IRL: Day two: Tora, Tora, Tora Takagi fast at Indy

IRL: Day two: Tora, Tora, Tora Takagi fast at Indy

INDIANAPOLIS (May 5, 2003) -- The 87th Indianapolis 500's freshman class continued to show exceptional speed as three rookies claimed top five positions today. Tora Takagi. Photo by indyracing.com/Ron McQueeney. Rookie driver Tora ...

INDIANAPOLIS (May 5, 2003) -- The 87th Indianapolis 500's freshman class continued to show exceptional speed as three rookies claimed top five positions today.

Tora Takagi.
Photo by indyracing.com/Ron McQueeney.
Rookie driver Tora Takagi drove a Toyota-powered Panoz G Force to the top spot after averaging 229.019 mph around the 2.5-mile speedway. Takagi was third fastest yesterday beating both his Mo Nunn Racing teammates Felipe Giaffone and two-time 500 winner Arie Luyendyk.

"I was very conservative today," said Takagi. "When I went out after noon, my car wasn't so good. It was very slippery because of the track. I went out after 4 o'clock and the car was much, much better."

Despite complaining about the car during his first run, Takagi managed a lap at 227.445 mph, which held up for fourth fastest until the final hour of practice.

Scott Sharp, who was fastest yesterday, was second quick today with a lap at 228.766 mph. Sharp practiced with his primary car today, turning a total of 43 laps. Yesterday, he set the fastest lap of the day in his backup car after turning nine laps.

"We had a great day," said Sharp. "We tried some different things we wanted to get done. Some worked and some didn't, but we did get the cart going a bit quicker at the end."

Sharp ran several laps over 228 mph without a tow before calling it a day.

Scott Dixon was third fastest, posting a lap at 228.427 in the Ganassi Racing entry. Dixon sat atop the speed chart for most of the day after turning an early lap at 227.734 mph. His best lap, set during then heat of the day, held the top spot until the final hour, known as "happy hour" when temperatures drop and speeds increase.

Veteran driver Gil de Ferran was fourth fastest; giving Toyota engines the top four positions on the day. "Today was a good day for Team Penske. We ran a lot of laps, and I'm very happy with the ways things are progressing," said de Ferran, who recorded 62 laps today.

"I particularly enjoyed the middle part of the afternoon, as I was mostly running by myself. It really gave me the opportunity to get into my own groove and continue to get my rhythm back."

Gil de Ferran.
Photo by indyracing.com/Ron McQueeney.
De Ferran's teammate Helio Castroneves was busy too, splitting his time between the Dallara and Panoz G Force chassis. After 69 laps in the Dallara, Castroneves was sixth fastest at 227.953 mph. The Panoz G Force went 226.958 mph after 25 laps.

"We spent most of the first two days developing the Dallara and I feel we've made a lot of progress," said Castroneves. "At the end of the day, we switched to the G Force because we are still trying to decide which car will be more competitive for the race."

Tora Takagi, Mo Nunn Racing's rookie driver in the IndyCar Series and at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway has not allowed the awe of the Brickyard affect his ability to do his job.

Today, the Japanese driver followed up his performance from yesterday's opening day practice to top the chart. Takagi is the first driver to go over 229mph, which he did with slightly less than 30 minutes left for the second day of practice. His best time today was 39.298 seconds (229.019 mph).

Yesterday, the unintimidated Takagi was third fastest at 227.884 mph (39.4937 seconds) at the 2.5-mile oval.

"I was very conservative today," commented Takagi after the six-hour practice session. "The weather was much hotter today, and the track was slick. We made many changes to the car, and when I went back out after 4 o'clock, the car was much, much better."

Second in today's session was yesterday's leader, Scott Sharp. Today the Kelley Racing driver's best lap was 228.766 mph. Chip Canassi Racing's Scott (Dixon, that is) was third with a speed of 228.427 mph.

Team Penske drivers were fourth and sixth fastest with rookie Dan Wheldon of Andretti Green Racing sandwiched between them.

Rounding out the top five was rookie driver Dan Wheldon who replaces his team co-owner Michael Andretti when Andretti retires after this race. Wheldon drove the fastest Honda-powered car to a speed of 228.233 mph.

Indy: Behind the Barriers, Day 2

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Felipe Giaffone , Scott Sharp , Arie Luyendyk , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Scott Dixon , Tora Takagi , Dan Wheldon , Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing