The opening day of Indy Racing League action at the two-mile Michigan International Speedway was not blessed with fine weather but the rains held off long enough to allow the IRL contenders virtually a full practice session which saw Red Bull Team Cheever take an amazing 1-2-3.

Dark skies continued to threaten the ultra-quick, two-mile Michigan International Speedway throughout Friday morning but thankfully Mother Nature did not choose to spoil the first ever IRL practice session to be held at the D-shaped oval. In it, Red Bull Cheever trio Eddie Cheever, Buddy Rice and Tomas Scheckter swept the top three positions by a clear margin over the rest of the field.

Session leader Cheever, new boy Rice and Scheckter all lapped in the 221mph range while the rest of the 25-car field failed to get above the 220mph mark.

Cheever and Rice took advantage of their place in the second practice group to work in tandem as Rice continues to learn the intricacies of an IRL machine but even at this early stage it seems as though the Infiniti motor will be the motor to beat in qualifying trim at least. Cheever's 32.5448secs lap was followed by Rice at 32.5528secs and Scheckter at 32.5664secs.

Fourth quickest, a massive (in IRL terms) two tenths behind Scheckter was Felipe Giaffone in the leading G Force-Chevrolet while Buddy Lazier and Billy Boat completed the top three rows.

Laurent Redon bounced back after several weeks of bad fortune to place his Infiniti powered Conquest Racing Dallara in seventh place ahead of Sam Hornish Jr, Scott Sharp and Airton Dare.

Helio Castroneves was eleventh fastest with Tony Renna an impressive 12th quickest while new IRL points leader Gil de Ferran continued his tradition of making a slow start to the weekend by setting 22nd place.

Slowest of all was the returning Scott Harrington in the Brayton Racing entry. Unsurprisingly the Brayton team were some way off the pace after not entering a race since Indianapolis and Harrington could take some time getting back up to speed more than two years after his last full-IRL appearance.

 

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