Joe Jennings, IndyCar Correspondent
Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon, former Indianapolis 500 winners, tuned up for Sunday’s 500 by topping the speed charts during the one-hour Carb Day session at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway mid-day on Friday.
The two champion drivers drive Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda’s, and their respective speeds were 222.360 and 222.274 miles per hour.
We knew it was coming and the track will be very slippery.
Said Franchitti about his rapid run, “The car was good, the same it has been all month. The Target boys have done a good job. The track got slippery and the hotter it got the more the cars moved around, making it harder for the guy behind the wheel. I think we have a good set-up under it for race day.”
Regarding the projected record-setting temperatures on race day, the Scotsman said, “We knew it was coming and the track will be very slippery. We will deal with it on Sunday, but it will be hard work behind the wheel. For the pit crews, it will be hard for them to keep their concentration but the drivers have a slight advantage with the 220 mph air-conditioning.”
He also tipped that fuel mileage will be one of the most important components of his team’s preparations.
Said Dixon about his 51 laps of practice, “I was just concentrating on getting the car feeling decent. It is nice to come out of a warm-up with a car that you feel happy with. I was hanging out in the back running in dirty air to see how the car would do. I am pretty happy, which is much better than I felt a week ago. We will just have to see how we stand (at the end).
The drivers learned earlier today the leader must leave a car length on the inside of the track when entering the first turn. The ruling seemed to catch the drivers by surprise, but they said they would deal with it.
Third fastest was Marco Andretti in the Team RC Cola Chevrolet for Andretti Autosport.
“Our goal was to get the car to be consistent – just to keep it underneath you,” he said. “I think the car is ready. At the beginning of practice, the track was green but once rubber was laid down, I got my race car back. It should be good for race day.”
As a group, the drivers are pleased to have single-file restarts in use, which should be safer for all concerned.
“I wasn’t a fan of double-file restarts,” Andretti noted. “It is crazy enough out there without double-file restarts. The two-wide was a recipe for disaster; they were much too dangerous.”
Takuma Sato and pole sitter Ryan Briscoe were fourth and fifth fastest.
Justin Wilson, Will Power, James Hinchcliffe, Tony Kanaan and Ryan Hunter- Reay rounded out the top-10 fastest drivers.
Thirty-two cars took to the track with only Ana Beatriz not taking a practice lap.
In total, 1,230 laps were completed. Briscoe led the way with 53 laps with Dixon and Graham Rahal close behind with 51 laps run. On the bottom end, Jean Alesi completed only eight circuits and James Jakes ran nine.