IRL: Patrick sets early pace at Twin Ring Motegi

Danica Patrick set the pace at Twin Ring Motegi after trading the top spot on the speed chart with Kosuke Matsuura late in the final practice session. Patrick turned in her best time of 26.9585 seconds just before the session was...

Danica Patrick set the pace at Twin Ring Motegi after trading the top spot on the speed chart with Kosuke Matsuura late in the final practice session. Patrick turned in her best time of 26.9585 seconds just before the session was checkered.

After setting the third fastest lap in the morning session, Patrick wasted little time in the afternoon session, heading straight to the top of the field with a lap close to the 27 second mark.

During the waning minutes of the session the large screen televisions at Twin Ring Motegi zoomed in to display the top of the scoring pylon, which proudly showed the number 55 of Japanese driver Matsuura.

But Patrick's final run put her back atop the speed chart. She was the only driver to break 27 second barrier at 26.9585.

Matsuura, who was second fastest, said "I couldn't get a good result in the morning session but the car's running great all day. I am satisfied with the setup and I could run pretty well alone so I want to run in traffic during the practice session tomorrow."

Helio Castroneves was third followed by fellow Brazilian Tony Kanaan. "The weekend has started out the same way that it ended for me last year," said Castroneves. "The car seemed to be very consistent. The conditions were very tough this morning, especially since I was in the first group. The track was very green, so I had to be very careful. After that Team Penske decided to take it easy and make the car work for the conditions, so far we've done that."

Dan Wheldon was fifth and Marco Andretti was sixth fastest, giving Andretti Green Racing three cars in the top six.

Vitor Meira was involved in the only on track incident of the day when he lost control of his Panther Racing Delphi car exiting Turn two. The car wiggled twice before Meira lost the handle, spun 180 degrees and backed into the SAFER Barrier. "I don't know what happened," said Meira. "It was only my second lap. The thing just turned around on me."

Meira was checked and released from the infield care center. He participated in the afternoon session where he was 16th fastest.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Marco Andretti , Kosuke Matsuura , Danica Patrick , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske