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Helio Fastest On Opening Day; Kanaan Is Shakedown Specialist

Really, it’s because of Tony Kanaan’s experience that he got more laps on Indianapolis Star Opening Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Kanaan set up all five Andretti Autosport cars entered in the Indianapolis 500 before regular drivers Marco Andretti, John Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Danica Patrick took hold of the steering wheels.

"We just wanted to make sure that all of our cars had the same feel and make sure that we had the same starting point for everybody,” Kanaan said. “So they voted me the guy to do that. They tell me it's because I'm a veteran, but usually that means you're old and I definitely don't see myself that way, so I'm not sure.

“But I'm glad to do it and I think we've got a good idea of where we are as a team and where we need to go for the 7-Eleven car."

Kanaan put four of the five cars, including his No. 11 Team 7-Eleven entry, in the top 16 on the time chart as 23 veterans participated in a two-hour practice session on Opening Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Helio Castroneves, driving the No. 3T Team Penske car, was the beneficiary of a significant tow that allowed him to post the fastest lap of the day of 39.7170 seconds (226.603 mph) on the 2.5-mile oval.

“It’s always good when you start with a positive wave, but there is certainly still a lot of work to go,” said Castroneves, who on May 30 will seek to win his record-tying fourth 500 Mile Race. “It was just the right time and the right moment with two cars in front of me. It seems to be very interesting this year even if you are away from another car, the draft is tremendous. It is going to play a lot of tricks during the month of May. So far, the 3T car seems to be where we want it so we won’t touch the car and keep at it.”

Twenty-seven driver/car combinations recorded 451 incident-free laps before yielding to rookies and drivers undertaking a refresher course. The same program, weather permitting, is scheduled for May 16.

Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Dario Franchitti (226.535 mph) and Scott Dixon (226.237) – who won the 2007 and 2008 Indy 500s – were next on the list. Dan Wheldon, runner-up to Castroneves in the 500 Mile Race last year, was fourth (225.609) in the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car. Ed Carpenter, competing in an IZOD IndyCar Series event for the first time since the ’09 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, was seventh quick (224.592 mph) in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka entry for Panther Racing/Vision Racing.

"Like Helio, pretty solid day,” Franchitti said. “Short day but good. To have the car feeling so good was really encouraging. I managed to do a couple laps and saw (Tony Kanaan) ahead of me and managed to draft off of him. This was a very positive start for our team. It helps that we unloaded off the truck with good cars. We have to take advantage of all the track time we can get in the next eight days.”

Pole Day, during which the top 24 starting positions will be set, is scheduled for Saturday, May 22. The 33-starting grid will be completed on Bump Day, Sunday, May 23.


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2010 Indy 500 tickets: Tickets for the 2010 Indianapolis 500, scheduled for Sunday, May 30, are on sale now. Race Day ticket prices start at just $20.

Fans can order tickets online at www.imstix.com, call the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700, or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area or visit the ticket office at the IMS Administration Building at the corner of Georgetown Road and 16th Street. Online orders can be made at any time. Hours for phone orders and the ticket office are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday-Friday.

Tickets for groups of 20 or more also are on sale. Contact the IMS Group Sales Department at (866) 221-8775 for more information.

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