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Sky Clears, Speeds Up At Indianapolis

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Thursday, May 19 2011

Will Power topped the speed charts at Indy on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of the IZOD IndyCar Series)

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The rains departed and the cars took to the track at Indianapolis on Thursday.

IZOD IndyCar Series points leader Will Power topped the speed charts as practice for the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 resumed following a two-day weather-related break.

With 12 minutes left in the six-hour session, Verizon Team Penske’s Power unseated Alex Tagliani atop the speed chart with a lap of 227.778 mph (fastest of the month) to earn the $5,000 Grady Brothers Construction Fastest Lap of the Day award. All 40 entrants took on the track, recording a total of 2,394 laps, and the top 38 cars were separated by one second.

“I don’t think the speeds are very representative of where anyone is at,” Power said. “You go out and happen to get a really good tow, and you get a big number. That’s what happened at the end. Verizon Team Penske worked on race setup most of the day. I was very comfortable following cars. We haven’t changed much from last year. We had good cars last year and need to rub on them a little bit, and that will do the trick.”

Tagliani, driving the No. 77 Bower & Wilkins car for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, had a quick lap of 227.652. Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe (227.217) and three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves (226.927) followed, and Townsend Bell in the No. 99 Herbalife Schmidt Pelfrey Racing car was fifth (226.741).

“We did well today. We learned a lot. We had good track position, and we weren’t in a lot of traffic,” Tagliani said. “That lap (227.652 mph), I was behind Dario Franchitti, so I had a bit of a tow. But it shows that the car is quick and capable of doing it. I think we still have more to come. We just need to make sure that when it comes time to do it, we have the right balance.”

Asked if he had a chance for the pole, Tagliani said, “The way the car is running right now, for sure it is. I think we would be foolish to think that we couldn’t do it. But the truth is that Penske and Ganassi have really good cars, and they know their way around this place. They have 10 times more experience than us. I’m sure by qualifying they’re going to do something amazing to their cars, and all of a sudden they’re going to be up to the top and we’re going to end up fighting with them. But if that happens, that’s OK. We should be proud that guys like Roger and Chip are looking at us, going, ‘Why are those guys so quick?’ That’s kind of our mindset right now.”

The yellow flag flew early in the session when Simona de Silvestro’s No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy car made heavy contact with the outside retaining wall in the North Short Chute and became airborne before catching fire. She was transported to Methodist Hospital to be treated for burns to her hands and released. Her driving status will be determined on Friday.

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Thursday, May 19 2011
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