IRL: Chicagoland: Honda Friday report

Wheldon Continues Hot Streak, Leads Chicagoland Practice Dan Wheldon, who led a 1-2-3 sweep of the most recent Indy Racing League event, Aug. 29 at Nazareth Speedway, continues to be the man to beat in IRL IndyCar Series competition, as the ...

Wheldon Continues Hot Streak, Leads Chicagoland Practice

Dan Wheldon, who led a 1-2-3 sweep of the most recent Indy Racing League event, Aug. 29 at Nazareth Speedway, continues to be the man to beat in IRL IndyCar Series competition, as the Andretti Green Racing driver headed the field in opening practice Friday for Sunday's Delphi Indy 300.

Speeds increased in the second of two on-track sessions Friday, held under nearly perfect weather conditions at Chicagoland Speedway, as drivers frequently ran together in large packs, perfecting the drafting techniques necessary for Sunday's 300-mile contest.

At the end of the day, Honda drivers laid claim to the four fastest speeds, and seven of the top nine positions. Rahal Letterman Racing's Vitor Meira posted the second-fastest time of the day, followed by Andretti Green Racing's Bryan Herta and Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice.

Dario Franchitti, a two-time winner this year on mile-long IndyCar "short tracks" ran sixth quickest, with IRL drivers' championship leader Tony Kanaan eighth and Fernandez Racing owner/driver Adrian Fernandez ninth on the day, despite missing much of the morning session due to mechanical problems. IndyCar rookies Kosuke Matsuura and Mark Taylor rounded out the Honda-powered effort Friday, with Matsuura running 16th for Super Aguri Fernandez Racing, and Access Motorsports' Taylor 20th.

Additional practice and single-car qualifying take place on Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway, located just outside of Joliet, Ill. Honda, which has already clinched the 2004 IRL Manufacturers' Championship, will be seeking its "lucky" 13th consecutive race victory in Sunday's 200-lap feature, with live television coverage on ABC.

Dan Wheldon (#26 Jim Beam/Klein Tools Andretti Green Racing Honda): fastest in both of Friday's practice sessions: "I got a very good draft to set that fast lap in the morning. In the afternoon, we were working on our race stuff. 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 car feels very competitive, and that's very encouraging."

-honda-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Kosuke Matsuura , Jim Beam , Vitor Meira