IRL: Texas Friday practice makes perfect?

IRL: Texas Friday practice makes perfect?

FT WORTH, TX, June 6, 2003 - The 22 IndyCar Series drivers and teams had two opportunities to tune up for the Bombardier 500K at Texas Motor Speedway today. An early afternoon practice session was divided into two groups, with each having a ...

FT WORTH, TX, June 6, 2003 - The 22 IndyCar Series drivers and teams had two opportunities to tune up for the Bombardier 500K at Texas Motor Speedway today.

An early afternoon practice session was divided into two groups, with each having a 45-minute window in which to prep their cars. This afternoon, at 5:15pm the full field went out for a half-hour practice session, their final chance to take to the 1.5-mile 24-degree banked oval prior to the 7pm start of their 200-lap Saturday night dash.

Tony Kanaan's engineers at work.
Photo by Michael C. Johnson.
During the early afternoon session, Tony Kanaan was quickest in the #11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda at 217.884mph. Kenny Brack was second in his #15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Dallara/Honda at 217.478 while Al Unser Jr. took the third slot at 217.381mph, driving the #31 Corteco Dallara/Toyota. "The car is running great and we improved it in the draft," Unser said with a big smile. The only yellows were for track inspection.

In the second early afternoon group, Dan Wheldon was fastest in the #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda, followed by Jaques Lazier, subbing for the injured Airton Dare in A.J. Foyt's #5 Conseco Dallara/Toyota. Lazier was fitted for the car yesterday evening and just missed making a qualifying run by a scant five minutes.

"Right now I'm having a lot of fun," Lazier admitted. "I'm glad to help A.J. out in any way possible. This whole package, with the Toyota engine is a lot of fun for me and I just jumped into the car this morning like a sheep being fed to the wolves." Lazier's best morning lap was a 215.805mph tour, but he improved significantly to 217.535mph with a good tow in the late afternoon session.

Dare had successful surgery last night at Parkland Memorial Hospital and will remain there until Sunday, when he will be transported to Indianapolis for surgery to repair minor fractures in his right hand and foot. "Something broke and it just shot me into the wall," the 25-year-old Brazilian explained. "It only hurts when I move," he joked.

"I am very upset about what happened to Airton, but I'm glad he can recover from his injuries," said team owner Foyt. Dare's family will arrive in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area tomorrow to accompany him to Indianapolis.

Felipe Giaffone was fastest in the late afternoon and thus far this weekend, posting a 220.574mph lap in the #21 Hollywood Panoz G Force/Toyota fielded by Mo Nunn Racing. "Everybody is getting a big tow," Giaffone acknowledged. "Of course I had a huge one. The car's been good and I think we're running quick on our own. The car is good for the race," he said.

Giaffone, the Indy Racing League Bombardier Rookie of the Year in 2000 expects "a typical Texas race. It's all about tow. Our G Force was a little bit quicker for qualifying but I don't know how it will be in the race. Last year the Dallara chassis was quick in qualifying but a G Force won the race. With good equipment," he said, "this race is fun."

Tora Takagi, who teams with Giaffone on the Mo Nunn team brought his #12 Pioneer Panoz G Force/Toyota to second place in the late practice session at 219.916mph. Outside front row starter Scott Dixon was third in the #9 Team Target Panoz G Force/Toyota, followed by Bryan Herta's #27 Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda.

Kelley Racing garage area.
Photo by McQueeney.
The Toyota/Honda rivalry heated significantly this afternoon, as five Honda- powered cars busted into the top ten in practice. While polesitter Tomas Scheckter was fifth in the 310 Team Target Panoz G Force/Toyota, followed by Scott Sharp's #8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota, Honda runners occupied the next four slots.

Rookie Dan Wheldon took seventh, Kenny Brack was eighth prior to running off to serenade fans with his band, "Kenny Brack and the Subwoofers". Kanaan took ninth and rookie Roger Yasukawa, slowest in the first practice took tenth in the late afternoon. The Los Angeles resident had turned only 10 laps in the first session, hitting his stride with 53 later in the day.

The Chevrolet troops continue to hog the bottom of the time sheets. In the first practice session, Vitor Meira was fastest of the Bow-Tie Brigade for the #2 Menards Dallara squad at 214.146mph. In the later session, Meira was again the best Chevy runner at 214.729mph. Sarah Fisher continued to struggle in her #23 GMAC/AOL Dallara and, while 18th in the first session she was 22nd and last in the later timed practice. Sam Hornish Jr. was 20th and 19th respectively.

The temperatures changed only slightly from the first to second practices of the day, going from 73 degrees ambient and 108 track to 79 and 100 degrees, respectively in the later session. The wind decreased from 18mph in the first session to 10mph in the latter. Of course, when tomorrow's race tips off, conditions should be different still, although partly sunny skies have been predicted for race time.

Ms. Proffit's Thursday qualifying report

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Felipe Giaffone , Al Unser Jr. , Scott Sharp , Airton Daré , Jaques Lazier  , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Tora Takagi , Bryan Herta , Kenny Brack , Dan Wheldon , Roger Yasukawa , A.J. Foyt , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr. , Mo Nunn , Vitor Meira