IRL: Hornish hot on Friday Speedway timecharts

Speeds climbed as the sun returned over Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday (May 18th) and Team Penske's Sam Hornish Jr. screamed around the Brickyard at 225.006 miles per hour. Hornish's lap led all thirty-one drivers and cars that took the...

Speeds climbed as the sun returned over Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday (May 18th) and Team Penske's Sam Hornish Jr. screamed around the Brickyard at 225.006 miles per hour. Hornish's lap led all thirty-one drivers and cars that took the track today, and bested Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon (224.458 mph) and Andretti Green's Tony Kanaan (224.340 mph).

"It was a nice day out there," said Hornish, "and tomorrow's going to be even better."

"We put the car away early today and we'll come back out tomorrow to work on it a bit more. We feel pretty good with the car thusfar, but we have to get it exactly right before the race. There's no room for error in the Indy 500," he said.

AGR teammates Dario Franchitti and Marco Andretti were right behind Kanaan with speeds of 224.253 and 223.668 mph respectively. In sixth spot was 2005 Indy 500 champion Dan Wheldon (223.338 mph) and Helio Castroneves was seventh at 223.212 mph.

Danica Patrick remained among the leaders at the Speedway on Friday with a lap of 222.913 mph, followed by Panther Racing's third entry John Andretti at 222.830 mph. Roger Yasukawa in Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's third car was tenth-fastest at 222.409 mph.

A total of 1767 laps were turned as temperatures became more seasonal with a high of seventy and a clear blue sky above the huge racing complex in Indianapolis. Track temperature rose to a workable 119 degrees over the afternoon, giving the cars and the Firestones a high level of grip toward the substantially improved speeds turned in today.

Around the Speedway the buzz was all about the return of John Andretti, whose speed over 220 mph was the best of cars remaining to be qualified for the Indianapolis 500. His bright yellow racer with the blue stripes lapped comfortably with the fifth Andretti on the premises aboard. John's joined at the Speedway this month by Marco, Michael, Mario, and Aldo Andretti who all have various duties relating to the race.

Roger Yasukawa, Marty Roth, Phil Giebler, Al Unser Jr. and Jon Herb all posted numbers encouraging to their qualifying hopes, each of them topping 220 miles per hour on Friday.

Jimmy Kite returned to the track today after repairs were completed on his broken car that suffered a gearbox failure that led to his spin and crash on Wednesday afternoon. His speeds were the slowest of the day at 215.262 mph.

Robert Moreno was named to replace Stephan Gregoire who was knocked out of contention for this year's '500' with the back injury he suffered on Thursday. Moreno never took the track today, however, as his crew worked feverishly to prepare a backup car as time grows short for the Chastain Motorsports Team to regroup and qualify for the race ahead of 6PM Sunday.

Though she continues to linger on the timesheets (218.025 mph) CITGO's Milka Duno all but wrapped up the Miss Congeniality Award at Indianapolis on Friday, with hugs and smiles for everyone who approached her in the garages with an autograph request, a helmet to sign, or a picture to be posed.

Credit goes to all the women of the IRL this month of May for their forebearance with the fans and their requests of their heroines. Danica Patrick signed autographs as she walked from her garages and paused graciously while donning her driving gear for the camera phones that were aimed at her in the AGR pitbox. Sarah Fisher, thirteenth quick today at 222.057 mph, signed headgear and smiled up and down pitlane granting requests as well.

Old-timers will recall the name of Rick Galles from the hey-day of the Unser clan, who will be featured at an autograph session and family celebration in the Pagoda Plaza on Saturday. It was Galles who brought the freckled-face "Little Al" to the Speedway for the first time in 1983. Galles will be calling the race once again at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, this time from Vision Racing driver Davey Hamilton's pits.

Eleven cars remain to be gridded for the Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day (May 27th) with qualifications resuming for the third of four days on Saturday at Noon. There will be a one-hour practice session from 10:15 to 11:15 AM EDT leading up to the six hour session that could feature another afternoon of bumping if more than eleven cars are prepared to make a qualifications attempt.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers John Andretti , Sarah Fisher , Al Unser Jr. , Jon Herb , Stephan Gregoire , Davey Hamilton , Helio Castroneves , Jimmy Kite , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Roger Yasukawa , Marty Roth , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Aldo Andretti , Phil Giebler , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing