IRL: Texas: Saturday practice report

HORNISH LEADS FINAL PRACTICE SESSION AT TEXAS FORT WORTH, Texas, Friday, June 9, 2006 -- Marlboro Pole Award winner Sam Hornish Jr., and Scott Dixon, led the final practice sessions as IRL IndyCar® Series teams continued preparations for the...


FORT WORTH, Texas, Friday, June 9, 2006 -- Marlboro Pole Award winner Sam Hornish Jr., and Scott Dixon, led the final practice sessions as IRL IndyCar® Series teams continued preparations for the Bombardier Learjet 500k at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway.

Hornish, driver of the No. 6 Marlboro Team Peanke Dallara/Honda/Firestone, recorded a lap of 24.4100 seconds, 214.584 mph in the final practice session before the June 10 race. Dixon, who will start fourth, led the day's earlier session with a lap of 214.020

The Bombardier Learjet 500k will be televised live by ESPN at 9 p.m. (EDT). The race will be shown immediately after ESPN's Original Entertainment special "Dan Wheldon's Race for Indy," which will be telecast at 8 p.m. (EDT) on ESPN.


Selected quotes from Danica Patrick's media availability:

DANICA PATRICK (No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Argent Dallara/Honda/Firestone): (About change to Dallara from Panoz): "The car has been really easy to drive. It has so much more grip than I'm used to. We haven't had any time to make it our own, and it's a bare stock Dallara. We are running a stone-stock Dallara. We need to figure things out and make it a comfortable race car. We had done everything we could with the Panoz. The last few years, it has been really uncomfortable in traffic. We had to go something that was able to win races, opposed to a car that just qualifies well. It had become an inferior car in race conditions. I think the car will be, hopefully, more comfortable to drive in traffic and in a race. The Panoz was difficult car to handle when other cars were around you. Sometimes the car would have no front grip, and sometimes it would have no rear grip, and it would want to spin out on you. It was really comfortable (on the track), yesterday."


Racing for Kids was recently honored for its fundraising efforts following Hurricane Katrina. The organization received the Alton Ochsner Spirit of Leadership Award for their contributions to the Ochsner Katrina Relief Fund. Racing for Kids® raised more than $30,000 for the hurricane relief effort.

The effort gained momentum during the nationally televised IndyCar Series event at Chicagoland Speedway last September. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing co-owner Robbie Buhl, national spokesperson for Racing for Kids, announced that the charity had established a special fund for the victims of Katrina and for the Ochsner Clinic and asked fans to call a toll-free and make donations. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing also posted the 800 number on its car during the race.

Racing for Kids is a national charity, which draws on the popularity of motorsports to bring attention and funding to the health care needs of children and child health institutions. Racing for Kids representatives have visited more than 15,000 sick children in more than 340 hospitals in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan and Australia.


GEICO, the fourth largest private passenger auto insurer in the United States, will sponsor the No. 51 Cheever Racing Honda-powered Dallara driven by Eddie Cheever Jr. in the Bombardier 500k on June 10 at Texas Motor Speedway.

EDDIE CHEEVER (No. 51 Cheever Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We are pleased to have GEICO on board with us at Texas Motor Speedway in what is always a fast-paced, exciting event."


Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage had a special greeting for IndyCar Series driver Eddie Cheever Jr. as the two passed near the Dallas Morning News Media Center earlier today.

Gossage told Cheever, who was involved in a controversy with rookie Marco Andretti, "Eddie, I could kiss you right now!"


#7 Herta will move to the back of the field after an engine change following the last practice session. Herta had qualified 11th.


Reigning IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon will be the subject of ESPN's "Faces of Sports" series this weekend. "Dan Wheldon's Race For Indy" which airs at 8 p.m. on June 10 follows Wheldon as he joins Target Chip Ganassi Racing through the 90th Indianapolis 500 in May.


The second Sam Hornish Jr. Celebrity Bowling Tournament raised $113,500 for the Texas Chapter of Speedway Children's Charities. Hosted by Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr., the event benefits more than 150 charitable organizations in North Texas. Included in the amount was a $25,000 donation from Hornish and donations from Roger Penske and Hornish's parents, Sam Sr. and Jo Ellen.

SAM HORNISH JR.: "This year was bigger and better than last year, so I'm really happy with how things have improved. I was particularly pleased to the see the broad range of celebrities that participated because it shows we're reaching people outside of the racing community. The highlight of the night, of course, is that we were able to raise more than $110,000 for Speedway Charities. I'm looking forward to next year's event and raising event more money."


The difference between the fastest and slowest qualifier is .5243 of a second -- the second closest field in IndyCar Series history. The closest qualifying field was .4696 of a second, set at Kentucky last year. That field was set by practice times.



SCOTT DIXON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): ". Our car seems pretty quick. We seem to have a pretty good combination. We just need to figure out how much grip we need to dial in and see how much the car falls off during a full stint." (About the race conditions): "I think the weather has been pretty consistent during the night. It doesn't drop off in temperature that much. It will probably be in the 80s or even 90 when we go. It's still going to be more. The sun dropping (below the stands) will help the track temperature a little more and that will help grip. In the last few stints, it gets very close because the cars get easier to drive."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "So far, the Marlboro Team Penske car has been looking good. The banking of the track is one thing and makes it less difficult to find speed. Even if your car is 1 mph slower, the draft can help you catch up and run the same speed as the leader. It's a different challenge. You keep the pedal to the metal and you have more guys around. You have to trust the guys around you to keep the show nice. Otherwise, you and others could get in a lot of trouble."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I don't think at 2 in the afternoon, that session has a lot of play on what happens tomorrow night at 8:30 pm once we are finally up and running. You try to just get out and mix it up in traffic. We did a little bit of that yesterday and thought we had a decent race car, then everyone starts to focus on qualifying. Now is the time, in these two sessions, where everyone really wants to be in traffic, wants to be behind other cars and wants to see if their car is consistent there. We're doing really well right now but we are also keeping in the back of our mind that conditions will change a couple times again before the race."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The Marlboro Team Penske car has been really good in and out of traffic since we got to Texas, and today was no different. Helio (Castroneves) also has been pretty quick, so hopefully we'll be able to work together during the race and pull away from the rest of the field. The big key to the race is going to be making it to the end. We know we have a good car, so we just need to stay out of trouble in order to be in contention for the win."


The 2006 IRL IndyCar Series continues with the Bombardier 500k at 9 p.m. (EDT) on June 10 at Texas Motor Speedway. The race will be televised live by ESPN and the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 145 "IndyCar Racing" and The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Liberty Challenge on July 1 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. ESPN2's coverage of the Corning will be televised at 2 p.m. (EDT) on June 8.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl , Scott Dixon , Dan Wheldon , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Roger Penske , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing