Andretti Autosport's Danica Patrick might be bidding farewell to IndyCar after this weekend, but she seems determined to do it in style before her move to NASCAR Nationwide Series full-time in 2012.
Her laptime of 24.7349s set late in the day on the 1.544-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway oval amounted to 224.719mph, which by anyone's standards was very quick indeed.
"It's friggin' fast here, almost a 225 lap is like Indy speeds," Patrick agreed after the end of the session. "The track is nice and smooth and we'll be three-wide out there, which will be exciting. The race is going to be crazy and the crashes will be spectacular. Nothing would let me turn the page better than winning here."
"Yeah, you could tell with Danica and I talking, it's so fast - it's just so fast and so close to each other, it's exciting," agreed Newman/Haas' Oriol Servia, who finished second in the times. "The fans are going to get a good show. It's kind of crazy. It's great that the track is smooth, you can be consistent and try to keep your car in line and follow the car in front when you're three wide.
"There's really no room for error. It's exciting, I'm sure on TV and that the fans here will have a great show," he added.
Patrick's team mate Ryan Hunter-Reay was third fastest in what turned out to be one of Andretti Autosport's strongest overall term performances of the year in a weekend session, with Mike Conway in fifth and Marco Andretti seventh fastest.
"We ran pretty well as a team. I think we have great race cars," said Hunter-Reay. "It's going to be hot and it's going to intense for 200 laps."
"It is going to be a crazy race on Sunday. This place is fast," agreed Conway. "We'll see how things go in Friday's practice and qualifying."
Scott Dixon finished the Thursday times in fourth place, while his team mate Dario Franchitti - who will be fighting it out on Sunday with Will Power for the championship - was ninth. Neither of the Ganassi drivers was particularly happy with the way the day had gone, however.
"I think it was a pretty marginal start to the weekend for us, really," said a nonplussed Dixon. "We made a lot of changes to both cars but nothing really changed where we were at on the time sheets. We'll go back and discuss it and see what we can come up with for qualifying."