IRL: Laurent Redon tops day three Indy speed charts

INDIANAPOLIS (May 7, 2002) - Speeds edged closer to the 230 mile per hour mark as Laurent Redon topped the day's speed chart with a lap at 229.808 mph. It was the first time an Infiniti-powered car topped the charts this year as the fastest on ...

INDIANAPOLIS (May 7, 2002) - Speeds edged closer to the 230 mile per hour mark as Laurent Redon topped the day's speed chart with a lap at 229.808 mph. It was the first time an Infiniti-powered car topped the charts this year as the fastest on Sunday and Monday, Scott Sharp and Helio Castroneves, both use Chevrolet engines prepared by Ilmor Engineering.

It was also the first time a rookie driver set the fastest lap of the day since Juan Montoya accomplished the feat on Carb Day in 2000.

Redon set his best lap during the last hour of practice when temperatures are cool and winds are diminished. "We had a little tow," said Redon, "but I'm pretty sure we are close to the best we can do. I don't know if I can go faster, but I'll try. I'm sure we have to be faster to be on pole, so it's something we have to work on."

Bruno Junqueira, who's been in the top five all three days, was second fastest at 228.566 mph. Junqueira was fourth fastest on Monday and fifth fastest yesterday. "I was really hoping to be the fastest out there today, but I'll take second for now," said Junqueira, who sat atop the speed charts as the last hour of practice started. "As a driver, I always want to be the fastest guy out there every day."

Sharp and Castroneves were third and fourth fastest, respectively. Both drivers improved upon their previous best with Sharp recording a lap over 228 mph.

P.J. Jones shaved over two-tenths of a second from his previous best and ran consistent laps in the 226 range before losing control of his car in turn one in the day's only incident.

The rear of Jones' car made contact with the SAFER barrier then slid across the track making hard contact with the inside guardrail. Jones was assisted from the car by safety crews and sat on the rear wheel of the car before he was taken by ground transportation to Methodist Hospital. Jones, who was awake and alert at the scene of the accident, will undergo precautionary X-rays.

Eddie Cheever was fifth fastest followed by P.J. Jones, and Sam Hornish. Rounding out the day's top ten were Mark Dismore, Buddy Lazier and Al Unser Jr.

Al Unser Jr's lap from Sunday, at 226.885 mph, still stands as his best of the event. Today he managed 226.4 after turning a total of 26 laps in the 7T car.

Notes from the 86th Indianapolis 500:

Start of practice was delayed until after 2:00 p.m. today as safety crews addressed a situation involving "weepers" at the famous Speedway. While most of the track was high and dry, there were several areas where moisture seeped through the pavement making the track unsafe. At one point, IRL's Vice President of Operations, Brain Barnhart summoned veteran driver Al Unser Jr. to turn three to survey the problem.

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58 cars are at the Speedway and 55 have passed technical inspection. For the month, there have been 47 cars and 35 drivers on the track completing 2,884 laps.

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Tomas Scheckter's will turn his first laps of event on Wednesday after serving a four-day suspension for "unsportsmanlike conduct" stemming from an on track incident at Nazareth Speedway. Scheckter spent part of today's practice session sitting in the turn three grandstands with Indy Racing League Driver Consultant Al Unser Sr. and his nephew Johnny Unser.

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Robby Gordon did not practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today as he continues preparations for the Coca-Cola 600 at the Lowe's Motor Speedway.

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Scott Harrington shook down the No. 37T entry of John DeVries after DeVries complained of a "huge push." Harrington managed to go 208 mph in ten laps while DeVries had recorded a best of 214.727 after 18 laps.

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It was announced today that Arie Luyendyk Jr. would compete in the inaugural season of the Infiniti Pro Series, driving the No. 5 entry of Luyendyk Racing.

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Donnie Beechler was offered a ride by A.J. Foyt Racing but turned it down. "Number one, I'm not retiring," said Beechler. "I'm pursuing every opportunity."

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Former Formula One winner Johnny Herbert took his first official practice laps around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today. Herbert, who missed the first two days of practice while testing for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, turned eight laps, ending the day 34th on the speed chart.

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