IRL: Day Six: Gordon grabs P1 on Fast Friday

IRL: Day Six: Gordon grabs P1 on Fast Friday

INDIANAPOLIS, May 9, 2003 - There was another, familiar name atop the speed charts today, as Robby Gordon took the ...

INDIANAPOLIS, May 9, 2003 - There was another, familiar name atop the speed charts today, as Robby Gordon took the #27 Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda from the Andretti Green Racing stables to a quick tour of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's 2.5-mile oval of 38.900 seconds (231.362mph).

Robby Gordon.
Photo by indyracing.com/Ron McQueeney.
Waiting to the traditional "happy hour" on Fast Friday, Gordon's lap (his 23rd of 28) at 5:32pm in the waning afternoon practice session topped one turned just ten minutes earlier by Scott Sharp, driving the #8T Delphi Dallara/Toyota (38.9899 seconds for 230.829mph). This was a hot and muggy day, with temperatures at the time this duo set their quick tours hovering around 83-4 degrees (air) with 100-degree track temps. Anticipated rain never materialized.

Gordon, the NASCAR Winston Cup driver who is substituting for injured Dario Franchitti in the 87th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race acknowledged that he initially ran his car in race trim, pretty much to regain his "sea legs". "The car will be really good when it's time to go racing," he said. He was "on the limiter" down the straight during his quick laps this afternoon, Gordon admitted.

There were a total of ten cautions during the day, the longest for a crash by Arie Luyendyk, the two-time Indianapolis 500 Mile Race winner from 1990 and 1997. Driving the #20 Meijer Panoz G Force/Toyota, the Dutchman executed a 90-degree spin at the exit of Turn 1, contacting the outside retaining wall with the rear of his car.

After two additional contacts, his car made two more trips to the wall, heavily damaging the rear and left side of the car, and moderately hurting the right-front. Arie complained of back pain and went to Methodist Hospital for further evaluation.

Luyendyk was released from there in the late afternoon and will meet with Indy Racing League medical director Dr. Henry Bock tomorrow morning to gain clearance to race. "I'm hurting between the shoulder blades pretty bad right now but fortunately nothing is broken. That's the good news. The bad thing is I have to walk around with my arms folded to keep from hurting and my status is day-to-day. I'll be back in the car sooner or later, though. This is too much fun," Arie said.

Scott Dixon held top slot for the #9 Team Target Panoz G Force/Toyota team through much of the heat of the day. His lap of 39.0094 seconds (230.714mph), turned on his 11th of 13 laps, held for nearly two hours before Sharp and then Gordon took the top spots. "We posted our fastest speed without a tow, so we're very happy with where we're at."

Dan Wheldon, quickest of all throughout the preparatory period was fourth today in his #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda at 39.0170 seconds (230.669mph). The young Briton turned only eight laps and his best came on his 6th trip around the Brickyard oval. With the heat, the track turned slick this afternoon, making it impossible for anyone to top Wheldon's Thursday mark.

Now settled into a #3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota, Helio Castroneves was fifth quick at 39.0387 seconds (230.552mph), running 79 total laps and earning his best tour on lap 77. At 3pm this afternoon, Castroneves took a parade lap in the #68 Dallara/Oldsmobile he used to win the 2001 Indy 500. Tomas Scheckter was sixth in the #10 Panoz G Force/Toyota, logging 24 laps and turning his best on lap 12 and noting "we made a lot of speed gains in today's session."

Gil de Ferran continued to practice at the sharp end of the field and was 7th today in the #6 Panoz G Force/Toyota he finds comfortable to drive. Tony Kanaan spent only 18 laps on-circuit in the #11 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda yet was 8th at 39.1037 seconds (230.157mph) on his 4th lap of the Speedway. None in the Andretti Green Racing foursome spent a great deal of time on the track today, as owner/driver Michael Andretti completed only eight laps.

Tora Takagi.
Photo by Michael C. Johnson.
Tora Takagi continued his quick ways in the #12 Pioneer Panoz G Force/Toyota to take 9th place in practice, while Kenny Brack rounded out the top ten in the #15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Dallara/Honda. It's apparent the big contest today was between the two engine makers, with Honda claiming the top slot and Toyota placing six in the top ten.

There were a total of 33 car/driver combinations on the circuit today, and one newcomer: Shinji Nakano took the #54 Beard Papa's Dallara/Honda from Beck Motorsports out for his first laps around the famed Brickyard oval. He was the slowest guy out there but, "It was our first day on the track and since we were only able to get about 40 laps in, I wasn't able to learn too much." They had the usual mechanical gremlins to set them back. "Even so, it was very good to finally get the car out there and start the process."

You had to search back to 16th position to find a Chevrolet-powered racer on the time sheets today and it was Jaques Lazier quickest in the #2 Menards Dallara/Chevy. Buddy Rice had been in the top 15 for much of the afternoon, but as others came out for only the waning hours of practice, he fell back to 21st in the #52T Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet. After his blown engine yesterday, Sam Hornish managed 22nd in the #4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevy. Sam could only say, "It is one of those things."

Weather in the Midwest dictates the pace of MBNA Pole Day tomorrow. At this moment, meteorologists are saying there's a 60% chance of thunderstorms, but they predicted similar conditions today.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Robby Gordon , Scott Sharp , Arie Luyendyk , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jaques Lazier  , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Tora Takagi , Shinji Nakano , Kenny Brack , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Jim Beam , Sam Hornis
Teams Team Penske