IRL: Watkins Glen: Friday practice notes

CASTRONEVES FASTEST ON DAY 1 AT THE GLEN WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. Friday, July 6, 2007 -- For the third consecutive year at Watkins Glen International, Helio Castroneves will select the order (straight up or inversed) for single-lap qualifying July ...


WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. Friday, July 6, 2007 -- For the third consecutive year at Watkins Glen International, Helio Castroneves will select the order (straight up or inversed) for single-lap qualifying July 7.

It's the fifth time in eight IndyCar Series street/road course events that the driver of the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone topped the combined speed chart in first-day practice, earning the right to select the qualifying order. His quick lap of 1:30.1192 (134.622 mph) was faster than his previous record of 1:30.6688 (133.806 mph) in September 2005. Two-time defending Watkins Glen winner Scott Dixon was second fastest with a lap of 1:30.1587, 134.563 mph, while 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice'a fast lap of the morning session (1:30.2580, 134.415 mph) held for third on the speed chart.

Under the IndyCar Series format, the quickest driver selects the qualifying order. The fastest six from single-car qualifying return for the 10-minute, all-car "Firestone Fast Six," which determines the first three rows.


Indy Racing League founder and CEO Tony George will join crew members from Andretti Green Racing, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Rahal Letterman Racing, Team Penske and Vision Racing for a special IndyCar Series Crew mini-sprint car race at Black Rock Speedway in nearby Dundee.

The entry list includes:
    *Greg Baker, Vision Racing
    *Derek Davidson, Vision Racing
    *Chris Bennett, Vision Racing
    *Josh Junge, Vision Racing
    *Chris Hogue, Vision Racing
    *Kris Badger, Vision Racing
    *Didier Francesia, Target Chip Ganassi Racing
    *Blair Julian, Target Chip Ganassi Racing
    *Anton Julian, Target Chip Ganassi Racing
    *Adam Rogazzini, Target Chip Ganassi Racing
    *Jim Hamilton, Target Chip Ganassi Racing
    *Kyle Moyer, Andretti Green Racing
    *Nick Ford, Andretti Green Racing
    *Dave Sharpley, Andretti Green Racing
    *Ricky Campbell , Andretti Green Racing
    *Dave Popielarz, Andretti Green Racing
    *Mike Kranz, Rahal Letterman Racing
    *Jimmy Looper, Rahal Letterman Racing
    *Nick Looper, Rahal Letterman Racing
    *Will Cruz, Rahal Letterman Racing
    *Jamie Kootz, Team Penske
    *John Stainchina, Team Penske


SAMAX Motorsport and driver Milka Duno released the following statement about not competing this weekend.

MILKA DUNO: "When we originally announced the 10-race schedule in March, we had planned on racing at Watkins Glen. However, for various reasons that were not anticipated, we just ended up not having enough time to test and prepare for a road course race in July. Watkins Glen is one of my favorite race tracks, and I was very much looking forward to making my first road course appearance here as an IndyCar Series driver. Instead, my next race will be in Nashville on July 14, and I am expecting that my first road course race in an IndyCar will be at the Infineon Raceway in Sonoma on August 26."


The wet weather in central Texas has been a big factor for four-time winner A.J. Foyt recently. Foyt owns a lake house on Lake Travis, near Austin, Texas, which has reached flood stage. Foyt and his son Tony had to clear the 8,500 square foot house of its furniture as the first level flooded last week. They returned earlier this week to clear the second level, where the main living quarters are.


Firestone has made an additional set of Firehawk dry weather tires available to IndyCar Series teams due to the tire wear associated with the new paving in Turns 1, 5 and 6. The six cars participating in Saturday's Firestone Fast Six qualifying will also be given an extra set of tires.


A.J. Foyt Racing Team Director Larry Foyt is not at Watkins Glen today as he is attempting to qualify a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup car for BAM Racing for Saturday's Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway.



HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fastest in practice): "Today was a good day. The times are definitely faster because of the improvements made on certain areas of the track surface. It's been great. Team Penske has been working hard and it's showing. Right now we're excited about the speeds from this afternoon, but tomorrow is still another important day.

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We struggled quite a bit this morning, as this is our first time here with the Dallara chassis, and we have quite a bit to learn and fine tune. We made a few changes, and it seemed to improve the car. We had a little bit of trouble towards the end, ran out of fuel, so we had to come in. After that, we did that one lap straight out of the box, so it does seem fairly decent. We just need to fine tune a little bit and hopefully pick up a little more speed for tomorrow." (Why does this race track suit you?): "Because there are right turns, I guess. I just love the road and street courses. Having won here at Watkins twice has been great, and it would be great to add a third win. It's even more important for the points race in the championship. It's been good to be consistent with four runner-up finishes and three fourth place finishes but I'm while I am second in the points, I'm the only one in the top six without a win. It be good to get one here again."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Honda/Firestone, third fastest): "I think we are still rolling on some momentum from the two short ovals. Also, we were quite quick at the Mid-Ohio Open Test. Going into tomorrow, I hope we can be in the fast six and be a part of the Firestone Fast Six Shootout. That will give us a good starting position for Sunday, so that we can try to continue out the top five streak that we have going. It's a little one, but it's good for us right now."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fourth fastest): "We had some good progress today for the Canadian Club car. I have to thank my guys because they made a lot of big changes while we were on pit lane. It was looking good there at the end of the second session. I messed up the last lap that was the lap for me. I am a little upset with myself for that. We'll do a better job tomorrow."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fifth fastest): "We're pretty happy with what we accomplished today. We were fifth fastest on the day and feel good about the Team Penske car, so hopefully we'll qualify well tomorrow and give ourselves a good starting spot to bring home a solid finish. It's going to be a long race, so we just need to concentrate on being patient and not making any mistakes."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, sixth fastest): "I was pretty happy with the Team 7-Eleven car today. It's always difficult to setup a car on a road course because you have to decide which corners you are going to gain a lot of time in and try to set the car up for those. You are never going to have a good car all around. We gained speed in the afternoon session and hopefully we'll be able to find more before qualifying tomorrow."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 NYSE Group Dallarra/Honda/Firestone, 10th fastest): "I thought the NYSE car was better in the afternoon than it was in the first session, so we definitely made progress today. We were fighting the same issues the other drivers were in that we just couldn't find a lot of grip in the turns. We'll work on it tonight with our teammates and hopefully be able to find some more speed."


The 2007 IndyCar Series season continues with the Camping World Watkins Glen Grand Prix at 3:30 p.m. (ET) on July 8 at Watkins Glen International. The race will be televised live by ABC and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The next Indy Pro Series event is the Corning Twin 100 doubleheader on July 7-8 at Watkins Glen International. The race will be televised by ESPN2 on July 12.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Milka Duno , Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon , Larry Foyt , Buddy Rice , Chip Ganassi , Tony George , A.J. Foyt
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing