INDIANAPOLIS, May 22, 2003 - Final practice is over for the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, as 32 of 33 qualifiers took to the track for the traditional two-hour Carburetion Day tune-up for the Greatest Spectacle in ...
INDIANAPOLIS, May 22, 2003 - Final practice is over for the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, as 32 of 33 qualifiers took to the track for the traditional two-hour Carburetion Day tune-up for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
Speeds were down significantly since Bump Day last Sunday, Kenny Brack logged the quickest lap of the day at 228.707mph in the #15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Dallara/Honda (on lap 6 of 17). Brack said, "It has been a fantastic day for us. We just did race preparation and hope the conditions stay the same to Sunday." The 1999 Indy 500 winner thinks it will be a "follow the leader" event for a while until everyone has their cars working properly for the sprint to the checkered flags.
Robby Gordon, one of the busiest drivers in the world this month, completed 22 laps and was 15th in the #27 Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda at 227.850mph, leaving immediately with his NASCAR team owner Richard Childress and teammate Kevin Harvick for Lowe's Motor Speedway where he'll practice and qualify for Sunday's Coca Cola 600. "Our main focus today was just making sure the car shifted gears, that the aero balance was right and I'm very pleased. The car feels very good and I'm very confident."
Gil de Ferran nabbed the third spot, practicing with the #6 Marlboro Team Penske Panoz G Force/Toyota at 227.812mph. He took only 14 laps and set his market on his 12th tour of the historic 2.5-mile oval. The Brazilian acknowledged his team "needed an extra day of practice, and when we were rained out on Saturday, we had to work hard. We had a good day last Sunday and I was very happy when I left. We just confirmed the changes we made then, did some laps and parked."
Greg Ray set the fourth quickest lap on his 20th of 25, hustling the #13 TrimSpa Panoz G Force/Honda to 227.790mph. The Texan then took new sponsor Lee Mroszak trackside to "watch the cars go fast," no doubt attempting to give his new partner a real feel for the rapid motion of the Indy cars. "I do better when I don't think about" the coming race on Sunday. "We're all focused on our own programs today, getting comfortable in our cars. I think we'll try to think about anything but the 500 between now and then."
Pole man Helio Castroneves was sixth in the #3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota, taking 22 laps and turning 226.993mph on his sixth. "We ran just enough laps to make sure everything is okay. I'm very happy with the car, it's handling well and I think we're in good shape for the race," Spiderman said.
Rookie Tony Renna was seventh in the #32 Cure Autism Now/HomeMed Dallara/Toyota. "It's basically a brand new car again and everything feels good. We did a couple of runs today to put a little lean on it and see how she would run, and everything is great," Renna said after turning 226.700mph on his 11th of 21 laps at the Brickyard.
Starting the race from the middle of row 1, Tony Kanaan went out for 23 laps in the #11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda, turning his best of 226.659mph on his 20th lap, good for eighth in practice. "It was just a shakedown," Kanaan acknowledged. "We were worried about lap times, anything. I just wanted to feel my car, feel my tires and everything was good."
Tomas Scheckter was ninth in the #10 Team Target Panoz G Force/Toyota, taking 24 laps and turning his best of 226.358mph on his ninth. "I'm happy with our day," the South African IndyCar sophomore said. "We tried some different things and learned quite a bit in a short amount of time. I think we are in pretty good shape for the race."
Scott Sharp's #8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota earned tenth in practice at 226.244mph on his 12th of 17 laps. "We really didn't do much work on the car because we know that if we're close today, conditions will most likely change. We'll fine-tune things Sunday morning," he allowed.
The sole driver not practicing on Carburetion Day was Robbie McGehee, as his #44 Pedigo Chevrolet Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet team "is doing mechanical work on the car and engine," McGehee said.
Once the 27th Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge is complete, it'll be time for the mechanics to do their final preparations as social activities take over the focus of the month of May. Thirty-three Indy cars will line up for the noon EDT start of the 87th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race this Sunday, May 25th.
While most bets are on Castroneves to three-peat, anything can happen. "This field is so deep and lots of people [in the race] are extremely competitive," his teammate Gil de Ferran stated. "This race will depend on track position and good pit stops in order for anyone to contend for the win."