Indianapolis, IN, Friday, May 26, 2006- With the clock ticking away the final moments until Sunday's start of the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500, Target Chip Ganassi Racing made its final adjustments to the their Target race cars during Carb...
Indianapolis, IN, Friday, May 26, 2006- With the clock ticking away the final moments until Sunday's start of the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500, Target Chip Ganassi Racing made its final adjustments to the their Target race cars during Carb Day final practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon were once again at the top of the timing sheets, posting the third (219.992 mph) and fourth (219.847 mph) fastest laps of the day as has been the case for most of the month of May.
Wheldon will take his place on the front row in third spot and is looking forward to defending his Indianapolis 500 win in a Target Chip Ganassi Race car.
"It is definitely a competitive car on its own," said Wheldon. "It is lacking a little bit of firm grip but I definitely think the car is good. I'm really very excited about race day. I'm happy to have won this race once because some of the best drivers in the world have never won here. But to have all the pieces in place to have a chance to win it a second time is very exciting. I know it will certainly be a good show for the fans."
While rainy and cold conditions dominated much of the month of practice, IndyCar teams were reworking their set ups to allow for a race day forecast of very warm and humid temperatures similar to those in Friday's final practice.
"The conditions today were a lot closer to what we need" said Dixon who will take his place on the inside of row two in fourth spot for his fourth career Indy 500 start. "For me, the car was a lot better because I didn't like the car on Sunday. I was struggling a lot, especially in traffic. We made some major changes to the setup. The car felt pretty good. It is nice to know we finally practiced in the condition that will be somewhat similar to Sunday. The thing is everybody loses a bunch of grip when it's hot. It is going to make it harder on the tires. It will make it harder over a long stint. The problem now is we get such good fuel mileage with the Hondas the tires don't seem to last as long as they need to."
Front Row Start for TCGR -It will be a front row start for Target Chip Ganassi Racing at the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 as defending race winner and reigning IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon set the third fastest average lap speed (227.338 mph) in Pole Day Qualifying. This will be Wheldon's second time on the front row in four career starts at Indy. He'll share the front row with Pole sitter Sam Hornish Jr. and his Penske teammate Helio Castroneves.
Target teammate Scott Dixon will be close by on the grid in fourth spot, equaling his best Indy 500 start as rookie in 2003.
Target's third and fourth place starting positions at the Indy 500 are the best since Bruno Junqueira's Pole winning performance for the team in 2002 (finished 31). Juan Montoya and Jimmy Vasser qualified second and seventh on their way to the Target Team's first Indianapolis 500 victory in 2000, with Montoya as the winner and teammate Vasser finishing seventh.
Other front row starts for Target include Eddie Cheever's second place starting spot in 1992 (finished 4th) with teammate Arie Luyendyk starting fourth on the grid (finished 15th due to contact). The following year, Arie Luyendyk had the Pole position for the Target team and finished second.
Flair Apparent -- Dan Wheldon, defending race winner, will be sporting a little more flair than usual. Known for wearing white race shoes, already rare among drivers, Wheldon is stepping it up a notch by sporting silver and gold race shoes for the Indy 500. His race helmet is also sure to turn some heads as he will forgo his Indy 500 tribute helmet that features a checkered flag and the yard of bricks and will instead be wearing a flat black Bell helmet.
For "Shorty"- Scott Dixon will pay tribute to his grandfather who passed away this past month with a simple "In memory of Shorty" decal on the back of his helmet.
"Four Wheel Drive" - Those with a penchant for numerology might examine the number four (4) in regards to Scott Dixon:
* Heading towards the Indianapolis 500 Dixon is fourth in the IndyCar championship
* The Indianapolis 500 will be the fourth race of the 2006 IndyCar season.
* Dixon will line up on the grid at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the fourth time in his career.
* For the 2003 Indianapolis 500, on his way to the IndyCar Series title, Dixon qualified fourth as a rookie.
* In 2002, Dixon drove the no. 44 Target car.
* Fellow New Zealander, Denis Hulme won rookie of the year at Indianapolis in 1967 with a fourth place. The following year he finished fourth yet again.
* Only four other New Zealanders have ever participated in the Indy 500; Denis Hulme, Graham McRae, Chris Amon and Bruce McLaren but only the first two ever raced in the 500 event.
* In the first practice session on May 9th, Dixon was, yes, fourth-quickest and if you really want to get technical, add the date left-to-right 9.5.2006 then add the total 22 together and, it comes to four.
* In the second practice session on May 10th, Dixon was eight quickest. (2 x 4)
* On Day 3, Dixon was once again fourth fastest in practice.
* Dixon added another number "four" as he was the fourth quickest qualifier on Pole Day and will start the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 from fourth spot on the grid.