IRL: Fast Friday sees Dixon atop timesheets

The month-long festival of speed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway continued on Fast Friday (May 11th) as Scott Dixon sped around the Brickyard to set a mark of 227.167 mph (39.6184 seconds) ahead of qualifying for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing....

The month-long festival of speed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway continued on Fast Friday (May 11th) as Scott Dixon sped around the Brickyard to set a mark of 227.167 mph (39.6184 seconds) ahead of qualifying for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. If the weather holds, as it should, the first day of "best eleven" qualifications ever will take place here in Speedway, Indiana on Saturday (May 12th).

When asked if his fast time today was prelude to a possible pole result Dixon replied, "It's something everybody would like to have on their resume. It's (Indy qualifying) the toughest by far of qualifying in our Series. It would mean a lot to me, especially to our crew guys, who spend a lot of time rubbing on this car, preparing this car, getting it ready for me to drive. It would be great to give that (the pole position) to Chip and the crew."

Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dan Wheldon posted a lap of 226.650 mph to take the second spot, while Andretti/Green's Tony Kanaan held down third on the day's timesheets at the final 6PM EDT gun.

Behind them came AGR's Marco Andretti, Dario Franchitti, Team Penske's Sam Hornish, Jr. and Danica Patrick. Vision Racing's Ed Carpenter, Helio Castroneves and Tomas Scheckter were next, with Foyt Racing's Darren Manning claiming eleventh-best for the day, which began and ended under partly cloudy skies and cooler temperatures from yesterday's scorcher.

Team Luczo Dragon's Ryan Briscoe was twelfth for the six-hour session in which 1263 laps were turned. Dreyer&Reinbold's Buddy Rice and Indy 500 veteran Michael Andretti were next, followed by Vitor Meira who was fifteenth-fastest today.

The first eight drivers recorded speeds in excess of 225 miles per hour on Friday. Only Castroneves and Scheckter failed to break through the 40-second per lap threshold among the top ten.

The promise of good weather Saturday (May 12th) moves the new qualifying format, wherein the fastest eleven cars from each day's sessions are entered consecutively into the field, back onto the lead lap at the Brickyard after being washed out the first two years it was tried. The tradition of the past, wherein the full field of thirty-three was filled prior to any bumping, yields to an attempt to increase excitement for fans and give drivers and teams a second chance to qualify any car.

Milka Duno's day ended early when her car spun coming through turn two and smacked the SAFER barrier rear-first moderately hard. The ensuing yellow to repair the safety-barrier that lines the hard concrete-walled 2.5 mile oval's corners took twenty minutes, during which Duno was cleared by medical personnel at the infield hospital.

"I just lost the car as I was entering the last part of the corner when I was coming to the apex," she said. "I feel so sorry for my team, and for the car, because we were doing such a good job. Now we'll just have to fix it," and get back on the track, she added.

Johnny Rutherford continued to provide excitement for the honorary starters hosted by the Speedway, whose honor includes waving the green flag to kick off practice each day at Noon. On Fast Friday the featured guest was Josey Scott of the rock group Saliva, who sports a bright ruby shock of hair dyed into a prominent centerfield portion of his naturally black coiffure.

When asked how fast he would drive Scott on an honorary lap around the Brickyard today in the 2007 Corvette convertible Pace Car, Rutherford replied, "I'm going to blow the paint right out of his hair."

At 3PM the mercury read 83 degrees, but a low humidity level kept drivers and fans comfortable watching the twenty-eight cars that saw track-time today. A volleyball game in the infield, on a formal sand-lot court set up by the fan-friendly professionals at the Speedway, kept the disinterested occupied while a good crowd of race fans filed into the Pagoda Plaza and grandstands along the pit road at Indianapolis.

The weather for Saturday promises another nice day and a high between seventy-five and eighty degrees in Indianapolis. Qualifications begin at Noon, with a short two-hour practice from 9AM-11AM the last prep before the racing gets serious at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Milka Duno , Tomas Scheckter , Darren Manning , Michael Andretti , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Danica Patrick , Ed Carpenter , Johnny Rutherford , Vitor Meira
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing