IRL: Indy 500: Day six practice report

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, May 10, 2002 -- 2001 Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves was the leader of a stunning burst of speed during Fast Friday practice for the 86th Indianapolis 500, recording a top lap of 38.7785 seconds, 232.087 mph in the...

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, May 10, 2002 -- 2001 Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves was the leader of a stunning burst of speed during Fast Friday practice for the 86th Indianapolis 500, recording a top lap of 38.7785 seconds, 232.087 mph in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.

Castroneves was one of 13 drivers to exceed 230 mph today, the first laps above that barrier at the Speedway since 1996. It was the second day this week that he has led practice, as he also topped the speed charts Monday. Castroneves, who celebrated his 27th birthday today, enters Pole Day presented by Marsh qualifying Saturday as one of the favorites to win the MBNA Pole.

"We did talk about the pole and also how we want to be in the race," Castroneves said. "It's great when you start achieving the speeds that are competitive. But I'm still thinking it's going to be five guys, five or six guys, that are going to be competing for pole position. I hope I'll be one of them."

Qualifying for the MBNA Pole starts at 11 a.m. (EST) Saturday, with practice beginning at 8 a.m. The No. 30T 310 Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone driven by rookie George Mack will be the first car in the qualifying line.

Robbie Buhl was second in practice today at 38.8596, 231.603 in the No. 24 Team Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold G Force/Infiniti/Firestone. Rookie Tomas Scheckter was third at 38.8601, 231.600 in the No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.

Bruno Junqueira was fourth at 38.8725, 231.526 in the No. 33 Target Chip Ganassi Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone. Junqueira was the first to break the 230-mph barrier today. 1998 Indy winner Eddie Cheever Jr. rounded out the top five at 38.9810, 230.882 in the No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone as Infiniti-powered drivers took three of the top five spots.

Other drivers faster than 230 mph were 2001 IRL Rookie of the Year Felipe Giaffone, reigning IRL champion Sam Hornish Jr., two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr., Tony Kanaan, Raul Boesel, Gil de Ferran, 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner Kenny Brack and 1996 IRL co-champion Scott Sharp.

Fast Friday definitely lived up to its name, as only three drivers had topped 229 mph before today. The fastest lap entering today's practice, conducted under sunny skies, was 229.808 by Laurent Redon on Tuesday.

Rookies Max Papis and Alex Barron were unhurt and cleared to drive after separate accidents this afternoon.

Papis spun in Turn 1 and made contact with the outside retaining wall and part of the SAFER barrier in the No. 53 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. Barron spun in Turn 1 and made contact with the SAFER barrier with the rear of the No. 44 Rayovac Blair Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.

This was the busiest day of practice so far, with 36 drivers in 46 cars turning 1,692 laps.

The 86th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for 11 a.m. (EST) Sunday, May 26.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Felipe Giaffone , Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Robbie Buhl , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Bruno Junqueira , Raul Boesel , Max Papis , Tony Kanaan , Kenny Brack , Alex Barron , Laurent Redon , George Mack , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing