Hornish On Top Again In Indy Practice
May 10, 2006 | 4:40 P.M. EST
Hornish led Tuesday's opening session with a lap of 224.811 mph. Defending winner Dan Wheldon needed less than 15 minutes to top that with a lap of 225.636 mph in his Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, and led the charts until Hornish ran his lap shortly before rain put an end to the session at 3:30 p.m.
Third fastest was Kosuke Matsuura, 225.140 mph, followed by Tony Kanaan (224.500), Bryan Herta (224.292), Helio Castroneves (224.258), Scott Sharp (223.997), Scott Dixon (223.830), Dario Franchitti (223.422) and rookie Marco Andretti (223.291).
Twenty-three competitors ran a total of 952 laps, led by Danica Patrick’s 66 circuits. Last year’s rookie sensation was 12th fastest at 223.084 mph.
The distinction of the first crash of the month went to Jeff Simmons, who tagged the Turn 2 wall in the No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol Honda Panoz only three minutes into the session in the only incident of the day. He was unhurt and was able to return to practice later in the session.
There are now 32 driver/car combinations for the Indy 500, one away from the magic 33.
Sam Schmidt Motorsports announced Wednesday that four-time Indianapolis 500 competitor Airton Dare will drive the No. 88 Octane Motors/Sanitec/SSM Panoz Honda.
Dare’s last IRL appearance was in the 2003 Indianapolis 500, when he started 33rd in an A.J. Foyt Racing entry but was involved in an accident and finished 24th. The 2002 Kansas Speedway winner, Dare’s best Indy 500 finish was in 2001, when he placed eighth.
"For me, it’s a dream come true to be back," Dare said. "When I had that accident in 2003 driving A.J. Foyt’s car and I went back to Brazil to drive stock cars, I thought I’d never come back here. I went to the Homestead (IndyCar Series) race this year to see some guys, and then we started to try to put together a deal to come to Indy, and with everybody having the same motors that was a plus for us, it makes it more interesting."
Rain is also in the forecast when practice resumes Thursday and Friday from noon to 6 p.m. Qualifying for the top 11 positions will be held Saturday from noon – 6 p.m., with positions 12-22 set on Sunday. The remainder of the 33-car field will be set Saturday, May 20, followed by Bump Day, Sunday, May 21. The 90th Indianapolis 500 takes the green flag at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 28.