Teammates Robby Gordon and Greg Ray Step Up in Indy 500 Practice <pre> INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRACTICE DAY ...
Teammates Robby Gordon and Greg Ray Step Up in Indy 500 Practice
<pre> INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRACTICE DAY #3 FAST FIVE: Driver Entrant Engine Speed 1. Robby Gordon Team Menard Oldsmobile 223.120 mph 2. Al Unser Jr. Galles ECR Racing Oldsmobile 221.861 3. Greg Ray Team Menard Oldsmobile 221.735 4. Eddie Cheever Jr. Team Cheever Infiniti 221.506 5. Scott Harrington Neinhouse Mtrspts. Oldsmobile 221.397
</pre> Team Menard maintained a low profile in the first two days of practice for the Indianapolis 500, but today the reigning Indy Racing League champions went straight to the top of the speed chart with Oldsmobile power. Teammates Robby Gordon and Greg Ray shared Team Menard's #32 Conseco Oldsmobile Dallara and posted the first and third fastest laps respectively. In his first day behind the wheel of an Indy car in seven months, Gordon circled the 2.5-mile superspeedway in 40.337 seconds at an average speed of 223.120 mph. Ray, the defending IRL driver champion, was a heartbeat behind at 221.735 mph.
The powerful Menard team sandwiched Al Unser Jr., who posted the second fastest lap at 221.861 mph in Galles ECR Racing's Tickets.com Oldsmobile G-Force. Infiniti driver Eddie Cheever Jr. was fourth fastest at 221.506 mph, followed by 1999 IRL Rookie of the Year Scott Harrington at 221.397 in Neinhouse Motorsports' Oldsmobile Dallara.
Seven drivers bettered Sunday's fastest lap as clear skies and cool temperatures provided near-perfect conditions. Forty of the 42 cars on the track today used 3.5-liter Oldsmobile IRL Aurora V8 engines. A total of 1,779 laps were completed.
"We made a huge mistake last year," said Gordon, who gambled and lost on his car's fuel mileage while leading the closing laps of the 1999 Indy 500. "We were in a position to win the Indy 500, but we took too many chances. This year we're working on eliminating some of the variables. We're working together as a team and doing the best job we can for John Menard. He has definitely paid his dues - and I have, too. I believe I have the experience to win Indy.
"I was going to run The Winston on Friday," said Gordon, who competes full-time in the NASCAR stock car series. "John Menard asked that we focus 100 percent on the Indy 500. I think that's the right thing to do. We have the tools to qualify on the pole and to win the Indy 500.
"It's way too early to predict the pole speed," Gordon noted. "If it's 100 degrees on Saturday, I doubt we're going to run 222 mph. I know that Butch Meyer and the Team Menard engine department have a qualifying engine. In 65-degree weather, you might even see a 225 mph pole speed.
"I think Greg Ray and I both have a good opportunity to win," Gordon predicted, "but 500 miles is a long way to race."
Ganassi Racing teammates Jimmy Vasser and Juan Montoya made their first practice laps for the Indy 500, shaking down their Target Oldsmobile G-Force entries in anticipation of the arrival of the rest of the team after a CART race in Japan was postponed due to inclement weather. Vasser was 13th fastest and Montoya 19th.
A trio of short-track standouts - Jimmy Kite, Donnie Beechler, and Jason Leffler - posted Top 10 times. Sarah Fisher, 19, was the 14th fastest driver at 219.882.
Practice will continue through Friday, leading up to Pole Day qualifying on Saturday, May 20, and Bump Day on Sunday, May 21. The 84th running of the Indianapolis 500 is scheduled to start at noon EDT on Sunday, May 28.