Marco Andretti tops 226 in first Indy practice

Marco Andretti tops 226 in first Indy practice

Thirty-three cars and thirty-two drivers contested the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's 2.5 mile oval on Tuesday with Andretti Green Racing's Marco Andretti topping the scoring pylon on a best lap of 226.599 miles per hour. Marco Andretti...

Thirty-three cars and thirty-two drivers contested the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's 2.5 mile oval on Tuesday with Andretti Green Racing's Marco Andretti topping the scoring pylon on a best lap of 226.599 miles per hour.

Marco Andretti in his Indianapolis special.
Photo by Andy Sallee.

Andretti's speed was better than 2007 Indianapolis 500 pole-winner Helio Castroneves' qualifying average of 225.817 miles per hour.

"We're in a decent position right now," said Andretti, "but it's a long month with a lot of ups and downs. It's going to be tough (to win pole) with all the Champ Car guys coming over."

The forecast may put a damper on the proceedings with the weather forecast indicating at least one day of rain prior to qualifying on Saturday (May 10th), something which Andretti duly noted.

"We'll chase the track a bit and stay with it," if it rains, he said. "It "is what it is, and it's the same for everyone."

Andretti's teammate Tony Kanaan was second-fastest with a lap of 225.269 mph; and third was Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon on 225.011 mph as practice for the full field commenced for the Indianapolis 500 for the first time this week. The past two days were for rookie orientation and drivers who needed a refresher on the famous oval.

Ryan Briscoe, Dan Wheldon , Helio Castroneves, Tomas Scheckter, Buddy Rice, Danica Patrick, and Castroneves (in his T-car) round out the top ten times for the six hour of on-track activity.

Patrick was sanguine about her day, in which she reached fourth-fastest early in the afternoon then slid to the ninth spot as the day continued.

"It's going to be more difficult," she said of the prospects for her winning her second IndyCar Series victory. "There are more drivers, more cars, more everything this year."

"I hope it leads to more excitment for the fans," she continued. "Hopefully they'll get even more involved."

There was also plenty of off-track activity at Indy today.

Chief among the visitors was Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who visited the Fisher Racing garages to lend support to Sarah Fisher's first-year team.

"I'm a fan of anyone with grit and determination, and Sarah surely fits that mold," said the Senator, who faces an important primary election in Indiana this day.

Conquest Racing's Jaime Camara's return to the track was pushed back a day as he awaited consultation with sports and racing orthopedic specialist Dr. Terry Trammell at Indianapolis' Methodist Hospital.

Camara complained of back pain following his Turn 1 crash on Monday, which was evaluated by x-ray and found negative. He was found fit to resume driving after his 4:00pm appointment with Trammmell and will return to action on Wednesday.

The gates open at 9:00am EDT on Wednesday at Indy, with a forecast sixty to seventy percent for rain showers.

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Series INDYCAR