Penske Pair Top Charts At 223; Power Gaining Speed For Weekend

Thursday, May 15, 2008

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Sixteen cars sprinted onto the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval in the first two minutes of practice May 15 under the premise that you have to take advantage of every minute of track availability left.

Rain remained to the west so 35 driver/car combinations could get almost a full six hours of activity - from qualifying simulations to running in traffic to full-tank runs to hot pit stops. Another 18 minutes, and it would have been the third complete session of six scheduled so far this month, but it still was productive as 2,628 laps - more than one-third the total for the month - were recorded.

An afternoon of track activity is scheduled Friday, May 16 in advance of Second Day Qualifying, during which positions 12-33 on the starting grid will be filled for the May 25 race.

"We spent most of the day working on our race trim," said Max Papis, driver of the No. 44 Rubicon Race Team/Lifelock car, who posted a fast lap of 219.920 mph (40.9239 seconds). "I was not as fast as the top cars; we were maybe a mile off the pace. We tried to take off a little downforce, not qualifying trim. But in that direction and for whatever reason we didn't get all we wanted in speed from the car. As happy as I am for a race car, we still need to figure out a little more for qualifying to get where we want to be for Saturday."

Front-row starter Ryan Briscoe (223.708 mph; 40.2311 seconds) and Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves (223.284; 40.3075) topped the speed chart. Pole sitter Scott Dixon (223.192) was third, followed by Andretti Green Racing's Tony Kanaan (222.880) and Luczo Dragon Racing's Tomas Scheckter (222.804).

"We had a great opportunity during the session to run a lot of laps and try several different things," said Castroneves, the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and current IndyCar Series points leader. "I'm happy with the progress we made on the Team Penske car, and I think we're definitely moving in the right direction. This afternoon was certainly needed after all the rain we've been getting, and a day like today really helps to build our confidence on the track."

It also helped non-qualifiers such as KV Racing Technology's Will Power (sixth overall at 222.657 mph; 40.4210), Roth Racing's John Andretti (seventh at 222.474; 40.4542) and Dale Coyne Racing's Bruno Junqueira (10th at 222.303; 40.4852).

"We were able to get through a few test items, did one qualifying run and a couple of long runs, which were interesting," said Power, driver of the No. 8 Aussie Vineyards-Team Australia car. "We are making slow progress, but I think now we really need to focus on the race setup. I think that is the most critical for us if we are going to finish well in this race."
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Indy 500 tickets on sale: Tickets are on sale for the 2008 Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 25, the 92nd running of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

Fans can order tickets online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area, or at the ticket office at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.

Hours for phone orders and the ticket office are 8 a.m.-6 p.m. (ET) Monday-Sunday during May, with special hours of 6 a.m.-1 p.m. on Race Day, Sunday, May 25. Online orders can be made at any time. Race Day ticket prices start at just $20.