Ray Tops Eventful Day

1999 Indy Racing League champion Greg Ray led Indianapolis 500 practice May 16, an eventful day that included two rain delays and a crash by Bruno Junqueira in the car that he drove to the MBNA Pole on May 11.

Ray was fastest at 39.5968 seconds, 227.291 mph in the No. 11 A.J. Foyt Racing/Harrah's entry. It was the second consecutive strong day for Ray, who was second to teammate Airton Dare on Wednesday with a lap of 39.4895, 227.909 in the No. 11 car. Both Ray and Dare must attempt to earn a spot in the 33-car field Sunday on the final day qualifications, Bump Day.

"We made some small changes," Ray said. "The speed wasn't much faster, but the improvement in feel and confidence was huge. The car was fantastic in Turn 1, and the conditions out there weren't that good.

"We've been a little more conservative than usual in our approach. With the small changes we made this morning, the car came right. So a little more of that, and we'll be good for qualifying."

Junqueira was second at 39.7179, 226.598 in the No. 22T Target Chip Ganassi Racing machine, the backup car of his teammate Kenny Brack.
Junqueira crashed early in the afternoon in the No. 33 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car in which he won the pole. Junqueira was unhurt and cleared to drive, and the car suffered minor damage to the left-rear and left-front suspension.

As Junqueira approached the pit entrance, his car suddenly veered right, spun 180 degrees and hit the outside retaining wall on the front straightaway with the left side of the car.

"I was coming into the pits a little too fast, and the brakes locked up on me," Junqueira said. "I was going too fast, so I tried to get back out on the track, and the car just came around.

"The car is not bad at all. Luckily, the car was not damaged that badly, and we'll be fine for the next two weeks. We did some race simulation laps this morning and the car is pretty good in race trim. I can't wait to get back in the car."

Dare was third fastest at 39.7379, 226.484 in the No. 14 Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Racing entry.

Defending IRL champion Sam Hornish Jr. was fourth at 39.8384, 225.913 in the No. 4T Pennzoil Panther Racing machine, with Felipe Giaffone rounding out the top five at 39.8444, 225.879 in the No. 21T Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing car. Both Hornish and Giaffone qualified for the race on Pole Day.

Practice was delayed twice this afternoon by rain. The first delay lasted one hour, 19 minutes; the second 29 minutes. Thirty-six drivers in 39 cars turned 1,548 laps.

There was one incident besides Junqueira's crash. Jon Herb hit the inside retaining wall with the front of his No. 16T entry after spinning while exiting Turn 2, with smoke trailing from the car. Herb was unhurt and cleared to drive.

The 86th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for 11 a.m. (EST) Sunday, May 26

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