CHAMPCAR/CART: Indy 500 Practice as seen from Turn 4 (5/12)

Thursday saw another fast clean day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I almost hate to bring it up, but this has been one of the safest, cleanest weeks of practice that I can remember. Hopefully as the drivers push for that extra...

Thursday saw another fast clean day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I almost hate to bring it up, but this has been one of the safest, cleanest weeks of practice that I can remember. Hopefully as the drivers push for that extra tenth tomorrow and Pole Day it will continue to be incident free. Of course, that's not to say that several of the cars aren't pushing the envelope right now. In general, it seems that the racing line has moved up on the track a foot or two and a few of the guys are running even higher than that. Gary Bettenhausen had a moment that got everyone's attention, including his. He came way high out of 4 but was able to get out of the throttle quick enough to avoid contact. I think that a less experienced driver would probably have crashed. Robby Gordon continues to scare us and was rewarded with a 226.946 lap for his efforts. Dominic Dobson moved into the 225 range by hanging it out. The drivers consistently running the highest lines are Gordon, Cheever, Dobson, John Paul Jr, Johansson and Rahal. Hideshi Matsuda is scary to watch because he doesn't have any consistent line. He's all over the place, as is Villeneuve. Both Newman/Haas drivers use a lot of track, but so far not to the point of being scary....On the other side of the coin, all three Penske drivers look very smooth. The same can be said for Michael A, Boesel, Vasser and Arie. Arie made a big jump today getting the car within just a tick of 226...The Penske cars continue to show a little more power each day. Today, both Emmo and Tracy ran trap speeds of 244 MPH! That has to seem fast with the narrow turns of Indy coming at you. Emmo swears up and down that the Penskes are not sandbagging. It seems that everyone else that you talk to thinks that they are. If their quick laps didn't look so easy, it would be easier to believe them. Of course, it's the quick laps that usually look easy at Indy. If you're working too hard, you're probably going 215. That's the situation that Bobby Rahal has found himself in again this year and today can't have offered too much encouragement. While he did get the Honda over 221, others were making bigger jumps. Lyn St James reached 224.4 in a surprisingly good run. Had qualifying been today, Rahal and Groff would've been 28th and 30th on the grid. That's got to be too close for comfort....It's hard to judge the size of the crowd in a place as big as the Speedway, but today's Thursday crowd was as big as any I can remember and I've been going there a lot of years. They are evidently expecting a real big crowd tomorrow. They've announced that they will be opening a couple of the 4th turn stands on the outside of the track. That's very unusual...Most of the drivers who had experimented with the fins drove without them today. The most notable exception was Michael Andretti who still had his on....Today's top 5: 1-Emmo-230.438, 2-Tracy-228.444, 3-Michael Andretti 227.698, 4-Al Jr.-227.457, 5-Boesel-227.175.It was not only fast today, it was quite busy. 44 cars turned a total of 2,416 laps....The weather for Friday looks to be very good. Sunny and 75. Saturday's forecast unfortunately is still up in the air. Depending on which weatherman you listen to, it will be either: Dry, an all day rain or isolated showers and thunderstorms...Geoff Brabham is working on a ride with John Menard....Hiro cut Cheever off big time entering the pits this morning. Eddie signalled that Hiro was number one in his book. Later, Eddie gave the same vote of confidence to Mike Groff for a similar move.-Dave in Turn 4

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Michael Andretti , Bobby Rahal , John Paul , Dominic Dobson , Geoff Brabham , Matsuda Hideshi