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Competition Tightens As Five Different Teams Step Into Top Five

Tuesday Practice Results

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway re-opened for business shortly after 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 18, and teams/drivers quickly got down to business after the previous day of precious track time was scrubbed because of persistent rain.

Dialing in race setups was the objective for most teams on a chilly day not conducive to big speed, with the focus turning to qualification simulations the next few days in preparation for the two-stage run May 22 for the PEAK Performance Pole Award presented by AutoZone. With the almost five hours available for the session, a few things began to come into focus -- primarily that the competition is exceptionally close.

• Five different teams were represented in the top five on the speed chart.
• The top 21 drivers were separated by .5755 of a second.
• No. 1 (Scott Dixon) and No. 36 (Milka Duno) were separated by 1.197 seconds.
• Drivers pounded out 1,590 laps (of a total for three days of 3,562).

Last year was the closest field in the history of the ‘500’ at 3.0967 seconds. That record might not last long.

Dixon, driving the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, posted a quick lap of 39.7265 seconds (226.549 mph) on the 2.5-mile oval. Mario Moraes was second quick (225.913 mph) in the No. 32 KV Racing Technology entry, and Marco Andretti in the No. 26 Team Venom Energy car for Andretti Autosport was next at 25.751.

“I think we’re getting there, but it’s still quite early for the Venom car,” said Andretti, who has finished second and third in four starts in the ‘500.’ “I’d say our time today was in a tow but, then again, so were most of the top-10 times. The good thing is that we’ve been checking things off our list, both good and bad. So we’re getting a lot of answers on things in testing and that’s what we’re here to do. We’re also trying to prepare for the warmer weather that’s supposed to be coming.

“We know that as it gets hotter it’s going to be less downforce on the car. We’re trying to find the most mechanical grip as possible now so when balance comes into play we’ll have done the right thing.”

Alex Tagliani, recovering from a bout of bronchitis, was fourth quick (225.394) in the No. 77 FAZZT Race Team entry. Dan Wheldon, cleared to drive after suffering a foot bruise in a practice crash May 16, was fifth (225.378) in the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car.

"It actually helped the National Guard Panther Racing team that there wasn’t any track activity (May 17) because it gave the boys an extra day to really take their time and put the No. 4 car back together,” said Wheldon, the runner-up in the 2009 race and ’05 champion. “They did a great job working on it the last couple days. They rolled it out at the start of the day and I think my fourth lap we were quickest we’ve been all month and I was (third on the speed chart).

“We have a lot of momentum on the team and I’m not at all surprised we were able to come out of the gate so quickly.”

The checkered flag flew eight minutes early after the No. 8 PDVSA KV Racing Technology car of E.J. Viso made contact with the SAFER Barrier at the exit of Turn 1. Viso was transported to Methodist Hospital for further evaluation after complaining of back pain.

***

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.

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