IRL: Mid-Ohio: Series Friday practice notes

ANDRETTI GREEN TEAMMATES LEAD FIRST DAY AT MID-OHIO LEXINGTON, Ohio, Friday, July 20, 2007 -- Andretti Green Racing teammates Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan paced the opening day of preparations for the inaugural Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio...

ANDRETTI GREEN TEAMMATES LEAD FIRST DAY AT MID-OHIO

LEXINGTON, Ohio, Friday, July 20, 2007 -- Andretti Green Racing teammates Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan paced the opening day of preparations for the inaugural Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car course.

Franchitti, a two-time pole winner on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn circuit as a driver in CART, recorded a fastest lap of 1 minute, 7.3629 seconds, 120.672 mph in the No. 27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Kanaan was second fastest with a lap of 1:07.5476, 120.342 mph in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven car.

Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves, a two-time winner at the track, and Sam Hornish Jr., were third and fourth, respectively. Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon, who is attempting to tie a series record with his third straight victory, was fifth.

Rounding out the top 10 were Marco Andretti, Vitor Meira, Danica Patrick, Darren Manning and Buddy Rice.

Single-lap qualifying followed by the Firestone Fast Six rally session are scheduled for Saturday.

DAY 1 NOTEBOOK:

Five Indianapolis 500 champions are expected to participate in the Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance: Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002), Buddy Rice (2004), Dan Wheldon (2005), Sam Hornish Jr. (2006) and Dario Franchitti (2007).

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Five IndyCar Series champions are scheduled to participate in the Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance: Scott Sharp (1996 co-champion), Sam Hornish Jr. (2001, 2002, 2006), Scott Dixon (2003), Tony Kanaan (2004) and Dan Wheldon (2005).

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Drivers entered in the Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance have combined for 83 IndyCar Series victories, 79 IndyCar Series pole positions and 1,221 IndyCar Series starts.

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The Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance is the third of five road/street course races in the 2007 season. Other events in 2007 that have taken place on road and street courses include the April 1 event on the Streets of St. Petersburg won by Helio Castroneves and the July 8 event at Watkins Glen International won by Scott Dixon. The IndyCar Series will also race at the permanent road course at Infineon Raceway (Aug. 26) and the temporary street course at the Raceway at Belle Isle (Sept. 2).

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Selected quotes from Ryan Hunter-Reay's media availability:

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It's been a crazy couple of days. It was a late-minute deal. I understand the team is in an awkward position with it. I'm thrilled about it. I look to take the opportunity to run with it. I had been talking to Bobby (Rahal) and Scott (Roembke) since the end of the 2003 season, and we've gotten close to a couple of deals here and there. We've always been in contact and it's always been a good relationship. I was talking to (Rahal) at the beginning of the season." (About his immediate work): "I had been racing the (Grand Am) Rolex Series. We have a lot of work to do. I want to learn from all the experience on this team, which is one thing I've never had to learn from. My teammate in '03 was Jimmy Vassar, who drove for this team, but since then I haven't had a lot of experience to draw from. I can learn a lot and gradually make progress." (About expectations): "The biggest thing for me is making progress, mostly on the ovals. I've had great success on ovals in the past, but this is a new situation that I have to treat with respect and I have to go out and learn everything I can. I haven't been in one of these cars in two years and we were a couple of tenths out of the top 10 (in first session). When it comes to Mid-Ohio and racing Indy cars, this is what it's all about. I'm so happy to come back."

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HONDA INDY 200 POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fastest in practice): "We started off this morning with a very similar car to the one we tested here (in June). I don't think the words undriveable are too strong. It wasn't very good. We had a lot of work to do and the track changed a lot as we put rubber down. We made some changes on the car and now we're pretty happy. We made changes that went along as the track seemed to pick up a lot of grip and I think will continue to do so all weekend, which as Tony (Kanaan) just said, its going to be physically a very, very tough race."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, second-fastest): "It was OK. We had a pretty good morning session. We made a couple of changes in the car in the afternoon, and we improved, but we couldn't improve the lap time. The team is doing OK. Dario (Franchitti) and myself are pretty strong right now, so we're definitely looking good for tomorrow."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, third-fastest): "Obviously we'd like to be a little faster today, but we're happy with being in the top-three for now. The Team Penske car isn't quite dialed in yet, but I think with a little more work tomorrow morning we should be good to go for qualifying."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fourth-fastest): "On the whole, we're pretty happy with what we accomplished today. We weren't really happy with the setup of the Team Penske car during the morning session, but we feel much better about it following our afternoon run. It seems that everyone is trying to push their cars as much as possible to see what kind of speed they have, but we haven't been working too much on that. We've been focusing a lot on our race setup. The key to this race is going to be track position, so we've trying to get the car to handle well through the corners in order to minimize tire wear. We'll just come back out tomorrow and work on fine tuning things a bit with the goal of making into the top six."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone, eighth fastest): "Today is definitely the best start to a road course weekend that we've had. I said coming into the weekend that how you start the weekend is really representative of the rest of it. We came out of the box well. My engineer (Martin Pare) set me up with a good car that was easy to push. I feel like the whole weekend is now about fine-tuning than it is about a 'where do we go from here' kind of thing. I think everybody on Team Motorola is doing a good job."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone, 13-fastest): "It was a good first day for the Ethanol car. Having never driven an Indy Car (Series car) until today and being just a couple tenths out of the top 10 is pretty decent. We have a lot of info from today that we need to go over tonight, we'll make some changes and see what we can come up with for tomorrow's qualifying."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 NYSE Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone, sixth-fastest): "It was a pretty good day for the NYSE boys today. We were trying different things and between the four AGR cars, I think we've found something that is going to make us all very competitive. Our goal tomorrow is to get into the Firestone Fast Six and anything can happen from there."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fifth-fastest): "The day started out all right. The first session, we had a little bit of understeer. The second session was bit of a nightmare. We didn't improve the car whatsoever. We didn't really make any changes to improve it, which I think was a waste. When we did make our sticker run, I wanted to run more laps, but the radio wasn't working, I don't know how much fuel I had on board. All in all, the second session was terrible. The first session was OK. I still think we have enough speed to be in the top-six." (About chances to win third-straight race at Mid-Ohio): "We haven't given up hope of trying to (win). It's nice coming to a road course with a chance to win a third-straight race. It's going to be tough. The AGR guys are running good. There are four of them in the top nine. It's going to be a tough between those guys. All we can do is try to go as fast as we can tomorrow, and if we're not on pole, try to go around them on Sunday."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 4 Panther Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, seventh-fastest): "I'm happy with today. From the first practice to the second practice we made improvements to the car, and I improved myself, too. That's what you want, to go out every session and get better and better. If we keep improving like we are, the Delphi car is going to be in front come race time."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, ninth-fastest): "We were fast all morning long, and then we had a problem with the gearbox, which forced us to miss the last 20 minutes of the session. That kept us out of the group we need to be in. It makes a lot of difference being in that group. It will hinder us in qualifying. Our car is still being pretty quick and the road course setup is quite consistent. It's disappointing that a self-inflicted wound kept us out of the fast group."

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SATURDAY'S SCHEDULE:
9 -- 10 a.m. IndyCar Series practice #3 (two groups)
11:50 a.m. -- 1:20 p.m. IndyCar Series AAMCO Transmissions Pole Qualifying (single-car, single lap followed by Firestone Fast Six shootout)

NOTE: Schedule subject to change.

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The next IndyCar Series event is the Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance at 1:30 p.m. on July 22 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The race will be televised live by ABC and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The next Indy Pro Series event is the Mid-Ohio 100 on July 22 at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course. The race will be telecast at 5:30 p.m. on July 26. ESPN2's coverage of the Sunbelt Rentals 100 will be televised by ESPN2 at 5 p.m. on July 18.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Buddy Rice , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing