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Indy 500: Dixon top as big names move up

Ganassi's Scott Dixon went to the top of the timesheets on Thursday with a lap just over 223mph, with other big names moving forward in readiness for the key Fast Friday test.
With qualifying weekend imminent, the big teams and star drivers were increasingly showing their confidence and their game plans on Thursday in a shortened five-hour Thursday afternoon practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which had to fit around the first runs out on track for Dragon Racing breaking in their brand new Chevrolet engines.

Scott Dixon put the Honda-powered Ganassi at the top of the timesheets for the first time since the practice started last Saturday, with a lap of 223.088mph (40.3428s) once again with the help of a little tow in traffic.

"We're just working on the race car, and I think we've made big improvements on how it feels," said Dixon. "For me, I feel happy because we made the car feel a lot nicer to drive, and especially in traffic it pulls up better, I think.

"These speeds are all big tows, so it doesn't really matter much," he added. "Tomorrow and Saturday are going to be totally different stories to see who's got what out there by themselves, so that will be interesting. But all in all, I think Honda and Team Target are doing pretty well."

Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing rookie star Josef Newgarden continued to impress by holding on to second place in the times with a lap of 222.709mph (40.4115s) just 0.0687s off Dixon's best lap.

"We've had a great week, and we just need to continue what we've been doing," said the 21-year-old. "Today we only worked on race setup. We'll start back on qualifying tomorrow when we get the boost. We just picked up today where we left off yesterday and continued working in the race direction."

The Ganassi squad were clearly stepping up a gear and starting to reveal their true pace on Thursday, with all four of their cars in the top ten by the chequered flag: Graham Rahal was in third (222.080mph, 40.5259s), Dario Franchitti eighth (221.344mph, 40.6606s) and Charlie Kimball ninth (221.321mph, 40.6649s).

"A great day," enthused Rahal. "We worked on a couple things we needed to, we found out a lot. We worked on our race cars, and we're pretty happy with it. We're excited to move on and work on some qualifying stuff. Come Sunday, when we get back to race trim, I think we're going to have a good car."

"We had a pretty good car last night, and we tried a lot of different stuff today and managed to make it worse!" admitted Franchitti. "Right at the end there, we made a couple of changes and got it better again. I think we're probably back to where we were last night, which is not a bad place."



Related Pictures

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Katherine Legge (c) 2012, Michael L. Levitt. LAT Photo (Photo Credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA)
Wade Cunningham talking in pit lane during rookie orientation for the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500. 10 May, 2012, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. (c) 2012, F. Peirce Williams.LAT Photo USA (Photo credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA)
Wade Cunningham in Mike Conway`s #14 car during rookie orientation for the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500. 10 May, 2012, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. (c) 2012, F. Peirce Williams.LAT Photo USA (Photo credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA)
Will Power #12 Verizon Team Penske during practice for the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500. 12-27 May, 2012, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. (c) 2012 Dan R. Boyd LAT Photo USA (Photo credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA)
Scott Dixon during practice for the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500. 12-27 May, 2012, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. (c) 2012, Michael L. Levitt. LAT Photo USA (Photo credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA)
Mikhail Aleshin waits on pitlane prior to practice at Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Carlos Munoz waits on pit lane in Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
The crew of Mikhail Aleshin go to work in the pits (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power and Carlos Munoz flank winner Mike Conway during their victory lap (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Carlos Huertas (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Jack Hawksworth enters the hairpin during practice at Long Beach (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Carlos Huertas waits on pitlane prior to the start (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon rolls out of pitlane during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Carlos Munoz with a champagne surprise (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrating his victory (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Carlos Munoz, Mike Conway and Will Power celebrate on the podium after the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Carlos Munoz, Mike Conway and Will Power celebrate on the podium after the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrates victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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JOHN - Unregistered

May 19, 2012 3:18 AM

Good luck guys but its the race itself - the 'Greatest Spectacle in Racing' I'm looking forward to! Hopefully like last year an unexpected winner- tragically sad, its not going to be Dan (Wheldon)



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