IRL: Indy 500: Day three practice report

Wheldon reaches 231 to continue youth movement at Indy. INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, May 6, 2003 -- Dan Wheldon became the second consecutive rookie to lead a practice day for the 87th Indianapolis 500, turning the fastest lap of the month, 38.9429 ...

Wheldon reaches 231 to continue youth movement at Indy.

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, May 6, 2003 -- Dan Wheldon became the second consecutive rookie to lead a practice day for the 87th Indianapolis 500, turning the fastest lap of the month, 38.9429 seconds, 231.108 mph, on May 6 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Wheldon's top lap in the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone came just minutes after practice opened at noon (EDT), and no other driver could top it in the nearly seven hours of practice afterward despite ideal track conditions.

Practice resumes at noon (EDT) Wednesday as the countdown to Pole Day on Saturday gets more intense. Despite the fast lap today, Wheldon isn't making any bold predictions for MBNA Pole glory and the accompanying $100,000 bonus.

"I think being quick today is no reflection of how qualifying is going to be, but it is good for the Klein Tools/Jim Beam team to be up there," Wheldon said. "We are still working on our set program, as are our other three cars, and we gather the data at the end of the day and fine-tune our program for the following day.

"The Andretti Green Racing team is keeping me on an even keel, and even though we are setting some fast speeds, we are still focused on the job at hand, and we are looking forward to a good day tomorrow."

Gil de Ferran was second fastest at 38.9824, 230.873 in the No. 6T Marlboro Team Penske Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, while 2002 Indianapolis 500 Bank One co-Rookie of the Year Tomas Scheckter third at 38.9909, 230.823 in the No. 10T Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone.

Scheckter's teammate, Indianapolis 500 rookie Scott Dixon, was fourth at 39.0496, 230.476 in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. Michael Andretti, Wheldon's team owner and teammate, rounded out the top five at 39.0598, 230.416 in the No. 7 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

"Dan has done a super job for us, not just today but ever since he started with us," Andretti said. "He provides tremendous feedback regarding his car, and he drives as if he has way more experience than he actually has. He knows how to go fast, and he knows when to go fast. It's been great having Dan as a teammate at Andretti Green Racing.

"I would say this was a real encouraging day today."

IRL IndyCarTM Series standout team Andretti Green had three cars in the top eight. Tony Kanaan was eighth at 39.1485, 229.894 in his first laps of the month in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Kanaan was cleared to drive Monday, recovered from a broken left arm suffered in a crash during the Indy Japan 300 on April 13 at Motegi, Japan.

Tora Takagi led practice Monday with a lap of 39.2980, 229.019 in the No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone to start the youth movement atop the time sheets. He was seventh today at 39.1067, 230.140.

It was the speediest day of practice by far this month. Wheldon led seven drivers past the 230-mph mark, the first time that barrier was crossed this May.

Most of the fast laps were turned in the first hour of practice. Conditions were ideal, with partly cloudy skies, an air temperature of 68 degrees, track temperature of 96 degrees and calm winds.

The first full day of practice -- rain and wet track conditions shortened the first two days -- was busy, as 37 cars turned 1,818 laps.

Shigeaki Hattori became the first driver to crash during practice this month, hitting the outside retaining wall between Turns 1 and 2 midway through the afternoon.

Hattori climbed from his No. 5 EPSON A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone after the crash and was admitted to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis with a concussion and fractured finger. He was awake and alert and undergoing tests.

Hattori's car wiggled in Turn 1 and then did a quarter-spin exiting the turn, hitting the outside retaining wall with the rear of the car. The car then slid across the track and into the infield grass, hitting the inside guardrail before stopping near the entrance of Turn 2.

A limited number of reserved-seat Race Day tickets for the Indianapolis 500 remain available. General admission and reserved tickets for practice, qualifications and Race Day can be purchased on the World Wide Web via www.imstix.com or by calling the IMS Ticket Office at (800) 822-INDY or (317) 492-6700.

-ims-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Shigeaki Hattori , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Tora Takagi , Dan Wheldon , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Jim Beam , Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing