Kanaan quickest in Motegi practice

Tony Kanaan topped the speed charts on the first day of practice for Saturday's Indy Japan 300 on the 1.52-mile Twin Ring Motegi. Kanaan (200.842 mph) and three others averaged more than 200 mph around 1.52-mile superspeedway, located in eastern...

Tony Kanaan topped the speed charts on the first day of practice for Saturday's Indy Japan 300 on the 1.52-mile Twin Ring Motegi. Kanaan (200.842 mph) and three others averaged more than 200 mph around 1.52-mile superspeedway, located in eastern Japan.

"Overall, it was okay," said Kanaan. "We ran a full day and hopefully tomorrow will be better. I'm not quite happy with the balance of the car. We still have two days to go and a lot of work to do."

Target Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon (200.390 mph) and Dan Wheldon (200.250 mph) were second and third, respectively.

Two practice sessions were held with the first scheduled for 10:30 but most teams elected to wait on pit lane for the temperature to rise. After 45 minutes the weather remained much the same and cars were sent onto the track. During the first 45 minutes of the morning session only five cars turned laps.

Scott Dixon turned in the fastest lap in the morning (200.184) and was the only driver to top the 200 mph mark in that session.

Faced with the possibility of limited track time no one waited to go out in the afternoon session. A brief shower stopped the session and jet dryers made quick work of returning the track to the racers. The session resumed 37 minutes later but was ultimately cut short when light showers returned to the area. Rain is forecast for tonight and all day Friday.

Dixon said the rain hampered his performance. "I don't think we got maximum speed out of the car. I think we could have got into the 201s without the weather."

Helio Castroneves (200.032 mph) was fourth fastest despite turning only 70 laps. His teammate Ryan Briscoe (199.244 mph), turn 90 laps. "Today was an interesting day," said Castroneves. "The Team Penske car started off good, but then we faced a little problem. That's why we weren't able to do as many laps, and obviously, the rain made it a little harder on everyone. But right now we have a good car for the race and we'll see what happens with the weather."

Ed Carpenter trimmed 0.2174 seconds from his morning time to end the day fifth fastest at 199.737 mph. "We had a pretty good couple of practice sessions," said Carpenter. "Obviously, we are happy to out in times that are good enough for the top-five, but we also want to keep working to go faster. I hope the rain holds off tomorrow so we can try to qualify and see how we stack up with everybody else in qualifying."

Marco Andretti was sixth fastest, followed by Briscoe, Danica Patrick and Townsend Bell, making his second appearance this season with Dreyer and Reinbold. Hideki Mutoh relied on his speed (197.794 mph) from the morning session to round out the day's top ten.

Notes:

Buddy Rice and his wife Michelle welcomed their first child, a daughter named Mina, on April 9. Rice said he was only home for two or three days of fatherhood before leaving for Japan. "I'm home a few days before Kansas, but then I'll be gone for most of May todo Indy."

***

Teams were given a surprise wake up call early Thursday morning when a 5.7 magnitude earthquake, epicentered 320 miles north of Tokyo in the Pacific Ocean, gently shook their hotel rooms.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Townsend Bell , Buddy Rice , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Hideki Mutoh , Danica Patrick , Ed Carpenter
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing