IRL: Wheldon takes control on Saturday in Texas

Dan Wheldon took control of Indy Racing League IndyCar Series practice in both morning and late afternoon sessions today, logging the top speed in preparation for tomorrow's Chevy 500K with his ...

Dan Wheldon took control of Indy Racing League IndyCar Series practice in both morning and late afternoon sessions today, logging the top speed in preparation for tomorrow's Chevy 500K with his #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone racer in an attempt to solidify his hold on second place in the point chase.

Turning a top morning lap of 215.817mph (24.2706 seconds), Wheldon then followed up with an afternoon tour of the Texas Motor Speedway's 1.5-mile banked oval of 214.445mph (24.2458 seconds).

Second overall was MBNA polesitter Helio Castroneves in the #3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota at 214.666mph (24.4007 seconds) in the morning session while rookie Mark Taylor, who qualified the #13 Access Motorsports Panoz G Force/Honda 17th yesterday came third this afternoon with his 214.001mph-lap (24.4765 seconds).

Rookie Kosuke Matsuura, trying to gain 2004 Bombardier Rookie of the Year honors was fourth for the day with his afternoon lap of 213.801mph (24.4994 seconds) in the #55 Panasonic/ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda. Vitor Meira earned the fifth best speed with his #17 Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda this morning at 213.760mph (24.5041 seconds) while Tomas Scheckter's morning lap of 214.595mph (24.5230 seconds) in the #4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet gave him the sixth best speed of this practice day.

Sam Hornish Jr., who clinched both his 2001 and 2002 IndyCar Series titles on this track was seventh for the day in the #6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota at 213.578mph (24.5250 seconds), followed by 2004 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race winner Buddy Rice, powering the #15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz G Force/Honda to a tour of 213.514mph (24.5323 seconds), also in the morning practice session.

Both practices were held under similar conditions as this Texas day dawned clear and cool. Following both the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and Menards Infiniti Pro Series races this afternoon, it wasn't until 5:30PM local time that the Indy cars began their final practice, forcing TMS to turn on the lights to aid visibility.

Alex Barron, who finished third here in the June night race took ninth with his #51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet at 213.336mph (24.5528 seconds), also set in the morning. Tenth place for the day fell to 2003 IRL champion Scott Dixon's #1 Team Target Panoz G Force/Toyota, based on his morning run of 213.320mph (24.5547 seconds).

Adrian Fernandez was 11th in his #5 Quaker State/Telmex Panoz G Force/Honda and Bryan Herta was 12th with the #7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda, setting that time this evening.

Dario Franchitti's morning didn't go quite the way he wanted, yet the Scot ended up 13th in his #27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda before crunching the Turn 2 SAFER barrier and sustaining a fracture to the fifth metatarsal in his left foot. The team declared the primary car a mess and prepared the spare for Franchitti, who will start to the rear of the field in front of Scheckter and Townsend Bell, whose cars were disqualified.

2004 IRL champion Tony Kanaan's evening lap in the #11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda gave him 14th for the day, followed by Scott Sharp's #8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota. Bell was 16th in the #2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevy, while Tomas Enge brought the #20 Patrick Racing Dallara/Chevy to 17th overall. Tora Takagi was 18th in the #12 Pioneer Dallara/Toyota, Felipe Giaffone took 19th in the 324 Purex/Aventis Dallara/Chevy, Ed Carpenter took 20th with the #52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet and A.J. Foyt IV was the caboose today in his #14 Conseco Dallara/Toyota, failing to turn a single lap in final practice.

The season-ending Chevy 500K takes the green flags shortly before noon CDT tomorrow and airs live on ABC.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Mark Taylor , Tomas Enge , Felipe Giaffone , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , A.J. Foyt IV , Adrian Fernandez , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Tora Takagi , Bryan Herta , Alex Barron , Townsend Bell , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Kosuke Matsuura , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr. , Ed Carpenter , Vitor Meira
Teams Team Penske