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Indy 500: Tagliani tops Monday times

All but one of the 40 entrants for this year's Indianapolis 500 turned at least a few laps during Monday's practice session, with Alex Tagliani putting in the best time seen so far.
The weather at Indianapolis was transformed on Monday morning, with blue skies and sunshine replacing the dark, wet conditions that saw Sunday's practice session completely washed out.

But conditions still were far from ideal for racing, as a fierce wind whipped across the Indianapolis Motor Speedway making handling through some of the corners particularly difficult.

"We could have weather like this in qualifying or on Race Day, so you have to be able to run in it," asserted Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan's Bertrand Baguette. "The car was moving around out there with the wind, but it wasn't that tough."

But it was also rather cold for Indianapolis at the time of year, which meant that most of the teams weren't inclined to spend too much time fine-tuning the cars for these conditions unless and until it becomes clear that this is what they will face during qualifying and the race itself.

"It was the not the best conditions that we have seen in Indy, but it was okay," said Sam Schmidt Motorsports' Alex Tagliani, who ended up putting in the fastest lap so far seen at IMS in 2011. "We didn't run on the first day and Sunday was raining, so today was the first opportunity for us to run."

Tagliani finished tenth in last year's Indianapolis 500 running for FAZZT, the team bought out earlier this year by Sam Schmidt as the basis for their move across from Firestone Indy Lights. But despite that success last year, Talgliani knows he can't risk being complacent. "It's nice to start the week with a car that's quite strong. Hopefully we can build on it. You can never take anything for granted at this place. We have to stay on our toes all week and roll the car out for qualifying and hope for the best."

The Ganassi duo of Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti were both in the top ten times today in second and seventh respectively, despite having minimal running. "We had a pretty decent day for the Target team," said Dixon. "We switched to the primary car today, and it ran smooth. Hope to run a little more tomorrow."

"We shook down the primary car, which seemed pretty fast,' agreed Franchitti. "We should run more tomorrow, weather permitting."

Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves was involved in the Penske effort which seen as the main competition for Ganassi, and all seemed well in that garage too. "We got a chance to run side-by-side with Will, and we were pretty happy with the car," said Helio. "Hopefully tomorrow the weather cooperates, and we'll continue to work hard and get ready for qualifying."

Related Pictures

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Pippa Mann sits in her car in pitlane at Indianapolis Motor Speedway [Picture credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Danica Patrick on track under blue skies - Monday practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway [Picture credit: Dan Helrigel for IndyCar Media]
Graham Rahal dons his racing suit and helmet in the Indianapolis pit lane [Picture credit: Dan Helrigel for IndyCar Media]
Alex Tagliani out on track setting the fastest time of Monday practice for the 2011 Indianapolis 500, driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports [Picture credit: Mike Harding for IndyCar Media]
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