IRL: Dixon leads the way in Motegi Friday practice

IRL: Dixon leads the way in Motegi Friday practice

MOTEGI, Japan (April 11, 2003) -- As the last minutes of Friday's final practice session wound down, Scott Dixon knocked Tony Kanaan from the top spot on speed charts after averaging 206.996 mph around the 1.52-mile Twin Ring ...

MOTEGI, Japan (April 11, 2003) -- As the last minutes of Friday's final practice session wound down, Scott Dixon knocked Tony Kanaan from the top spot on speed charts after averaging 206.996 mph around the 1.52-mile Twin Ring Motegi Superspeedway.

Scott Dixon.
Photo by indyracing.com/Ron McQueeney.
Dixon was fastest in the morning session too with a lap at 205.648 mph.

"Today the car was pretty quick right out of the box," Dixon said. "We made minimal changes throughout the morning, and then this afternoon we didn't do too much. Basically we just freed the car up, and I tried to get a little bit more speed out of it."

Tony Kanaan, second fastest in both sessions, was fast as soon as he took to the track. His best lap of the morning session (204.648 mph) came on his ninth tour of the circuit.

Kenny Brack was third fastest on the day with a lap at 205.571 mph (26.8622) after trimming over two tenths of a second from the first session. Times improved dramatically over the course of the day with the second session producing the top nine times.

"The track didn't change that much today," said Brack. "There was no advantage in either session other than the second practice had more rubber on the track."

Tomas Scheckter ran 204.057 mph in the morning, placing him third in the session. Unable to improve in the afternoon, his time dropped him to tenth place at the end of the day.

Kelley Racing teammates Al Unser Jr. and Scott Sharp were fourth and fifth fastest, respectively. Unser said he enjoyed being back at Motegi. "It's really great to be back in Japan. The racetrack is much the same as I remember it from 1998. If there's any difference it's smoother than when it was brand new."

Dan Wheldon, who is subbing for the injured Dario Franchitti, was the fastest rookie of the day. Wheldon ended the day 12th overall after spending most of the day working on race setup.

"I definitely don't have as much experience as my teammates, and that is showing right now," said Wheldon. "I don't think we are where we want to be, but we are close."

Once Wheldon's team co-owner Michael Andretti retires from the cockpit, the young Brit will become a fulltime driver for the three-car Andretti Green Racing team.

With Michael facing the penultimate race of his career this weekend, he admitted, "it's starting to feel a little strange."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Al Unser Jr. , Scott Sharp , Michael Andretti , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Kenny Brack , Dan Wheldon