Ryan Briscoe recorded the fastest lap at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the final day of practice before the top 11 positions will set for the 93rd running of the Indy 500. Briscoe and his Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves are now the favorites to earn the pole with both drivers turning laps above 225 mph.
"I'm feeling good," said Briscoe after pushing the event stop speed to 225.981 mph. "I think the car is running very solid. We've done some non-drafting laps, and the car's been fast. Tomorrow is another day, and everyone is going to be going for it. Hopefully, there won't be any surprises and we can stay at the top."
To earn Team Penske's 15th Indy 500 pole Briscoe thinks it will take speeds above 225 mph. "It depends on conditions. Around this track, with just some humidity or wind change you can lose or gain 2 mph. We've gotten in the high 225's. That will be a good target for tomorrow. I was on the front row last year, and I feel like my car is better than last year, so we're definitely going for it."
Helio Castroneves was second fastest (225.438 mph) on the day but his lap was just a tick slower than Marco Andretti's lap set yesterday. "It was a great day today," said Castroneves. "Team Penske is looking really strong, but tomorrow is what counts. It's all about getting those four consistent laps together - the four most important laps in motorsports. Hopefully we'll get a good starting position and we can begin to work on our race car."
At the end of the day Target Ganassi Racing teammates Dario Franchitti (224.984 mph) and Scott Dixon (224.822 mph) were third and fourth fastest, respectively. "I think today was overall a pretty solid day," said Franchitti. "We worked on the mechanical side of the car this morning and dialed that in, so we have a good direction of where we needed to be aero-wise."
Franchitti was quick out of the box this morning, setting his best lap on the 10th tour of the track. Nevertheless, Franchitti noted that, "at the end of the day the Target car was in a place we liked."
Third today, Franchitti is fourth fastest of the event.
Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti led the Andretti Green Racing squad today. "I'm really happy with today's practice," said Patrick who fast and smooth at the start of the session. "We were able to find a better balance on the car and I think in Indy having a car that you feel comfortable in is most important. You can't drive a bad car around this track and expect to do well. I feel very confident going into tomorrow's qualifying session."
Both Patrick and Andretti were pleased with the handling of their cars. "It would have been nice to take home the Fast Friday check, but we got the track time we needed, and I think we have a good set up for qualifying," said Andretti. "Tomorrow is going to be stressful, for sure, but I think the No. 26 car will be a pole contender."
Tony Kanaan struggled to find speed in his AGR No. 11 car so late in the afternoon he borrowed Andretti's car for a few laps. Kanaan's primary car had trouble reaching 222 mph without the aid of a tow but in Andretti's car he recorded several laps at 223 all by himself.
"It was a long day for Team 7-Eleven, we have a problem with the car and we are trying to figure out exactly what that is," Kanaan reported. "The entire team put in a lot of effort. I have to thank my crew for all the set up changes, and the #26 crew for allowing me to take their car out. The day before qualifying that can be a huge risk. It just shows that we stick together as a team and we work together as a team. Hopefully we can figure it out overnight, but if not then I'll just do my best tomorrow."
Robert Doornbos and Scott Sharp were both involved in single car incidents at the south end of the track. Doornbos made heavy contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2 and continued down the backstretch, coming to a rest near the entrance of Turn 3. Doornbos was unhurt.
"Going into Turn 1, I felt something really light on the front of the car, and then I brushed the wall," said Doorbos. "Then I went into the Turn 2 wall. Hopefully, it was just driver error and nothing went wrong on the car and we are able to fix it and come back strong tomorrow."
Doornbos sat out for most of the day, returning to track in his backup car during the last half hour of practice. He recorded six laps in the backup car with his best at 217.716 mph.
Scott Sharp spun in Turn one and slid through the short chute before making contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn two. Despite heavy damage to the right side of the car, Sharp climbed from the car without assistance.
"We were on a sticker run," Sharp said. "It was the second lap, pretty easy. I rolled down in there, and it just snapped on me. I'm not exactly sure what's up. We've been struggling a little bit to gain more speed and didn't really need this to happen right now. We'll see what the plan is and find a way to rebound."
Sharp's Panther Racing ride was expected to be repaired in time for qualifying.