Texas: Series Thursday practice report

WHELDON TOPS NIGHT PRACTICE AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY FORT WORTH, Texas (Thursday, June 4, 2009) - Dan Wheldon, who has a trio of third-place finishes at Texas Motor Speedway, will attempt to give Panther Racing its sixth victory at the track June...

WHELDON TOPS NIGHT PRACTICE AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

FORT WORTH, Texas (Thursday, June 4, 2009) - Dan Wheldon, who has a trio of third-place finishes at Texas Motor Speedway, will attempt to give Panther Racing its sixth victory at the track June 6 in the Bombardier Learjet 550k. He started quickly on the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval.

Wheldon, driving the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car, posted the quickest lap (215.783 mph; 24.2744 seconds) in a twilight practice session. Andretti Green Racing's Danica Patrick was second (214.884; 24.3759) in the No. 7 Boost Mobile/Motorola car.

Ryan Briscoe (214.652), Dario Franchitti (214.433) and Scott Dixon (214.399) - the top three in the championship standings in reverse order - also were in the top five in the 45-minute all-car session that followed 45 minutes of practice for rookies and drivers not in the top 10 in points.

Helio Castroneves (214.311) was sixth and Graham Rahal (214.224) was seventh, while Tony Kanaan (213.767) was eighth and Milka Duno ninth (213.539). Andretti Green Racing teammates Marco Andretti (213.387) and Hideki Mutoh (213.317) followed.

DAY 1 NOTEBOOK:

This is the 20th IndyCar Series event at Texas Motor Speedway. Scott Dixon won the race in 2008. Gil de Ferran holds the single-lap qualifying record with a lap of 23.5031 seconds, 222.864 mph set in October 2003. Scott Dixon holds the four-lap qualifying record of 214.878 mph set last year. Past winners Scott Dixon (2008), Helio Castroneves (2006 and Oct. 2004), Tomas Scheckter (2005) and Tony Kanaan (June 2004) are entered in the event.

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Danica Patrick is on Forbes' Celebrity 100 list, joining luminaries such as Angelina Jolie (first on the list), Oprah Winfrey (second) and President Barack Obama (49th).

The Celebrity 100, which includes film and television actors, models, chefs, athletes, authors, and musicians, is a measure of entertainment-related earnings and media visibility (exposure in print, television, radio and online). The earnings estimates consist of pre-tax income between June 2008 and June 2009. Management, agent, and attorney fees are not deducted.

Patrick, who is ranked No. 100, broke through last year in Japan when she became the first woman to win a major closed-course auto race. Her third-place finish in the Indianapolis 500 on May 24 was the highest ever for a female driver. Patrick, who has four consecutive top-five finishes in the books, will compete this weekend in the Bombardier Learjet 550k at Texas Motor Speedway in the No. 7 Boost Mobile/Motorola car for Andretti Green Racing.

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Alex Tagliani has driven on the Texas Motor Speedway oval before, but this will be the first time he'll compete in a race. Tagliani, who advanced 22 positions to finish 11th in his first Indianapolis 500 on May 24, will drive the No. 34 entry with sponsorship from the Rexall Edmonton Indy, Lifelock, TDS and the King Tut exhibit that continues its national tour with a stop at the Children's Museum in Indianapolis starting June 27.

ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 34 Conquest Racing): "I remember my first time in Texas in 2001 back when I was in CART. It was pretty crazy having to cancel the race because of the sustained G forces. I enjoyed running at Texas back then so I'm looking forward to my first race here this weekend. I'm still fresh from our great run and unbelievable experience at Indy," he said. "It was great teamwork. This weekend will again be important for us. We will keep on doing our best and it will be a great opportunity for us to keep progressing on these types of tracks."

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Luczo Dragon Racing co-owner Steve Luczo is not at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend. He is in Sicily to present scholarships and receives honorary citizenship in Corleone, Italy, his family's hometown.

Luczo will present scholarships in honor of his mother Rose Luczo to students in Corleone. He and Philip G. Zimbardo, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, will receive honorary citizenship June 6 in a ceremony at City Hall.

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Dario Franchitti hopes running an Energizer livery at Texas will bring him the same luck it has for Scott Dixon over the last three years at TCGR.

Dixon has won the three races he has used the Energizer scheme. In 2006, Dixon won at Watkins Glen in the Energizer car. In 2007 and 2008 Dixon won at Nashville Superspeedway.

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Energizer): "I didn't know that (Scott was undefeated in the Energizer car), maybe he'll want to trade cars this weekend since I seem to run better in the Target colors. I know Dan (Wheldon) wasn't undefeated in the Energizer car. I just want to win races regardless of what the car looks like."

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Dreyer & Reinbold Racing announced today that South African driver Tomas Scheckter and sponsor MonaVie will join the team's IndyCar Series effort for more events this season, beginning this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

Scheckter, who qualified 10th and finished 13th for the team at Milwaukee, is currently slated to run nine additional races with the team in 2009 season with MonaVie as the primary sponsor.

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 43 MonaVie/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "I'm really excited about it. I think we proved in a short time in Milwaukee that we are competitive. Dennis (Reinbold) and Robbie (Buhl) have given me a great opportunity, and I'm lucky to have MonaVie onboard. They have been extremely supportive, and I'm looking forward to getting the MonaVie car on the track in Texas and hopefully put it in victory lane."

DENNIS REINBOLD (Dreyer & Reinbold Racing co-owner): "We are excited to have Tomas and MonaVie join our team for more events. He did a great job for us in Milwaukee, and we are extremely happy that we were able to work something out with him and MonaVie for nine additional races.p"

DALLIN LARSEN (MonaVie Founder and President): "MonaVie is pleased to introduce the MonaVie brand and new MonaVie EMV at these amazing IndyCar Series events. Our relationship with Tomas and team Dreyer & Reinbold Racing will help introduce MonaVie's new energy drink to those looking for the perfect equation of health and energy to recharge both mind and body."

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POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:

DAN WHELDON (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing, fastest in practice): "Panther has won a lot of races here, and with the times changing, it seems a lot harder to win IndyCar Series races. We rolled off the truck pretty strong. When you look at the time sheet, you can see I had a pretty strong draft, but the car seems to be quick on our own. I would say that in terms of speed, it's the most competitive car we've had this season. That's certainly a good sign. It's still the first practice sessions. There's not too much to be excited about right now, but we certainly have a car capable of being quick. We just need to work on it so it's as good in traffic."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Boost Mobile/Motorola, second fastest): "So far this weekend has started exactly the way I hoped it would. The Boost Mobile/Motorola car unloaded fast and felt very comfortable in traffic. The bottom line is that Eddie (Jones) and Marco (Andretti) were able to set up a very good car last year. We ran their 2008 race set up and didn't change a thing for tonight's session. I'm really excited for the rest of the weekend and think we'll be strong Saturday."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske): "It was a good first session tonight. We did a lot of pack running to simulate what the car will be like during the race. Overall, the Team Penske car was pretty soild. I think we have a bit of work left heading into the race, but so far we're in good shape. I don't know how much work we'll do on qualifying set-up, because it's all about having a good race car. Obviously, we'll want to come out tomorrow and qualify near the front, but for now we're focused on preparing for Saturday night."

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The 2009 IndyCar Series season continues June 6 with the Bombardier Learjet 550k at Texas Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 9 p.m. (EDT) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The radio broadcast also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Iowa 100 on June 20 at Iowa Speedway. The race will be telecast at 4 p.m. on June 22 by VERSUS.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Milka Duno , Tomas Scheckter , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Alex Tagliani , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Graham Rahal , Dan Wheldon , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Hideki Mutoh , Danica Patrick
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Dragon Racing , Conquest Racing