IRL: Texas: Thursday practice report

DIXON TOPS OPENING DAY OF PRACTICE AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY FORT WORTH, Texas, Thursday, June 7, 2007 -- Scott Dixon, driving the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, topped the overall speed chart (214.164 mph; 24.4579 ...

DIXON TOPS OPENING DAY OF PRACTICE AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

FORT WORTH, Texas, Thursday, June 7, 2007 -- Scott Dixon, driving the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, topped the overall speed chart (214.164 mph; 24.4579 seconds) in the two practice sessions (one each during the late afternoon and early evening) in preparation for the Bombardier Learjet 550k at Texas Motor Speedway.

IndyCar Series points leader Dario Franchitti was second (214.138; 24.4609 in the first session) and Andretti Green Racing teammate Tony Kanaan (214.072) was third. There's a lone practice session June 8 preceding AAMCO Transmissions pole qualifying at 7 p.m. (ET).

"We had a chance to work on a few things today and the Team 7-Eleven car responded very well to the changes we made," said Kanaan, the winner June 3 at The Milwaukee Mile. "The evening session was helpful because it was similar to how we expect the conditions to be on race day."

Twenty drivers totaled 1,498 laps with one incident. Milka Duno, driving the No. 23 CITGO car for SAMAX Motorsport, made contact with the inside retaining wall exiting Turn 2. Duno was checked and cleared to drive, and she participated in the evening session.

DAY 1 NOTEBOOK:

This is the 18th IndyCar Series event at the Texas Motor Speedway. Helio Castroneves is the defending race winner. Gil de Ferran holds the qualifying record under the current track measurement with a lap of 23.5031 seconds, 222.864 mph set in October 2003.

Previous winners at Texas expected to compete in the Bombardier Learjet 500k are: Scott Sharp (June 2000, June 2001), Sam Hornish Jr. (October 2001, September 2002), Tony Kanaan (June 2004), Helio Castroneves (October 2004, June 2006) and Tomas Scheckter (2005).

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Five Indianapolis 500 champions are expected to participate in the Bombardier Learjet 550: Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002), Buddy Rice (2004), Dan Wheldon (2005), Sam Hornish Jr. (2006) and Dario Franchitti (2007).

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Five IndyCar Series champions are scheduled to participate in the Bombardier Learjet 550: Scott Sharp (1996 co-champion), Sam Hornish Jr. (2001, 2002, 2006), Scott Dixon (2003), Tony Kanaan (2004) and Dan Wheldon (2005).

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Milka Duno (SAMAX Motorsport) is the only Bombardier Rookie of the Year candidate expected to compete in the Bombardier Learjet 550k. Duno leads the Bombardier Rookie of the Year point standings over Phil Giebler (Playa Del Racing) 26-10.

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Drivers entered in the Bombardier Learjet 550k have combined for 78 IndyCar Series victories, 75 IndyCar Series pole positions and 1,140 IndyCar Series starts.

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Crew for #23 Duno reports telemetry data indicates a sudden decrease in rear downforce as car entered the back straightaway. The car was rebuilt after Indianapolis and has numerous new parts. The team has begun the failure analysis process. However, SAMAX Motorsport has determined that the data and location of the incident clearly rules out any driver issue. Crew is expects car to be repaired for second practice.

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Entry update: Chief mechanic for #55 Matsuura is now Mark Shambarger. Shambarger will also change right front tire for car during pit stops.

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The Scottish Parliament honored Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti during a recent meeting. MSP Jamie McGrigor proposed the following motion: "That the Parliament congratulates Scotland's Dario Franchitti on winning the 91st running of the Indianapolis 500 in the United States of America, part of the IndyCar Series and one of the most famous motor races in the world; notes that, in doing so, he became the first Scot to win the race since Jim Clark in 1965, and wishes Dario Franchitti every success in continuing to fly the flag for Scotland in the USA."

The motion was supported by several bi-partisan members of parliament.

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Dario Franchitti posed for photos and signed autographs with a group of Special Olympians from the Greater Dallas Region in front of an American Eurocopter (with a Lone Star on the side). American Eurocopter is a sponsor of Special Olympics in Texas. Eurocopter is personal sponsor of Franchitti.

With 24,675 athletes, offering 20 sports at more than 200 competitions, Special Olympics Texas is one of the largest Special Olympics programs in the world.

"This is a big day; it's not often you get to meet the winner of the Indianapolis 500," said Jesse McNeil III, director of the Greater Dallas Special Olympics.

