Texas: Thursday practice report

DIXON LEADS OPENING DAY AT WINDY TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY FORT WORTH, Texas, Thursday, June 5, 2008 - Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Scott Dixon, driving the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, topped the speed chart in the first practice...

DIXON LEADS OPENING DAY AT WINDY TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

FORT WORTH, Texas, Thursday, June 5, 2008 - Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Scott Dixon, driving the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, topped the speed chart in the first practice session - 90 minutes under the lights on the high-banked 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway oval - with a quick lap of 213.837 mph (24.4953 seconds) in preparation for the Bombardier Learjet 550k.

The session was run in wind that gusted to 35 mph. A record-tying 28 drivers for the IndyCar Series at the racetrack totaled 1,436 laps, with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Buddy Rice putting in a field-high 72.

Marco Andretti in the No. 26 Blockbuster car for Andretti Green Racing (213.465 mph; 24.5380 seconds) was second and John Andretti (212.956; 24.5966) in the No. 24 Roth Racing car was third. Dan Wheldon (212.932) in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car was fourth and A.J. Foyt IV (212.164) fifth in the No. 2 Lilly Diabetes/Vision Racing car.

Ryan Briscoe, who recorded his first IndyCar Series victory at Milwaukee, followed Vision Racing's Ed Carpenter (sixth at 212.164 mph). Andretti Green Racing's Danica Patrick (212.109) was eighth and KV Racing Technology's Will Power ninth (211.959). Power and Hideki Mutoh (211.952) are the only drivers in the top 10 to have not competed on the oval.

DAY 1 NOTEBOOK:

This is the 19th IndyCar Series event at Texas Motor Speedway. Sam Hornish Jr. won the race in 2007. Gil de Ferran holds the single-lap qualifying record with a lap of 23.5031 seconds, 222.864 mph set in October 2003. A four-lap qualifying record will be set during PEAK Motor Oil Pole Qualifying tomorrow night.

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Four Indianapolis 500 winners are entered in the Bombardier Learjet 550k: Scott Dixon (2008), Dan Wheldon (2005), Buddy Rice (2004) and Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002).

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Dan Wheldon will trade his traditional No.10 Target paint scheme for a black Polaroid car for the Bombardier Learjet 550k. Wheldon and the No.10 crew members will also switch out their traditional Target apparel for black Polaroid fire suits complemented with red, orange, green and purple detailing. The most excited about the paint scheme? The fashion-minded Wheldon.

DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "Look at this suit! This is the coolest thing I've seen in a long time. I wonder if we can get these for the rest of the season."

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Eli Lilly and CardioChek will also join the Vision Racing team at Texas Motor Speedway for the Vision Racing Wellness Tour, which allows race fans to stop by a mobile marketing unit for an opportunity to receive free cholesterol screenings and diabetes education. The complimentary cholesterol screenings and diabetes information will be made available at the track on Saturday, June 7, from 4-9 p.m., in the new Vision Racing Wellness Tour Mobile Marketing Unit.

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Nine Bombardier Learjet Rookie of the Year candidates are entered in this weekend's Bombardier Learjet 550k. Hideki Mutoh (Andretti Green Racing) leads Will Power (KV Racing Technology) by one point (131-130).

By virtue of Marco Andretti and John Andretti starting the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 at Milwaukee Mile on June 1, the Andretti family recorded its 1,000th open-wheel start.

Racing legend Mario Andretti made more than half the family's starts to date with 536 (408 Indy car starts and 128 Formula 1 starts). His son Michael made 317 starts (317 Indy car starts and 13 F1 starts) while John, son of Mario's twin brother Aldo, has made 76 starts. Marco Andretti, son of Michael has made 37 IndyCar Series starts, while his uncle Jeff, younger brother of Michael, made 21 Indy car starts.

In the 1,000 starts, the family has won 108 races, recorded 398 top-five finishes and 531 top-10 finishes.

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Crew for #14 Manning reports car had a fuel pump failure and is changing the engine. Repairs will keep the car from returning to the track tonight. Manning recorded six laps in practice tonight.

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BOMBARDIER LEARJET 550 POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fastest of the day): "Toward the end, when we were running over 50 laps on the tires, it started to get pretty sketchy and just the fact you're starting to run with more cars at that point. It was hard to predict how far away you needed to be from the other guys." (About what can be learned for the race practicing in windy conditions): "You're still trying to get grip on front-wheel balance and stuff like that. You have a much bigger window, so it's very hard to narrow things down. I think with most of our races these days, you need to roll off (the truck) pretty decent. You don't have too much time. You have a lack of tires almost. That why we sat (out of practice) for 40 minutes because you can't really run. You have to save enough tires - five sets of stickers - for the race. That leaves you with four s ets and quite long sessions." (About racing with 28 cars at TMS): "It's going to be tough, especially if you make a mistake and a few people go by you. It's just a little easier when you're running up front, no worse than fourth or fifth back. If you get back in that pack, it might be a little more difficult, but the great thing about this place is that you can pass. If you have a good car and have a bad pit stop and you drop back to 10th or 15th, you should be able to make your way through. It's going to be, especially if the wind is like this and guys that haven't really raced here before, you just hope they give a little bit more room then normal."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Blockbuster Dallara/Honda/Firestone, second-fastest of the day): "The wind was interesting. Even when we were running on our own, we were treating it like we were in traffic because of the wind. If you can get the car good in the wind, then it won't be bad in traffic. We ended up working on our racecar the whole time. We had ideal conditions with the car so that's why we were able to put it near the top. I think we're a couple of changes away from our race car yet."

JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 24 Roth Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, third-fastest of the day): "(Time sheets) don't always tell a story, but for us it's a good day. I've been around here in a stock car a lot of times, of course it's a little bit quicker in an IndyCar (Series car). It's a lot of fun and a new challenge. This wind is challenging too. We worked a lot on it and we learned a lot. I learned a lot, for sure." (About the windy conditions): "It was terrible. For me, I could feel it. Ironically, you could feel it more the slower you went."

DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fourth-fastest of the day): "I think we're starting a bit like we did at Milwaukee to be honest. My line was good tonight in the Polaroid car, and I think the Target team will be bringing another competitive package here to race with this weekend. It was very windy here tonight as well so we'll keep an eye on weather conditions heading into race day."

A.J. FOYT IV (No. 2 Lilly Diabetes/Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fifth-fastest of the day): "The wind is tricky. The car is handling totally different in each corner of the racetrack. I'm pretty happy with how we unloaded the car; it seems to be pretty quick. I think we have a good baseline and we'll look at it overnight and see what we have to do."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone): ''Today was a good start to the weekend for the No. 6 Team Penske crew. It was really windy out there, which made things a bit challenging at the beginning when we didn't quite know how it would affect the car. Thankfully, it really didn't seem to make things too difficult for us. We were working on our race set-up and were really happy with how the car was working in traffic. I'm looking forward to coming back out tomorrow to continue working on making it two in a row for the No. 6 car.''

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It was really windy out there tonight, so we couldn't get as much done as we would've liked. We were able to make some progress with the Team Penske car, though, and I think we're headed in the right direction. Hopefully, it won't be as windy tomorrow, so we can get some solid practice in before qualifying."

ORIOL SERVIA (No. 5 KV Racing Technology Dallara/Honda/Firesotne): "These were very special conditions on a very different track. Although it looks the same as Homestead and Kansas it is bumpier. The wind today made it difficult for everyone to deal with, but I think KV Racing Technology is getting a little closer. We keep catching up and we are a little closer than last time we were at a mile and half track. We still have a way to go to get to the front, but we have a better base point to start from tomorrow."

WILL POWER (No. 8 Aussie Vinyards-Team Australia Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "That was a good session for KVRT Aussie Vineyards - Team Australia. We did a lot of race setups, which will help. I love the track, it's good fun and I think the race is going to be real interesting. We just need to keep making good progress over the next couple of sessions and see if we can get a good race car."

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Menards/Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "Typical Texas. It's really hard to get more speed out of the car than you come here with. It seems like everyone's car is changing quite a bit from new tires to old tires, so the pace may slow down quite a bit. I'm not sure if the racing going to be quite like it has been in the past because the tires seem to be falling off (wearing) more than normally. We'll try to make it better tomorrow but I'm not sure how much more we'll be able to improve from today."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The Motorola car was fast tonight when we were not in traffic, but the minute we were in traffic, we got slow. Unfortunately, we did not have an opportunity to spend a great deal of time in traffic, so hopefully we will get a better feel tomorrow afternoon during the practice sessions."

HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 27 Formula Dream Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "Today was my first day driving at Texas Motor Speedway and it really is a tough track. I wanted to practice more in the traffic but I had few radio communication problems so I couldn't. Hopefully we will be able to sort them out by tomorrow, and I want to get used to the track before the race on Saturday."

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SATURDAY'S SCHEDULE: (all times local):

2-3:30 p.m.

IndyCar Series practice (Two groups based on qualifying draw)

4:15 p.m.

Driver autograph session

5:45 p.m.

PEAK Motor Oil Pole Qualifying (Elapsed time of four consecutive laps)

NOTE: Schedule subject to change due to weather.

*** The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the Bombardier Learjet 550k on June 7 at Texas Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast in High Definition at 10 p.m. (EDT) by ESPN2. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Jeld-Wen 100 June 21 at Iowa Speedway. The Milwaukee 100 will be telecast at 1 p.m. EDT June 5.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers John Andretti , Gil de Ferran , A.J. Foyt IV , Scott Dixon , Dan Wheldon , Mario Andretti , Buddy Rice , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Will Power , Hideki Mutoh , A.J. Foyt , Danica Patrick , Ed Carpenter
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing , KV Racing Technology