Helio Castroneves enjoyed a successful final practice day ahead of Sunday's Indianapolis 500, adding to success in the annual pit-stop challenge and in the closing of his recent court case by topping Carb Day practice.

The Brazilian paced the final day with a lap of 40.1929secs to edge out the man he replaced in the second Team Penske entry a couple of races ago, Will Power, with Mario Moraes, Dan Wheldon and Ryan Briscoe completing the top five.

"It felt really good, it felt awesome," Castroneves said, "I'm very confident and comfortable in the car, and it was nice to have that right before the race. The weather on Race Day is going to be very similar to what it was today. It was important for us to run today. I feel very confident. I can't wait for Sunday, I'll tell you that. It's going to be a long race and a lot of things can happen, but I can't wait for Sunday."

The 33 starters in the field for the 500 combined for 1224 incident-free laps on the 2.5-mile oval, with Power pleased to have been on the pace despite continuing to learn the nuances of the Brickyard.

"I came here last year with no experience, as the [KVRT] team did, and we were learning on the job," he reflected, "This year, I was a bit more composed because I knew what to expect, but, if I come here again next year, we would do things differently again. It's just a process where you learn and you experience from everything going on around you. This has been a more comfortable month for me this year, for sure."

Despite being fourth fastest, Wheldon admitted that he still wasn't fully happy with the #4 National Guard/Panther Racing Dallara.

"We have a few things that we can fix, but we're certainly in a better spot from where we were," the Briton reported, "My car felt nice. This is the closest field in Indianapolis 500 history - ever - so I expect it to be close. I expect there to be some surprises too. The weather conditions will change some stuff."

Briscoe underlined Penske's challenge for race success by putting his car - and the team's third - into the top five.

"The Team Penske car felt good out there this morning, everything feels like it did in the T-car when we left it last week," the Australian reported, "I think we're in good shape - I'm excited about Sunday, and we're ready to go racing."

The third front row starter, Dario Franchitti, was sixth fastest on the day, the best of the two Ganassi entries by a fraction over Scott Dixon, while Graham Rahal, Townsend Bell and Davey Hamilton rounded out the top ten.

"The McDonald's car felt super-nice - it's pretty comfortable to drive in and out of traffic," Rahal enthused, "We definitely have the pace to run with the rest of the big boys, that's for sure. At the end, we were going to get a killer lap, and I think a lot of the guys ahead of us on the timesheets got decent tows, but [Alex] Tagliani pulled into the pits in front of me and there went my lap. We are really happy with the car though, and especially happy with our pace if we are in the lead pack. I think we are really fast- but there are very few guys that are as quick as us so I'm pretty happy."

Tony Kanaan headed Paul Tracy in eleventh and twelfth, the Brazilian the best of the Andretti Green racing quartet, with Marco Andretti 15th, Hideki Mutoh 20th and Danica Patrick 23rd.

"It was good to get the #26 car out on track, and I think the conditions and traffic today will be very similar to what they predict will be on Sunday," Andretti commented, "We didn't quite have the speed we were looking for but I am still confident that the Team Venom Energy car will be able to run strong and be a contender come race day."

The most experienced man in the field, Scott Sharp recorded a the 17th fastest lap at 219.977mph and insisted that he was confident of a strong run on race day.

"We definitely made some gains today," the sportscar convert reported, "About halfway through the session, we switched over to Dan [Wheldon]'s set-up, and that was a bit of an improvement. We're certainly moving forward and, if we can make one more step for the race on Sunday, I think we will be in good shape. It is a big challenge, but I wouldn't be back unless I had a huge desire to get that Tequila Patr?n car into victory lane at the 500."

Among those not enjoying Carb Day quite so much, Alex Lloyd was only 25th in the combined Ganassi/Sam Schmidt entry, but still ended the day ahead of countryman Justin Wilson, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Robert Doornbos, the Dutchman struggling to get up to speed in the early part of the session.


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