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Firestone supplied nine sets of Firehawk racing radials for teams to use in practice, qualifying and the race. The tire specification is new to Texas for 2007, but it already has seen race action on the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway and Kansas Speedway. A superspeedway tire construction to absorb the loading the tires take on the high-banked ovals, in conjunction with a tread compound featuring improved grip from last year, is being used. --

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The No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, driver Scott Dixon and crew are displaying the blue and white colors of Commit's nicotine lozenges this weekend.

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BOMBARDIER LEARJET 550 POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fastest of the day): "Our car was good today. We worked on race setup most of the day. It's kind of hard with these sessions with time. You don't really have enough tires to be out there all the time, and they seem to lengthen them as well. That was a bit frustrating but generally a good day. We stayed in traffic most of the night. Obviously the fast speed is from a big tow. (About performance on 1.5-mile tracks): "Our team has been quick at most places, especially the mile and halfs. Dan (Wheldon) was superfast here last year, and we've come quite aggressive, I think, for this weekend. That should definitely transfer into great speed and that's what it has done so far. We have had a few issues with this racecar with the rear end but it seemed to roll of the trailer pretty nice and it's got good speed. We're pretty happy." (About his season): " I'm sort of stuck in these second places and fourth places, which is a bit frustrating, looking at the last nine races including last year. We definitely want to get a race win. The team is very capable of it. Obviously the No. 10 car has had two wins already, which is not so good for us. We need to step it up and Texas would be a great place to do it. We've had a good couple of second place finishes here but we definitely need to turn these into some wins real quick."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, third-fastest): "We had a chance to work on a few things today and the Team 7-Eleven car responded very well to the changes we made. The evening session was helpful because it was similar to how we expect the conditions to be on race day. Overall, it was a good day for us."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fifth-fastest): "We worked on the race setup of the Team Penske car today. We were able run in traffic, and the car seems to be handling well. Overall, I think we had a fairly successful day, and we'll continue to fine tune the car to see if we can get a little more speed out of it tomorrow."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, seventh-fastest of the day): "Today we worked primarily on race setup with the Team Penske car. We managed to make progress all day, which is always a good thing. We also got a chance to run under the lights, which gave us a chance to simulate race conditions. Overall, we're satisfied with the progress we made today, but we'll keep working on the car tomorrow in hopes of making it two in a row at Texas.''

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 NYSE Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone, eighth-fastest of the day): "The NYSE car was pretty quick today. We still have some work to do to make the car better under race conditions but I'm confident we'll get there. We've still got another session tomorrow to get ready for qualifying but it's more important to have a comfortable race car here."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone, second-fastest of the day): "All in all it wasn't a bad day for the Canadian Club car. We worked under various conditions. It was really nice to get a run in something close to race conditions. We are reasonably happy with it. We still have work to do, but we are going into the race with a positive frame of mind."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 4 Delphi Panther Dallara/Honda/Firestone, 10th-fastest of the day): "The car is good. We had a little bit of a push early in the first session but we had that sorted by the evening practice. It's great to know that the Delphi car is going to be racy and Saturday night should be a lot of fun. We'll see how we end up tomorrow in qualifications but I don't think it will be a huge deal. At Texas, it's all about your race setup and who is prepared for over 200 laps. I know Panther will be."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "Tonight's session was very valuable since it was the only time we'll run at the actual time of day that the race is held. We just worked in traffic and tried to see how the Motorola car would be in a pack and how it would be in different situations. We're not quite where we need to be yet, but we learned quite a bit and can keep working on it from there."

FRIDAY'S SCHEDULE: (all times local):
11 a.m. IndyCar Series garage open
2:30 -- 4:30 p.m. IndyCar Series practice (two groups)
6 p.m. AAMCO Transmissions Pole Qaulifying

NOTE: Schedule subject to change due to weather.

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The 2007 IndyCar Series season continues with the Bombardier Learjet 550 on June 9 at Texas Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast at 10 p.m. (ET) by ESPN2 and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network beginning at 9 p.m. (ET). The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com. The sixth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Liberty Challenge doubleheader on June 16-17 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. The races will be telecast by ESPN2 at 5 p.m. on June 21. ESPN2's coverage of the Road Runner 100 will be telecast at 6 p.m. on June 7 by ESPN2.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Milka Duno , Tomas Scheckter , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Jim Clark , Buddy Rice , Chip Ganassi , Phil Giebler , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing