IRL: Homestead: Honda Friday report

Dan Wheldon Starts His IndyCar Title Defense Indy Racing League IndyCar Series Champion Dan Wheldon got his title defense off to an encouraging start Friday, leading a 20-car IRL field in practice for Sunday's season-opening race...

Dan Wheldon Starts His IndyCar Title Defense

Indy Racing League IndyCar Series Champion Dan Wheldon got his title defense off to an encouraging start Friday, leading a 20-car IRL field in practice for Sunday's season-opening race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Wheldon, who scored the first of his six 2005 race wins here en route to his first IndyCar crown, led with a best lap average speed of 215.561 mph, a two mile per hour improvement over last year's practice speeds here.

Teammate Scott Dixon was second fastest on the day, followed by Team Penske's Sam Hornish Jr. with 2004 series champion Tony Kanaan rounding out the top four. The top three drivers all were within one-hundredth of a second of Wheldon's time.

Honda is providing HI6R Indy V-8 engines to the entire IndyCar field in 2006, and IndyCar drivers recorded a total of 1,360 laps, or 2,040 miles, without an engine-related problem. The only incident of the day came early in the second of the two sessions, when an apparent suspension problem caused Vitor Meira to spin and crash his Panther Racing Dallara Honda into the Turn Four wall. Meira escaped serious injury in the heavy impact, and is expected to resume practice Saturday in a backup car.

Dan Wheldon (#10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) defending series champion, quickest in Friday practice: "We learned some things from what my teammate Scott [Dixon] tried in the morning session that really improved our car as well, so I have to thank him for that. It was a good day for us, but I still have a lot to learn. I'm with a new team, with a new engineer, and there are new aerodynamic rules [permitting reduced downforce at the rear of the cars] this year. So I hope to keep improving tomorrow so we can have a strong qualifying run as well."

-honda-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Chip Ganassi , Sam Hornish Jr. , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing