Wheldon fastest in Texas Thursday night practice

Dan Wheldon emerged atop the speed charts after a 45-minute practice session for Saturday night's Bombardier Learjet 500k at Texas Motor Speedway. Wheldon, who was clocked at 215.783 mph around the 1.455-mile superspeedway, was a full tenth of a...

Dan Wheldon emerged atop the speed charts after a 45-minute practice session for Saturday night's Bombardier Learjet 500k at Texas Motor Speedway. Wheldon, who was clocked at 215.783 mph around the 1.455-mile superspeedway, was a full tenth of a second faster than Danica Patrick (214.884 mph).

Wheldon, who is looking to become the fourth Panther Racing driver to win on the high-banked Texas oval, acknowledged that the times are changing in IndyCar racing. "It's become harder and harder to win in the IndyCar Series," he said. "We've rolled off the truck pretty strong, but when you look at that time it was in a pretty big draft. This is probably, in terms of speed, the most competitive we've been and that's a very good sign for the weekend."

Danica Patrick, who is coming off good finishes at Indianapolis and Milwaukee, was pleased with her car.

"So far this weekend has started exactly the way I hoped it would," said Patrick, who was recently named to the Forbe's Celebrity 100 list. "The 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."

The Ganassi and Penske drivers took the next four positions on the speed chart with Ryan Briscoe third fastest, followed by Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves.

After practice, Briscoe emphasized having a good race setup. "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 solid. I think we have a bit of work left heading into the race, but so far we're in good shape. I don't k now how much work we'll do on qualifying set-up, because it's all about having a good race car."

Graham Rahal was seventh.

An unhappy Tony Kanaan (213.767 mph) was eighth, 0.1274 of a second slower than his Andretti Green Racing teammate Danica Patrick.

"Tonight was a frustrating practice for Team 7-Eleven," said Kanaan. "Today we started with the same set up we used at Indy; we had a few problems with it there and I think the same problems have found us tonight. We have an idea of what we're up against and the crew will work hard to get us where we need to be for qualifying tomorrow."

Milka Duno took advantage of the extra 45 minute practice session for rookies and drivers outside the top ten in points to turn 80 laps. She was a ninth fastest at 213.539 mph.

AGR drivers Marco Andretti and Hideki Mutoh were tenth and eleventh, respectively. Mutoh, eligible for the extra 45 minutes of practice, turned 88 laps, the most of any driver.

The action tomorrow begins at 2:00 PM (CDT) with a one hour practice prior to a green flag a 5:30 PM to start the single car qualifying to set the grid for Saturday night's race.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Milka Duno , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Graham Rahal , Dan Wheldon , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Hideki Mutoh , Danica Patrick
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske