Wheldon, Patrick pace field at Homestead testing

Dan Wheldon set the fastest lap over the two day IndyCar Series open test at the Homstead-Miami Speedway. Wheldon, who is the reigning three-time champion of the Miami 300 IndyCar race, led the field on Wednesday night with a speed of 213.312 mph.

Dan Wheldon.
Photo by Luis Betancourt.

"Well it's great to get back in the car obviously," said Wheldon, "and everybody in the race shop at Target Chip Ganassi has been working hard to make sure we can improve on last season. Judging by the test, it's gone very well. There's some room for improvement, but for our test back into the swing of things, and to be back at Homestead, I think we're in pretty good shape."

Tonight, Danica Patrick recovered sufficiently from an illness that sidelined her from practicing Wednesday evening to post the top speed, traveling at 213.182 mph in her familiar black and slate blue Andretti Green Racing Dallara/Honda.

"I was sicker than I've ever been before on a day when I had to do something," said Patrick. "I was dizzy and my head was full of pressure. I didn't feel balanced, on top of other things. For me, it would have been silly to try and push it and go out there and try and feel the edge at a place like Homestead where the grip and the intensity level is pretty high compared to the rest of the mile-and-a-halfs."

"Today was a good day. It's kind of nice to go out there, skip a day, go out and be quickest. We were definitely struggling with the race car," she coninued. "Until the very end of the day we were really pushing to figure it out. We definitely didn't have it down. At the end of the day, we're all walking away pretty happy. The team did a good job of working in the offseason."

The final night practice on the 1.5-mile oval allowed the IndyCar drivers prepare for the season opener on March 29th. Team Penske newcomer Ryan Briscoe ran second-best to Patrick with a speed of 213.056 mph. He was followed by Chip Ganassi Racing's Wheldon with a best lap of 212.980 mph.

Briscoe's first turn at the wheel of the car vacated by Sam Hornish Jr. left him eager for more track-time in the orange and white No. 6 machine.

"It was pretty exciting to run in traffic and just to find my own out there with all the cars," he said. "It was a good start. It was a real good test for us at Team Penske. I'm looking forward to getting some more running out there with the guys and learning more at the first race, but we're really happy with how this test went. I was ready to go racing here by the end of the night."

The Indy Racing League takes the show on the road to the Sebring International Raceway's 1.669-mile short track next week.