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Three-Timer Franchitti Moves To Top At IMS

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Thursday, May 16 2013

Dario Franchitti was fastest on the bricks Wednesday. (INDYCAR/LAT USA)

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Three-time/reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti put Honda’s turbocharged V6 atop the speed chart for the first time during the Month of May Wednesday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as teams continued preparations for the 97th Indianapolis 500.

Franchitti recorded the fastest lap of the day at 224.235 mph (40.1363-seconds) with 27 minutes left in the six-hour afternoon session. At 5 p.m., the ambient temperature was 88 degrees with a relative humidity of 37 percent and winds from the west-southwest at 8 mph, gusting to 17 mph. Skies were mostly cloudy. Track temperature was 117 degrees, according to Firestone Racing engineers.

Franchitti was typically pragmatic about his hot lap after a week of domination by Andretti Autosport’s Chevrolet-powered cars. “It doesn’t really count for much, but it’s nice, nonetheless,” said Franchitti, driver of the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda. “Right now we’re still very much in the preparation stage. We’re making changes to the car, and sometimes doing one- and two-lap runs.

“I think we had a pretty tough morning there and made some big changes to the Target car in the afternoon. We ran some and was pretty happy with it, so we went out there with some of the Andretti guys and my teammates _ Scott (Dixon), Ryan (Briscoe) and I think Charlie (Kimball) was involved for a minute there, as well _ and some other guys involved in a pack, and really the lap time came from being in the right place at the right time.

“It was a bit like everybody out there: it was when you got the tow and how big the tow was. So for us, it was more important that the car balanced and how the car is in traffic and stuff, and we’re getting there with that. Still got a little work to do, but we’re closer than we have been.” Saturday’s Pole Day qualifications will lock the first 24 positions into the traditional 33-car field.

No few than 15 IZOD IndyCar Series drivers toured the 2.5-mile oval in groups of three, four and five in the final 30 minutes in an effort to experience the balance of their cars in traffic and continue to develop overall race setups. In total, 32 drivers piled up 2,165 laps without incident on Day 5.

Townsend Bell, participating in his second full on-track session, climbed to second (40.2295-seconds/223.716 mph) in the No. 60 Sunoco “Turbo” Chevrolet for Panther Racing. “It’s been great,” Bell said. “The car has been solid. The Panther guys have done an awesome job. We had a rocky start with me coming in late from Laguna (Seca), but we’ve rebounded nicely since then.”

Three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves again was among the fastest (40.2327-seconds/223.699 mph) in the No. 3 Shell V-Power/Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske Chevrolet.

Marco Andretti (221.419 mph) in the No. 25 RC Cola Dallara/Chevrolet and Andretti Autosport teammate E.J. Viso (220.305 mph) in the No. 5 Team Venezuela Dallara/Chevrolet, recorded the fastest non-tow laps earlier in the session.

Pit crews servicing Oriol Servia (Panther DRR), Charlie Kimball (NovoNordisk Chip Ganassi Racing), James Hinchcliffe (Andretti Autosport), Ryan Briscoe (Chip Ganassi Racing) and Marco Andretti (Andretti Autosport) qualified for the Indianapolis 500 Pit Stop Competition via time trials held Wednesday morning.

That group joins the crews for Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport), Helio Castroneves (Team Penske), Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing), Dario Franchitti (Target Chip Ganassi Racing), Tony Kanaan (KV Racing Technology), Will Power (Team Penske) and Takuma Sato (A.J. Foyt Racing), who qualified through pit performance at IndyCar Series events between the 2012 Indianapolis 500 and 2013 Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 in Brazil.

The Pit Stop Competition will take place during Coors Light Carb Day on May 24.

Thirty-two drivers were on-track Wednesday. The lone driver not running again was 1996 Indy 500 champion Buddy Lazier, who has not turned any laps this month in the No. 91 Lazier Partners Dallara/Chevrolet for Lazier Partners Racing, owned by former Indy 500 competitor and Buddy’s father, Bob Lazier.

A total of 42 cars are at the Speedway, with 41 passing technical inspection. The 32 drivers turned 2,226 laps Wednesday and 5,235 laps this month. E.J. Viso of Andretti Autosport recorded 134 laps Wednesday, most of any driver. There were five cautions for a total of 43 minutes.

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Thursday, May 16 2013
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