May 27, 2011
Dixon quickest in final practice
By SPORTS NETWORK
INDIANAPOLIS -- Scott Dixon from Chip Ganassi Racing topped the speed charts in Friday's "Carb Day" -- the final practice session for the Indianapolis 500 -- at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Dixon, the 2008 Indy 500 winner, ran 60 laps around the famed 2.5-mile oval, with his best lap at 225.474 mph on his 40th lap. He was the only driver who topped the 225 mph mark. The New Zealander will start on the middle of the front row for the 500-mile race.
IndyCar teams spent time during practice getting familiar with the double-file restart procedure, which will be used for the first time in the Indy 500. Restarts for this race had been single-file in the past.
"It was crazy out there this morning," Dixon said. "A lot of people were slowing down, especially in the middle of the short shoot, so there was a lot of stop, go, stop, go."
Earlier this week, IndyCar officials met with drivers and teams and altered the procedure for restarts at Indy by changing the distance of the acceleration zone in an effort to lower speeds.
"I tried two or three [restart] laps," Dixon said. "It's just a check to realize where the restart area is and how the car shifts up gear. It's a bit of a drag, so hopefully we had the correct gears in there. All in all, it seemed pretty good. Hopefully, they keep the track clean on these restarts."
Alex Tagliani, who won the pole for the Indy 500 last Saturday, was second fastest at 224.739 mph.
"My car is very racy, and I like it a lot," Tagliani said. "I think our car seems to be very competitive, and it can run up front all day, if we stay there."
Dario Franchitti, the defending race winner, posted the third quickest lap at 224.658 mph. Franchitti will start the race from the outside of row three.
Vitor Meira and Dan Wheldon were fourth and fifth, respectively.
Buddy Rice, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan, Helio Castroneves and John Andretti completed the top-10.
Hunter-Reay, who was bumped from the Indy 500 starting grid, replaced Bruno Junqueira in A.J. Foyt's No.41 car earlier this week. He will start from the rear of the 33-car field due to the driver change.
Danica Patrick struggled in practice with a 20th-place result. Patrick will start on the inside of row nine.
Sunday's Indianapolis 500 -- the 100th anniversary of this prestigious event -- is scheduled to start at noon EDT (9 a.m. PDT).