Patrick Fastest Again

Danica Patrick recorded the fastest time of the month at Indianapolis 500 Sunday morning, running a lap of 229.880 mph in pre-qualifying practice.

With Saturday’s opening day session cancelled due to rain, today’s noon – 6 p.m. (CDT) qualifying will set the MBNA Pole and top 22 seconds for the May 29 89th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Qualifying to set positions 23-33 will be held Saturday, with Bump Day set for Sunday, May 22.

With a forecast of cool weather at the Speedway, each car will receive an extra warmup lap (three laps total) before a qualifying attempt.

While Patrick was fastest in the No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Honda Panoz, defending IRL IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan was second at 228.900, followed by Andretti Green Racing teammate Dario Franchitti and Scott Sharp.

“The drama of pole day will be outstanding because we will have 10, 12, 15 cars capable of sitting on the front row,” Indy Racing League president and chief operating officer Brian Barnhart said. “It’s going to put a burden on the team from a strategy standpoint, because if they do that they have to withdraw the speed of a car that’s already in the field. It will put a lot of pressure on the teams to make the right call.”

Sharp, first in the qualifying line, said everyone will be watching his performance on a day when temperatures are not expected to surpass 60 degrees.

"The gauge for everybody will probably be the way we run,'' Sharp said. "There's a big temperature change expected and the (morning) practice is going to be important. Whoever makes the best adjustments in practice will have the best chance of doing well in qualifying.''

Tomas Scheckter, driving the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, posted the highest practice speed during the week at 227.804mph (39.5076 seconds) on the 2.5-mile oval. Three different Honda-powered drivers led the speed parade the first three days of practice, with Toyota-powered teams close behind.

Patrick is confident heading into her first qualifying.

“It is disappointing not to get out there,” she said after the rainout. “After our week of practice, our team was anxious to make our qualifying run, but the weather didn’t cooperate so we’ll have to do it on Sunday. I'm confident in the Argent/Pioneer car’s setup. It’s something we have worked on all week and we have a lot of data from last year. Of course, qualifying always seems to a little different than in practice.

"I'm hoping for a pole. I can't believe I'm saying that; it's my first Indy. But I am. "You have to take advantage of good times when they're there. If you don't expect to go out there and be the fastest, you won't be."

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Saturday, October 19, 2013
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