IRL: Hornish tops Indy speed chart for second consecutive day

Practice continued at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Sam Hornish Jr. setting the fastest lap for the second consecutive day. Hornish was the only driver to break the 226 mph barrier when he recorded a lap at 226.056 mph before rain forced...

Practice continued at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Sam Hornish Jr. setting the fastest lap for the second consecutive day. Hornish was the only driver to break the 226 mph barrier when he recorded a lap at 226.056 mph before rain forced the track to close just after 3:30 p.m. After driving both his primary and back up cars yesterday, Hornish focused solely on his primary car today.

"It's pretty exciting," Hornish said in response to being fastest two days in a row. "But nothing really matters until race day. We're going to try to continue to go through the paces and not get crossed up and fall down. We'll keep working and hope that Saturday is good for us."

Hornish, who is the early contender for the pole, said he hopes to qualify in one of the first six positions in order to start the race in clean air.

Dan Wheldon picked up nearly two mph from his previous best, ending the day second on the speed chart with a lap at 225.636 mph. "Obviously, we were expecting the rain, so we had to utilize the track time we had as best we possibly could," Wheldon reported. "I definitely think we improved the race car. The rear end feels much more secure, which is good and the car is comfortable. We're still just working for a little bit more speed."

Kosuke Matsuura made a huge improvement from the first day of practice when he ran 221.435 mph. Today Matsuura jumped to 225.140 mph, third best of the day. "We struggled a little bit yesterday, but found the right direction today," said Matsuura. "Yesterday, the car was inconsistent, but I am very confident to drive the car today. I was able to go flat out for 25 laps on old tires."

On the first day of practice, Bryan Herta, who was ninth fastest yesterday, was only Andretti Green Racing driver to record a top-ten lap. The entire team improved today with four drivers in the top ten. Tony Kanaan and Bryan Herta held the fourth and fifth positions on the speed chart with Dario Franchitti ninth and Marco Andretti tenth. The team's fifth car, driven by team co-owner Michael Andretti was 14th on the day.

"We made progress today regarding speed, but we're still looking to make the car more comfortable," said Kanaan. "I would love to be better than we are now, but that's the way it is. We've got to work our way through it as a team and that's what we'll do."

While Hornish, Wheldon and Matsuura earned the top three positions today, their teammates weren't far off the mark. Hornish's Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves ended the day sixth with a lap at 224.258 mph. Matsuura's Fernandez Racing's stable mate Scott Sharp was seventh and Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon was eighth fastest.

Sharp, who has competed in the Dallara chassis at Homestead and Motegi this season, said the team is continuing to "learn the nuances of the car compared to the Panoz we ran in then past."

Jeff Simmons was involved in the only on track incident to date when he spun exiting Turn one. The car did a quarter spin off Turn one and slid low on the track before making slight contact with the inside guardrail. "I guess I just lost it coming out of Turn 1," said Simmons. "I was trying to get comfortable in the car and gain speed and go quicker each lap. It was fine until I got in the corner and started to release the car. Then I felt a twitch and then the rear end started to come around. When it started to slide, I thought I might get away with it and not hit the wall. Then a rear tire went flat, and as I tried to straighten the car up, I got the front end into the wall."

Simmons was unhurt and later returned to the track to continue with practice.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Marco Andretti , Kosuke Matsuura , Jeff Simmons , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing