IRL: Kanaan puts up big numbers at Indy

IRL: Kanaan puts up big numbers at Indy

Speeds went up incrementally in the second full day of practice for the 89th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race this afternoon, but as is usually the case, those big numbers came with assistance around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway ...

Speeds went up incrementally in the second full day of practice for the 89th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race this afternoon, but as is usually the case, those big numbers came with assistance around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.

Tony Kanaan.
Photo by Jim Haines - IRL.
Tony Kanaan secured the $2500 check presented each day by Argent Mortgage to the fastest driver on-circuit, as the 2004 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series champion used his 31st of only 47 total laps to put up an eye- opening 227.453mph lap in his #11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda at about 4:30PM EST.

Kanaan benefited by following the two Newman Haas Racing Team Centrix Panoz/Honda cars of Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais, who were running in tandem at the time. "I was trying to get around by myself but there they were," he explained.

"The track is a little different" since being repaved, Kanaan admitted. "It's got a lot of grip that makes the racing line much wider. We really weren't trimmed out completely and there's a lot to do" before MBNA Pole Day on Saturday.

"I don't think anyone is solid in the field yet," Kanaan continued. "I'd love to be on the front row for sure but if I don't make it, I'll probably say it doesn't matter," he laughed.

Danica Patrick turned the second quickest lap of the day and month when she sped around the Brickyard oval at 226.944mph in her #16 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz/Honda.

Vitor Meira.
Photo by Jim Haines - IRL.
Patrick and teammate Vitor Meira, who logged the eighth best speed today in his #17 Menards/Johns Manville Panoz/Honda will have to carry the load for Rahal Letterman Racing as teammate Buddy Rice has been barred from qualifying until the second weekend of time trials for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing after crashing early in practice, suffering a severe back contusion and mild concussion.

Team co-owner Bobby Rahal was circumspect about the change in fortune. "We've got to make sure Buddy's all right. At this point in time, he's sore, frustrated, angry and disappointed. He'll calm down," Rahal believes, "and we'll keep him calm. I think his biggest issue will be getting in and out of the car. It's going to be painful."

The #15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz/Honda Rice crashed had an 80g hit to the SAFER barrier at Turn 2 and Rice's Delphi earpiece showed an impact over 100g's according to Rahal. The monocoque was not damaged, he said, nor was the engine, but Buddy's crash did damage his gearbox.

Third for the day, Scott Dixon returned to his familiar #9T Target Panoz/Toyota and on his final, 66th lap logged a lap at 226.816mph. Team manager Mike Hull indicated the team was simply getting "some help from Toyota" as they attempted to understand the nuances of the Dallara chassis with the Toyota engine the team currently uses. "We just want to know where we stand."

Dario Franchitti, working primarily on race setup today was fourth in the #27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda from the Andretti Green Racing stables that also has Kanaan, Dan Wheldon and Bryan Herta on the team.

"Each of us is getting a little bit closer to where we need to be. I think it's such a strange track," the Scot explained, "the weather affects it and the wind affects it. It's a big challenge." Franchitti's best, on his 36th of 46 total laps was 226.253mph.

Scott Sharp only kept his #8 Delphi/Fernandez Panoz/Honda on the track for three and a half hours today, ending up fifth on the speed charts with his 28th lap (of 31) at 226.159mph. "We made some big changes that will really work for the whole month. All the big times are coming with tows, but we are posting some solid times on our own. It was another strong day for us."

Richie Hearn.
Photo by Dan Boyd - IRL.
Richie Hearn led the Bow-Tie Brigade in his #70 Meijer/Coca-Cola Panoz/Chevrolet with the sixth-best lap of the day at 226.090mph on his 66th of 67 laps. "The track has a lot of grip," Hearn said. "I think it will help make the field tighter and make qualifying more exciting."

Dan Wheldon, quickest yesterday in the #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda was relegated to seventh today, making his best tour on lap #2 of 61. "We did some long runs today and tried to get a feel for what the car is doing. We had full fuel in it," Wheldon noted, "and it's okay. From my standpoint, it was a good baseline" that gave him a speed of 225.849mph.

Meira's quick tour on his 29th of 45 laps at 225.714mph gave the Brazilian eighth for the day. More concerned about Rice than his own accomplishments on the track, Meira still thinks his part of the RLR team is "moving right now as we had planned with our qualifying program. Of course Buddy's accident hurts us a little, but our engineering staff is very good with examining all the items we need to test."

Tomas Scheckter was ninth in the #4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevy at 225.709mph yet disappointed when severe thunderstorms entering the area put an early stop to practice. "We didn't get as much running in as we would have liked but we're just continuing to gather data for the race and for Saturday [qualifying]."

1996 Indy 500 champ Buddy Lazier, running a Byrd Brothers/Panther Dallara/Chevy rounded out the top ten on his 78th of 80 laps, posting 225.632mph. "The day went really good; the car was awesome and I have a great engineer in Andy Brown. We did a lot of running during the hot part of the day and we're just getting information now," he grinned.

After having difficulties with a brand new car on Tuesday that including getting his seat properly fit, Adrian Fernandez rebounded with the 11th best time of the day. Glad to be back in the driver's seat for the first time since a December test at Homestead-Miami Speedway Fernandez "struggled a little bit and the car is still not quite there."

Bruno Junqueira.
Photo by Dana Garrett - IRL.
Bruno Junqueira, the 2002 polesitter here was 12th in his #36 Team Centrix Panoz/Honda, "quite happy with our progress." Sam Hornish Jr.'s day ended a wee bit early when he spun the #6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota on the warmup lane in Turn 1 without contact. "I'm satisfied with how the car is handling," he said.

Kosuke Matsuura was 13th with the #55 Panasonic/ARTA Panoz/Honda despite only having logged nine laps before being caught up in the Buddy Rice impact. Helio Castroneves took 14th with the #3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota after "trying different things that unfortunately didn't work!"

A total of 30 car/driver combinations were on-circuit during the afternoon, which was, for the most part hot, cloudy and muggy before rain squalls prematurely ended practice. There were a total of 1403 laps logged for the day.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Buddy Lazier , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Bruno Junqueira , Adrian Fernandez , Bobby Rahal , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Richie Hearn , Dan Wheldon , Sébastien Bourdais , Buddy Rice , Kosuke Matsuura , Mike Hull , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick , Vitor Meira
Teams Team Penske