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Castroneves leads opening day of Indy 500 practice

Helio Castroneves and Penske issue early Indianapolis 500 warning.
Defending race winner Helio Castroneves posted the fastest lap as practice opened for the 94th Indianapolis 500 before the veterans made way for their less experienced rivals on a rain-hit day.

Castroneves clocked 39.7170secs on his best lap around the 2.5-mile oval in the back-up #3 machine, as some 27 car-driver combinations recorded 451 incident-free laps before yielding to rookies and other drivers undertaking a refresher course. None of the seven rookies attempting to qualify for the race completed all four phases of the mandatory Rookie Orientation Program, although Simona de Silvestro, Ana Beatriz and Takuma Sato successfully completed two of the four steps.

"It's always good when you start with a positive wave, although there is certainly still a lot of work to go," Castroneves commented, "It was just the right time and the right moment with two cars in front of me.

"It seems to be very interesting this year: Even if you are away from another car, the draft is tremendous. It is going to play a lot of tricks during the month of May. So far, the 3T car seems to be where we want it, so we won't touch the car and keep at it."

Target Chip Ganassi Racing team-mates Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon - who won the 2007 and 2008 Indy 500s respectively - were next on the list, while another former winner Dan Wheldon, who was runner-up to Castroneves last year, was fourth in the #4 National Guard Panther Racing car.

"It was a good day for Team Target, myself and Scott," Franchitti revealed, "To have the car feeling so good was really encouraging. I managed to do a couple laps and saw [Tony Kanaan] ahead of me and managed to draft off of him. It was a nice way to start the month. With the new regulations, the IndyCar Series has changed things definitely, but there's no doubt the Target cars are good. That was a T car, so we're hoping the other cars will be a little better too."

"It has been a busy schedule once the season started - it seems we have either been testing or racing [the whole time] - so the guys did an extremely good job in getting the Panther Racing car prepared for Indianapolis," Wheldon added, "The initial baseline that we did, the car ran very, very well. I've been around here long enough to know that it doesn't make too much difference at this point, but it's always better to start good than the other way around."

Ed Carpenter, competing in an IZOD IndyCar Series event for the first time since the 2009 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, was seventh quickest in the #20 Panther/Vision Fuzzy's Vodka entry.

Tony Kanaan wasn't the fastest driver during Opening Day, but he was one of the busiest. The 2004 series champion shook down all five Andretti Autosport cars entered for the 500 before regular drivers Marco Andretti, John Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Danica Patrick took hold of their own machines. Kanaan turned a total of 36 laps, second only to Alex Lloyd, who turned 39 in his primary car for Dale Coyne Racing.




Related Pictures

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30 April-1 May, 2010, Kansas City, Kansas USA #3 Team Penske`s Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe.
Sebastien Bourdais with his son after winning Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto. (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
The red flag is waived halting attempts to start Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto on Saturday. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway and Team Owner Ed Carpenter celebrate victory in Race 2 of the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Sebastien Bourdais gets a congratulatory hug from team co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven after winning Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Chevrolet sweeps the podium with winner Mike Conway (center), driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrating his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. Tony Kanaan (left), driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet celebrates his second-place finish. Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet celebrates his third-place finish. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, takes the chequered flag while racing to victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway on his way to victory in the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway jumps for joy after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway with the winner`s flag after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway, Tony Kanaan and Will Power celebrate on the podium after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway receives the winner`s trophy after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway, Tony Kanaan and Will Power pose for a selfie on the podium after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan and Will Power pose for a selfie on the podium after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrates with the Ed Carpenter Racing team after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrates after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)

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