IRL: Motegi: Thursday practice report

CASTRONEVES LEADS OPENING DAY AT MOTEGI MOTEGI, Japan, Thursday, April 20, 2006 -- Helio Castroneves led the opening day of preparations for the Indy Japan 300, the only overseas event of the 2006 IRL IndyCar® Series season. Castroneves, ...

CASTRONEVES LEADS OPENING DAY AT MOTEGI

MOTEGI, Japan, Thursday, April 20, 2006 -- Helio Castroneves led the opening day of preparations for the Indy Japan 300, the only overseas event of the 2006 IRL IndyCar® Series season.

Castroneves, driver of the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Honda-powered Dallara, recorded a lap of 27.1937 seconds, 201.223 mph on the 1.5-mile oval

Andretti Green Racing's Tony Kanaan (27.3479, 200.088 mph and Marlboro Team Penske's Sam Hornish Jr. (27.3941, 199.751 mph) were second and third, respectively.

Hornish Jr. was involved in the day's only accident spinning his No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Honda-powered Dallara into the SAFER Barrier between Turns 3 and 4. Hornish was uninjured in the accident, but Hornish's team was forced to prepare its backup car.

Marlboro Pole Qualifying for the Indy Japan 300 is scheduled for 1:45 p.m. (EST) on April 1.

DAY 1 NOTES:

Panther Racing will have an new look for the Japan Indy 300 at Twin Ring Motegi. Network LIVE, one of Panther's associate sponsors, will be on the sidepods of the team's Honda-powered Dallara this weekend and will debut an orange and black livery. It will mark one of the few times the Panther car has not been primarily yellow. The team previously altered its design in 2003 to promote the movie Terminator 3. Last season the car was platinum for a select number of races -- including the 2005 Indianapolis 500 - when Pennzoil was promoting its Pennzoil Platinum Full Synthetic motor oil.

VITOR MEIRA (No. 4 Panther Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "Wherever we are on the racetrack, that orange Network LIVE car is going to be easy to pick out of a crowd. To be honest, regardless of what color the car is, I know it's going to be fast."

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Each IndyCar Series team is using a small vehicle this weekend instead of their standard pit carts. Area farmers donate the use of the vehicles each year and ask teams to place racing stickers on the vehicles. The teams that decorate their vehicles use the same vehicle year after year.

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INDYCAR SERIES POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It was a good starting session for Marlboro Team Penske. We found a little difficulty in the beginning, but Ron (Ruzewski), the engineer, and I were working until we found a good setup. We're very pleased with the result."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The car was very, very good and the track wasn't as good as it will be tomorrow, but it was a very good lap. (About limited practice time today): "It was going to be the same for everybody, but it looks like we got a lot more than the guys in the second session, so we shouldn't complain about it."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The car was pretty good. We were just trying to get everything worked out. Nobody has the opportunity to test here, so when you come here, you try to learn as much as you can in what little time that you get. It's unfortunate the accident happened on the lap after the fast lap. I just turned into (Turn) 3 and the back end came around. I'm not sure what happened. It's unfortunate. It's going to be a lot of work for us over the next couple days to get back to where we need to be."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 2 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It was a good run to be honest. The car was good straight out the box, and as a driver, that's all you can ask for. We'll carry on some of this momentum from today into tomorrow, and hopefully, that will translate into a good qualifying position."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It's great to be back here in Motegi. I love this track. The Delphi guys did a great job, and we came out with a pretty good starting setup. We were fairly careful with the conditions and pretty happy with the car. Although we did not get that much track time, we are in good shape to pick things up tomorrow."

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The 2006 IRL IndyCar Series continues with the Indy Japan 300 at midnight (EDT) on April 22 at Twin Ring Motegi. ESPN2 will telecast the race at Noon (EDT) on April 22. The race will be broadcast live on the IMS Radio Network beginning at 11:30 p.m. (EDT) on April 21. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 145 "IndyCar Racing" and www.indycar.com. The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Freedom 100 Friday, May 26 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast as part of ESPN2's Carb Day coverage on May 26.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Tony Kanaan , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske