Chip Ganassi Racing's Dan Wheldon once gain led the way on a day shortened by rain showers over the Speedway, Indiana area. After losing much of the afternoon to a persistent downpour that finally let up around 2PM, the venerable Brickyard dried...
Chip Ganassi Racing's Dan Wheldon once gain led the way on a day shortened by rain showers over the Speedway, Indiana area. After losing much of the afternoon to a persistent downpour that finally let up around 2PM, the venerable Brickyard dried quickly enough that both Wheldon and Helio Castroneves of Team Penske could record numbers that broke through the magic 40 second/225 mph mark on Wednesday (May 9th).
"The car is performing well," said Wheldon afterwards. "The biggest thing isn't working toward qualifying, but the race. We're kind of in between the two at the moment."
"But at the same time, when you have a genuine shot at the pole, you need to take it," he continued. Wheldon's lap of 226.391 mph currently sets the standard for the field of twenty-nine drivers who have seen the track to date.
"Mechanically the car is very good for when you take off some downforce. By the same token, I think I said this yesterday, I must be getting old because I'm much more concerned with the race than I am the pole."
Team Penske was playing its mirror games today, as the little black shoe-boxes with handles made an appearance up and down pitroad for the cars of Castroneves and Sam Hornish, Jr; and not surprisingly, Ryan Briscoe.
Whether for effect or actual performance, the mirrors seemed to do the trick for Helio who becomes the only driver other than Wheldon to break through the 225 mph barrier with his speed of 225.820 mph.
"Obviously, we were a little limited on track time because of the rain, but we learned a lot about the Team Penske car today," he said, presumably talking about car and mirrors.
"We're still focusing on our race setup at this point because that's really what's important. The fastest car doesn't always win. We improved the car's handling and ended up a little faster than yesterday, so we're happy with the direction we're heading."
For the record, the mirror stanchion is the actual piece that appears in play, which on the Penske car sports two trapezoidal, transparent lucite panels. Most of the cars (Ganassi included) have none, while Andretti/Green have a single such clear panel within the mirror stanchion.
Plain-stanchioned Scott Dixon was third quick for the two hour session that ran from 4PM to 6PM closing; while Andretti/Green Racing's one-pane wunderkind Marco Andretti was fourth and teammate Tony Kanaan fifth best on this day. Defending Indy 500 champion Hornish finished sixth.
In all there were twenty-six driver/car combinations that made an appearance during the short practice period, and 680 laps turned total during that time.
Tomorrow's practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway begins at Noon, weather permitting, with the forecast currently calling for some rain.
The weekend weather, with qualifying looming Saturday (May 12th), promises some clearing with the possibility of the first scheduled Pole Day in three years a strong likelihood now.