Rookie Patrick Heads Honda Indy Pole Contenders Rookie Danica Patrick continues to impress at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and leads a pack of a half-dozen or more Honda-powered pole contenders on the eve of qualifying for the 89th running...
Rookie Patrick Heads Honda Indy Pole Contenders
Rookie Danica Patrick continues to impress at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and leads a pack of a half-dozen or more Honda-powered pole contenders on the eve of qualifying for the 89th running of the Indianapolis 500. Only Panther Racing's Tomas Scheckter has been faster around the 2.5-mile oval this week, in Friday's rain-shortened final practice day.
The fastest in Rookie Orientation Practice early this week, Patrick also led the speed charts on Thursday, the third of four official practice days held prior to qualifying. Patrick also became the first female racer to lead an Indianapolis practice day since Janet Guthrie in 1977.
Defending IndyCar Champion Tony Kanaan was next fastest for Honda, third overall, followed by 2004 Rookie of the Year Kosuke Matsuura, and Dan Wheldon, already a three-race winner this season. Rahal Letterman Racing's Vitor Meira and veteran Dario Franchitti made it six Hondas in the top seven.
Defending "500" race winner Buddy Rice, however, will miss out on first weekend qualifying after suffering back contusions and a mild concussion in a crash on Wednesday. Qualifying for the pole and first 11 starting positions runs begins Saturday at 1 p.m. EDT, with live television coverage on ABC/ESPN2/ESPN.
Danica Patrick (#16 Argent/Pioneer Rahal Letterman Racing Honda) second fastest in practice this week: "I didn't envision coming to Indianapolis for the first time and being one of the fastest cars leading up to qualifying. Knowing now whom I drive for and the quality of this team and with the success we had at Motegi [front-row qualify, fourth-place finish], I did come here thinking there was a realistic chance we would be pretty fast. Driving for a good team will bring out the best in you as a driver."