't do that. I don't know. I think we could see high 225s, low 226s, but I'm always wrong on that stuff, so I won't follow my predictions." (About the re-paved surface): "I think we can feel the grooves a lot more. They did a great job. I haven't driven without the grooves when they came here and tested. It looks like there's a lot of grip out there. We've just got to make the race line a little wider. It looks pretty slippery to go two wide." (Are you trimmed out completely?): "Not yet. We have a lot to go. We're working on it, everybody is. We'll see.
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I'm focused on the race setup. Tony's working on the qualifying setup. I think he got a pretty good tow there, but each of us is getting a little bit closer to where we need to be.We're working on those different things, but we're each getting happier on each run. I think it's such a strange track, the weather affects it and the wind affects it. It's a big challenge."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "This was another strong day for the Delphi Fernandez team. We made some big changes -- changes that will really work for the whole month, for the race and qualifying as well. All the big times are coming in tows, but nevertheless we are posting some solid times on our own. It was a good day of progress. We have a lot more running to do, and we'll just keep chipping away at it."
RICHIE HEARN (No. 70 Meijer/Coca-Cola Racing Special Panoz/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "The track has a lot of grip. The track is really good and very fast. I think it will help make the field tighter and make qualifying more exciting. It's a fast track and speeds should be good on Saturday."
DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We did some long runs today and tried to get a feel for what the car is doing, and we had full fuel in it and it's OK. There are still some things we need to work on, but from my standpoint, it was a good baseline." (About his status as a pre-race favorite): "I wouldn't say that. The series is way too competitive to ever think we are going to do that, but I'd love to try to win for sure. It is a very difficult series to be part of, and the Indianapolis 500 this year is going to be fantastic."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We're OK. We have been doing mostly race stuff, and just at the end, we tried a little qualifying stuff. I think a lot of these cars have been working all day on qualifying stuff. But we've got no problems. We are in no rush, and we are just slowly getting into it. (Could you maybe turn your bad luck around?): "I just pray and you know what, if I don't get another result all year I won't mind as long as I get a good result here. It would be great for the whole team and everybody here. I've had good runs here and good cars, and it looks like I've got a good one again this year."
BUDDY LAZIER (No. 95 Panther/Jonathan Byrd's/ESPN 950 AM Dallara/ Chevrolet/Firestone): "The day went really good. The car was awesome, and I have a great engineer in Andy Brown. We did a lot of running during the hot part of the day, and we're just getting information right now to make it go as good as it will go. It just really feels good. I got a lot of laps, and I'm just trying to get back up to speed. I feel really good. We ran a lot of laps in the heat of the day, and the car was just smoking. It's good to be back with a great car and a great team."
KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "After our first run, I had the quickest time and the car was quite good. On my second run, I was behind Buddy Rice and he spun just in front of me in Turn 2. I almost crashed. I had damage to my car from his debris, and it took a long time to fix these problems, and we were not able to get back out. My teammate, Scott Sharp, was trying our new setup and things are looking good. For tomorrow, I think we can have all three of our cars in the top five."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (No. 83 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone): "We're struggling with some handling issues. The car is just not responding the way we would like it to with the changes that we're making. We're making some major changes, which is why we didn't go back out after running early in practice. Hopefully, we'll turn the corner tomorrow."
BOBBY RAHAL (Co-owner, Rahal Letterman Racing): (About status of Buddy Rice): "He's very sore but nothing is broken thankfully. They will not allow him to qualify this weekend, which I know he's very disappointed with. We think he'll be ready to go on Wednesday. It just seems odd where it happened. It seemed to be very early in the corner. We looked at the car and couldn't see anything that would indicate any kind of failure. Unfortunately, the video wasn't very good and the guys following him didn't see anything."
ALEX BARRON (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We went out in the morning with all of the changes we made overnight, and we were heading in the right direction, but then the track got hot. Then we lost something where we had to replace the engine. We made some big changes and went back out, and we were heading in the right direction, but then it started to rain."
ADRIÁN FERNÁNDEZ (No. 5 Investment Properties of America Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "Today was really our first day of running. We had some problems with the seat yesterday. In general, it felt fine but I don't feel very comfortable with the car. We struggled a little bit in the morning and the car is still not quite there. This was our first day so it was a good start. We have to regroup, check all of our settings and see what Scott and Kosuke did to get ready for tomorrow. I am pretty confident for the weekend." (About returning to the IndyCar Series): "It feels really good to be back. I haven't driven [an IndyCar Series car] since the last test we had in Homestead (in December), but everything came back quick and it feels good to be back in the driver's seat again."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We tried some different things with the Marlboro Team Penske car, and unfortunately they didn't work. We spent a bit more time in the garage than on the track, but the good news is we learned quite a bit and know what we need to do tomorrow."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I think we had a good day and I'm satisfied with how the Marlboro Team Penske car is handling. We worked on our own this afternoon and tried to find some speed without the draft. I'm looking forward to qualifying so we know how we truly stack up against the rest of the competition and what we'll be up against come race day."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Menards Johns Manville): "Overall, the car felt good, but to be honest, I'm more concerned about my friend Buddy (Rice). We have become good friends, and he is my teammate. No one likes to see a hit like that one. But you get more concerned when it is a friend. I'm very glad that it was not serious. But of course, anything at that speed can be serious. I'll be glad to see him at the track (Thursday). Danica, through, had a great lap today. We are moving right now as we had planned with our qualifying program. Of course, Buddy's accident hurts us a little, but our engineering staff is very good with examining all of the items that we need to test. We'll be ready again on Thursday and progress towards Saturday's qualifying."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "That was a big tow today for that kind of lap (226.944 mph), but our car felt very good all day, and I think Vitor (Meira's) car was good as well. We worked on a lot of different things today, and we are moving through our Indy 500 program. This team won this race last year, and they know the proper ways of working through all of the plans leading up to qualifying. We all are feeling for Buddy (Rice) right now. That was a tough, hard hit. I had a concussion earlier this year at Homestead. It isn't fun, but I'm sure that he will be sore. I expect him to be back at the track soon, and he'll help us get ready for this weekend. I am in a learning process still, and we'll continue to work on many things for Thursday."
The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the 89th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 29 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast by ABC at 1 p.m. (EDT) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The race also will be available on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 "XM Extreme." The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Futaba Freedom 100 on May 27 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast by ESPN2 at 2 p.m. (EDT) on May 27.