IRL: Indy 500: AGR's Andretti Opening Day report

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 4, 2003) -- Team 7-Eleven driver Michael Andretti opened his final "month of May" at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday by posting the fifth fastest speed in a rain-shortened afternoon practice session. Andretti...

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 4, 2003) -- Team 7-Eleven driver Michael Andretti opened his final "month of May" at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday by posting the fifth fastest speed in a rain-shortened afternoon practice session.

Andretti wheeled the #7 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone around the 2.5- mile oval at a speed of 227.461 miles per hour (39.5672 seconds) in preparation for a run at the pole on Saturday. The 13-time Indianapolis 500 starter turned six laps in his backup machine in race trim early in the session before switching to his primary ride for 21 additional laps.

Scott Sharp posted the fastest speed of the day at 228.764 miles per hour (39.3419 seconds). Helio Castroneves was second quick at 228.088 miles per hour (39.4585 seconds), while Tora Takagi was third fastest, posting a best lap of 227.884 miles per hour (39.4937 seconds). Andretti's rookie teammate Dan Wheldon was fourth on the day in the Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone running a fast lap of 227.716 miles per hour (39.5230 seconds). Andretti's other teammate, Robby Gordon finished the day with the 25th fastest speed at 220.636 mph (40.7912 seconds) in the Archipelago/Motorola entry.

Practice continues tomorrow at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for Saturday's "pole day" qualifying session. The 87th running of the "500" is slated to go green at 12 p.m. EDT and will be aired live on ABC Sports.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI , #7 TEAM 7-ELEVEN DALLARA/HONDA/FIRESTONE:

"From the driver's standpoint, there wasn't a whole lot. The track was so good. It was really good. From an owner's standpoint, I'm real happy with how organized everything was. I think we're really ready to practice.

"There were a couple of moves out there today that probably shouldn't have happened. It's a little too early to be doing that."

TONY COTMAN , TEAM MANAGER, TEAM 7-ELEVEN:

DO YOU APPROACH THE OPENING DAY OF THE MONTH OF MAY DIFFERENT THAN A TEST DAY AT SOME OTHER POINT IN THE SPRING?

"It's hard sometimes because the track temperature is obviously a lot different and the weather conditions are a little different than when we tested. But, our goal or approach to opening day is to relax and pretty much set the tone for the month. If you can come out of it relatively comfortable like we did today, it's a good start to the month."

TODAY WAS RELATIVELY COLD, COMPARED TO THE WEATHER YOU COULD SEE LATER IN THE MONTH--CAN YOU GAIN SOME THINGS FROM A DAY LIKE THIS?

"We definitely put that into our database for down the road in case we do come across it again. You never know -- maybe we'll come across it again on qualifying day and maybe it will be like this all week. And if it is, it is. You'll see some really fast times.

"But, for sure -- we'll put it in the back of our minds. We might have to draw on it down the road."

- AGR -

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Tora Takagi , Dan Wheldon , Jim Beam