IRL: Indy500: Oldmobile final practice day report

Greg Ray saved his best for last, running the fastest lap of the event in the seventh and final full day of practice for the 84th Indianapolis 500. Ray, the reigning IRL champion, toured the 2.5-mile oval at 223.948 mph in Team Menard's...

Greg Ray saved his best for last, running the fastest lap of the event in the seventh and final full day of practice for the 84th Indianapolis 500. Ray, the reigning IRL champion, toured the 2.5-mile oval at 223.948 mph in Team Menard's Conseco Oldsmobile Dallara, surpassing the mark set by Scott Sharp at 229.936 mph on Tuesday.

Two-car teams claimed four of the Fast Five spots on a cool and overcast day in Indianapolis. Stablemates Jeff Ward (222.949 mph) and Eliseo Salazar (222.921 mph) posted the second and fourth fastest laps respectively in A.J. Foyt's Oldsmobile G-Force entries. Ray's teammate Robby Gordon was fifth on the speed chart at 222.901 mph. Kelley Racing's Scott Sharp ended the day in dead heat with Ward for the second spot on the list at 222.949 mph.

"I believe that a lot of these guys are capable of 225 mph laps," said Ray. "It's about getting the right setup at the right time with the right weather. If you nail it in qualifying, you're going to be smiling - and if you miss it, you might be 20th. It's going to be bloody tight.

"I was just trying to post a time and get a feel for the car driving totally flat out in all four corners," Ray explained. "The car is very close now for these conditions - but if conditions change, we're going to have to go back to our notes. When the car is set up right, we're able to go as fast as we did at many race tracks last year with four-liter motors.

"The one thing different about this track is the long straightaways," Ray continued. "We're able to trim the cars out here, and you can take advantage of the draft. One of the key issues at rhythm. You have to time the passes coming off of the corners."

Forty-eight cars were on the track today, with 46 of them using Oldsmobile IRL Aurora V8 engines. The three fastest cars represented three independent Oldsmobile engine builders: Team Menard (Greg Ray), Roush Technologies (Jeff Ward), and Comptech (Scott Sharp). Jimmy Kite, sixth on the speed chart in Blueprint Racing's Oldsmobile G-Force at 222.700 mph, continued to impress trackside observers. Kite's Oldsmobile engines are prepared by Sonny Meyer - the son of three-time Indy 500 winner Louis Meyer and the father of Team Menard engine wizard Butch Meyer.

The field of 33 starters will be determined by four-lap qualifying runs on Saturday and Sunday. Pole Day will be televised live from start to finish on Saturday, May 20, on ESPN (noon-2:30 p.m. EDT), ABC (2:30-4:30 p.m.), and ESPN2 (4:30-7 p.m.).

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Greg Ray , Eliseo Salazar , Jeff Ward , Scott Sharp , Jimmy Kite , A.J. Foyt