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Wheldon tops practice

Fifteen Indy Racing League drivers were on course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Sunday morning hour-long practice session, preceding the six hour second day of qualifying for the 2009 Indianapolis 500. It was bright and sunny, mild temperature of 57 degrees F track temperature of 79 F, and gentle winds of six mph.

The start of the session was delayed 15 minutes for repairs to the SAFER wall in Turn One. And the hits just keep on coming. The area between Turns One and Two has been the scene of the crashes this weekend, and Sunday morning was no different.

Rookie Mike Conway spun and hit the Turn One SAFER wall hard - so hard that the rear-end thump could be heard in the Honda hospitality tent. He was evaluated at the Clarian infield emergency centre, and then transported, awake and alert, to Methodist Hospital for observation. Conway's primary car, which sustained right side and rear end damage, is fourth in the qualifying Order, and no backup car is listed. He only turned two laps in the session.

In a separate accident, Alex Tagliani spun and hit the Turn One SAFER wall with the left rear of the car. The car sustained left side and rear damage, but Tag was seen and released, cleared to drive. The team has all the garage doors down so it's difficult to determine if the car can be repaired in time for Sunday afternoon's qualifying. His backup car is tenth in the Qualifying Order, and the primary car is twenty-second. Tagliani had turned six laps.

"Honestly, I don't know,” Tagliani said. “We were just warming up the car. On the third lap, it was a pretty slow lap, 199 (mph), I got into Turn 1 and all of the sudden I lost the rear. It's pretty unfortunate. I don't think the car is too badly damaged. I looked at it when I got out of the car. We'll see if we can put it back together and try to qualify this afternoon."

Dan Wheldon was the fastest of the fifteen drivers, followed by Justin Wilson -who turned the most laps (22) - Paul Tracy, Vitor Meira and John Andretti.

by Lynne Huntting


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