IRL: Chicagoland: Friday practice report

Wheldon Tops Opening Practice at Chicagoland JOLIET Ill., Friday, Sept. 10, 2004 -- Dan Wheldon led opening day of preparations for the IRL IndyCar® Series Delphi Indy 300, recording the fastest lap of each practice session. Wheldon, driver...

Wheldon Tops Opening Practice at Chicagoland

JOLIET Ill., Friday, Sept. 10, 2004 -- Dan Wheldon led opening day of preparations for the IRL IndyCar® Series Delphi Indy 300, recording the fastest lap of each practice session.

Wheldon, driver of the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/ Firestone, recorded a best lap of 25.2788 seconds, 216.466 mph, in the afternoon session. Wheldon's lap was slightly better than Vitor Meira, whose fastest lap of 25.3508 seconds, 215.851 mph also was recorded in the afternoon session. Bryan Herta was third at 25.3608 seconds, 215.766 mph in the No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

Qualifying for the Delphi Indy 300 is scheduled for Noon (EDT) on Sept. 11.


TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We were working on race stuff during both sessions. A lot of people got a good draft. I didn't, but I feel good about everything because the Team 7-Eleven car is pretty consistent."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We were lucky in that we missed the first session as a penalty for my pit-lane incident at Nazareth. We're lucky that Allen (McDonald) and all the boys did a good job with the ArcaEx car. It's pretty close to where we need to be. I got to do some running on my own, some running in a pack with my teammates and some other guys, which really helped us. It's definitely given us a direction to go towards tomorrow, both for qualifying and the final practice session."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "My car was good. I got a very good draft to set that fast lap. Now we're just working on our race stuff. The session we've got to focus on now is the warmup. We've got to make sure we've got a good car for the race. You qualify here on your own, but you race in a pack of 22, so you've got to make sure you're ready for that. Certainly, the Klein Tools/Jim Beam car feels competitive. Now, we'll just have to wait and see what happens."

BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone): ""So far, so good. We had some good running in the pack today. The XM car was working pretty good, so I'm pretty pleased. It was good because we had some good cars in that pack that we practiced with. We had our four cars, Buddy Rice was in there, the Penskes were in there for a while and a couple of the Ganassi cars, so it was a good pack to be in because I think it will be some of the same guys we'll see at the front on Sunday."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): "The car is pretty good, but we're looking to get a bit more speed out of it right now. There's a tailwind on the backstretch, and the bump will make it a bit tricky for qualifying. There is a bit more work to be done on our qualifying setup, but if practice is any indication, where you saw how the cars are running very closely and side by side, the race is going to live up to its reputation for delivering an exciting race for both drivers and fans."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We're a bit behind since we didn't run in the first session, but we're happy with how everything went this afternoon. The Marlboro Team Penske car was good overall and handled well in traffic. I wish we'd been a bit quicker, but tomorrow, we'll focus on qualifying and see if we can put ourselves toward the front of the field. This is a race that you can win from anywhere on the grid, but it's always nice to start up front."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We had a good day today. We made a lot of progress during practice, and the Marlboro Team Penske car is handling well. We worked on the race setup in both sessions, and so far, the car has been very consistent, which will definitely be a necessity for the race. Tomorrow we'll shift our attention to qualifying, and hopefully, we'll be able to put it near the front."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Pioneer/Argent Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "We ran through our program today with both the qualifying and race setups, and I'm pretty pleased how things went. It was a little wild at the end of the afternoon session with all of the cars running in race trim, but qualifying doesn't mean a lot at this place. It is the similar 1.5-mile oval race, with everyone jockeying around for the last 25 laps. We have played the game all year on these kinds of tracks. It's all about race positioning and getting in the proper place at the proper time. I know the Rahal Letterman team has the strategy for a place like this, and we'll be ready."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Centrix Panoz G Force/ Honda/Firestone): "It feels good to be back on the 1.5 mile oval. I like this Chicagoland track a lot. We are able to run in many lines here. Boy, that Honda power really shows up at a place like here. At a track like Chicago, you have to have a strategy and a game plan. You have to play the game here with all of the cars in a pack. I am excited to come back here after a couple of short-track races. These types of tracks have been our strength all year. We ran our qualifying setup in the morning and the race setup in the afternoon. In fact, we ran the car out of fuel from full tanks. We ran more laps than the other cars, and everything seemed very good. Now it's time to get ready for Saturday."


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Chip Ganassi , Jim Beam , Vitor Meira
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing