IRL: Matsuura king of day three at Indy

IRL: Matsuura king of day three at Indy

While Toyota teams held the top slots for the first two days of practice for the 88th Indianapolis 500 mile race, the Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series' Honda contingent took over for day three, holding six of the top ten slots once the seven ...

While Toyota teams held the top slots for the first two days of practice for the 88th Indianapolis 500 mile race, the Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series' Honda contingent took over for day three, holding six of the top ten slots once the seven hours of practice were completed.

Adrian Fernandez and Kosuke Matsuura.
Photo by Ron McQueeney - IRL.
Bombardier Rookie of the Year leader Kosuke Matsuura was the fastest driver of the day, logging a lap of 221.857mph on his 53rd of 55 total laps in the #55 Panasonic/ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda.

Matsuura, who earned his best IndyCar series finish of eighth last month in what he considers the second most important race of the year - the Twin Ring Motegi, admitted he had a good tow to achieve his speed but also said, "I could easily do 221 alone. I could have made a better lap after that but it was not necessary," he remarked.

Teammate Adrian Fernandez was second in the #5 Quaker State/Telmex Panoz G Force/Honda after becoming the first driver to break the 221mph level at 1:30PM this afternoon. Fernandez' lap of 221.705mph on his 33rd of 61 laps caused many in the paddock to sit up and take notice.

Tony Kanaan logged a total of 25 laps and took third place at 220.855mph in the 311 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda, followed by yesterday's fastest driver Helio Castroneves, who turned 219.937mph early in the going on his 20th of 79 total laps in the #3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota.

Bryan Herta's lap of 219.909mph in the #7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda midway through the warm, sunny afternoon gave the American veteran fifth place bragging rights for the day. Sam Hornish Jr. took laps in both his primary and backup #6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota racers and was sixth in the primary (219.810mph) and the absolute caboose of the day in his T car, which Hornish drove for a scant five laps.

"It was our first real day of testing," said Buddy Rice after bringing his #15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz G Force/Honda to seventh place for the afternoon with a tour of the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval of 219.780mph.. "The car felt really solid and I think we are happy with our program right now."

Dan Wheldon.
Photo by Jim Haines - IRL.
Dan Wheldon had another consistent day in his #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda and ended up eighth with a lap of 219.616mph. South African Tomas Scheckter continued to work with the #4T Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet, taking ninth place at 219.172mph.

2003 IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon logged only 18 laps in his #1 Team Target Panoz G Force/Toyota and the penultimate tour of 219.047mph gave him tenth place for the day. The top ten in speeds today are also the fastest ten for the three-day period.

On a cooler, less humid afternoon, speeds were bound to go up, but as they did, so did the incidents. Just an hour and a half into the practice session, rookie Marty Roth spun in Turn 1 but made no contact with his #25 Roth Racing Dallara/Toyota.

Roth's difficulty was one of only two driver-induced troubles, the final for Felipe Giaffone, who connected his #24T Purex/Aventis Dallara/Chevrolet with the wall area between Turns 3 and 4, but then made hard secondary contact with the SAFER barrier at Turn 4. The Brazilian rode around the wall with the right front impacted and stopped at the entrance to pit lane. He was fine, but the Dreyer & Reinbold team have a great deal of work to do on that backup machine, but Giaffone was 20th in his primary machine.

Robby Gordon left for Charlotte and his NASCAR obligations this afternoon around 2PM but will be back for Wednesday practice, before returning to North Carolina until Saturday morning and qualifying for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

There were a total of 1711 laps turned by 31 car/driver combinations today and the expected rain showers were nowhere in the general vicinity. As lap times keep getting quicker, the tension appears to be mounting.

Still to be seen is the car of Greg Ray, and while Beck Motorsports have moved into the intended garage area, no driver has yet been named.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Robby Gordon , Greg Ray , Felipe Giaffone , Helio Castroneves , Adrian Fernandez , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Marty Roth , Kosuke Matsuura , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske