News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Auto Racing

May 19, 2010

Scott Dixon tops Wednesday speed charts at Indy

INDIANAPOLIS — Wednesday was the busiest day yet for Indianapolis 500 practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Drivers turned 2,282 laps in cloudy, cool and dry conditions in preparation for the start of qualifying Saturday.

Scott Dixon again was first on the speed chart, turning a top lap of 226.971 miles per hour. The Team Ganassi driver had the top lap of 226.549 on Tuesday.

Ryan Briscoe was second fastest with a lap of 226.633 mph late in the afternoon and Alex Tagliani was third with 226.002 mph.

Tagliani ran only 13 laps compared to 68 for Dixon and 71 for Briscoe.

“The car feels very good behind people and by itself. We want to have good tires for qualifying,” said the 2009 race rookie of the year who drives the FAZZT Race Team car.

Each team is allowed so many tires for practice. Those drivers who make the top nine for Saturday’s shootout for the pole will receive extra tires.

Tagliani said “you can second-guess yourself here,” and thus he does not feel the reduced track time will hamper preparations for the May 30 race.

Team Penske driver Will Power was sixth on the speed list with a top lap of 225.703 mph. He is the early leader in the IZOD IndyCar Series point totals with two wins and says the tire allotment has altered strategy in practice and qualifying.

He noted that he will be making his first serious challenge for the pole. He says points awarded for qualifying make it important to challenge for a top spot if a driver has championship intentions.

“It was good to be running without any rain,” he said.

Tagliani noted temperatures are supposed to be much warmer on Saturday which will mean a change in track conditions. “It is supposed to be warmer tomorrow [Thursday]. We’ll give it a shot,” said.

Practice began at noon and continued until 6 p.m. in cloudy, cool conditions. The top 34 drivers were separated by .9761 of a second in their top laps with eight drivers turning laps of 225 mph or better.

More practice is scheduled today and Friday before the start of qualifying with Pole Day runs Saturday.

With poor weather a possibility for Fast Friday, today could be another busy day at the track. Practice again begins at noon.

E.J. Viso was cleared to drive but did not make any runs. He was involved in an accident on Tuesday and taken to Methodist Hospital, where X-rays proved negative.

“We’re focusing on the backup. I think we’re going to run it for at least a month,” said the driver for KV Racing Technology.

• • •

Pit stops — Former race winner Dario Franchitti observed his 37th birthday and was presented a cake by wife Ashley Judd as a bagpiper played outside the garage of the native of Scotland.

• Vitor Meira will compete in the Foster Grant Ironman World Championship 70.3 Series in Florida along with about 1,800 other athletes. The Half-Ironman event involves a 13.1-mile run, 1.2-mile swim and 56-mile bike ride.

Meira has competed multiple half-marathon events and the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in Indianapolis.

“Swimming is where I need to improve. I’m pretty good at biking,” said the Foyt Racing driver.

In last year’s Indy 500, Meira suffered two broken vertebrae in his lower back that ended his racing season.

“After being injured, my full-time job changed from driving race cars to recovery,” Meira said. “Triathlon fitness take my physical conditioning to another level and helps me focus.”

• U.S. Auto Club racing in three divisions is slated this week at Iowa Speedway.

Features will be run Saturday night for Silver Crown, midget and sprint divisions.

King of Indiana Sprint Car Series (KISS) action tops Friday’s Bloomington Speedway schedule.

Dave Darland is the early points leader in the series. Jon Stanbrough is third and has won one sprint feature at the Monroe County oval this season.

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