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Helio Reaches 227; All Rookies Pass Test

Sunday Session Results

Seven rookies passed muster and another half-dozen breezed through their refresher programs. Soon afterward – on a cloudy and cool afternoon – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway came to life with 33 drivers getting the green flag to seek the speed necessary to pocket the $175,000 pole prize and the consistency to attain a bigger payday May 30.

Day 2 of practice for the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 16 was interrupted a few times for moisture on the mammoth racing surface, but it didn’t drench lap speeds. For the second day in a row, Helio Castroneves paced the field with a lap of 227.046 mph (39.6395 seconds), and six topped 225 mph.

“Despite the weather, with it raining off and on, we were still able to work on some areas to make the car better for the race,” Castroneves said. “It's always good to be out there learning something. On the fast lap, I just put myself in a good position to get a good draft and we wound up with a faster lap than yesterday (226.603 mph)."

Practice for all entrants continues Monday, May 17 (noon-6 p.m. ET) in preparation for new two-stage Pole Day qualifications Saturday, May 22.

The seven drivers completed the four-phase Rookie Orientation Program, which consists 10 laps each of 200-205 mph, 205-210 mph, 210-215 mph, 215+ mph and is mandatory in order to be eligible to compete in the Indianapolis 500. They then joined in the all-drivers' session for the remaining three hours.

Overall, 1,375 laps were recorded with a lone incident in which Dan Wheldon’s No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car made contact with the retaining wall in Turn 4. He was sixth quick (224.583 mph) at the time of the incident.

“It’s obviously not the way you want to start the second day at Indianapolis,” said Wheldon, who bruised his right foot in the incident. “I think the team is very well prepared for this month, and everyone could see the National Guard Panther Racing car’s pretty quick.”

So are a number of others. Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon (226.202) and Dario Franchitti (226.044) followed Castroneves, who is seeking a record-tying fourth 500 Mile Race victory. Will Power, the IZOD IndyCar Series points leader driving the No. 12 Verizon team Penske entry, emerged with a best lap of 225.600 mph, and Tony Kanaan was fifth at 225.524 mph in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven car for Andretti Autosport.

“The weather could be much different next weekend so we’ll have to wait and see if what we learned today is helpful for qualifying,” Power said. “All the Team Penske cars seem to be quick, and we’ll continue to fine-tune things so we’re prepared when it comes time to qualify.”

Mario Moraes, seeking to qualify for his third Indy 500, also topped 225 mph in the No. 32 KV Racing Technology car (225.043) – one of four entries for the team co-owned by Jimmy Vasser and Kevin Kalkhoven.

“We are right where we want to be with our settings,” Moraes said. “Our team is working on a variety of things with each of the drivers. We’ll continue to work on our program that was laid out for us before we came to the track this month.”

Ryan Briscoe (224.559), Marco Andretti (224.489) and Graham Rahal (224.320) also were in the top 10. A.J. Foyt Racing’s Vitor Meira and A.J. Foyt IV were in the top 15, while Townsend Bell (like Foyt an Indy 500-only participant) was 12th in the No. 99 Herbalife Ganassi/Schmidt Racing car.

“Today was the first day that we really started working on se up -- on the ‘500’ program,” said Meira, who last year suffered broken vertebrae in a Race Day crash. “It was very good, we tried different setups, learned about the setups that we have, they’re both good but one is better than the other.”

Ana Beatriz (22nd at 221.705), who has competed in the past two Firestone Freedom 100 races at the Speedway, led the rookies.

***

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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