IRL: Indy500: Oldsmobile driver top the charts again on Thursday

Teammates Jimmy Vasser and Juan Montoya staked out the top two spots on the speed chart on the sixth day of practice for the 84th Indianapolis 500. In spite of swirling winds and an ominous weather forecast, the only lightning bolts spotted...

Teammates Jimmy Vasser and Juan Montoya staked out the top two spots on the speed chart on the sixth day of practice for the 84th Indianapolis 500. In spite of swirling winds and an ominous weather forecast, the only lightning bolts spotted at Indianapolis Motor Speedway today were painted on the sidepods of Ganassi Racing's red-hot Target Oldsmobile G-Force Indy cars.

Vasser became the sixth different driver in six days to enjoy the view from the top. His 221.681 mph lap was slightly slower than the fastest times on previous days, but high humidity and "heavy air" hampered the performance of the winged Indy cars on the 2.5-mile superspeedway. Montoya, the fastest driver in yesterday's rain-shortened time trials, ran 221.555 mph to claim the second spot. Robby McGehee, who succeeded 1999 Indy 500 polewinner Arie Luyendyk in Treadway Racing's No. 5 Oldsmobile G-Force, was third fastest at 220.964. Kelley Racing teammates Mark Dismore and Scott Sharp rounded out the Top Five in their Oldsmobile Dallaras.

"This is still the biggest motor race in the world," said Vasser after his run. "From the top of the team on down, we are really focused and excited to be here. We're working very hard.

"We were out there the whole time in the wind today because we had things to do," he noted. "We would rather not run in the wind - but it could be windy on race day. That's the approach we take when we test."

"You get a tow here or a draft there and suddenly everyone wants to know what you're doing," explained team owner Chip Ganassi. "It's not like that at all. We have a very methodical approach to what we're doing this week. You have to have your act together quickly here. In years past, you could run your race motor, take it apart, and then bring it back two weeks later. We don't have that luxury of time any more."

Montoya's comments were succinct: "I just drive the car as fast as I can. It's simple."

Oldsmobile IRL Aurora V8 engines prepared by Comptech Machine of Eldorado Hills, Calif., powered the five fastest drivers today. Thirty-seven of the 39 cars on the track today used Oldsmobile engines.

The Ganassi Racing duo has adapted quickly from the turbocharged motors used in the CART series to the naturally aspirated engines that power IRL race cars. "There are definitely more similarities than there are differences between the cars," said Vasser. "When you're driving around a corner, you're trying to get the car balanced and smooth, no matter what you're driving."

After a final day of practice on Friday, qualifying for the Indy 500 pole will begin at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 20.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby McGehee , Arie Luyendyk , Mark Dismore , Jimmy Vasser , Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing