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Dixon Fast Again; Tagliani, FAZZT Continue To Impress

Wednesday Practice Results

FAZZT Race Team general manager Rob Edwards and chief engineer Allen McDonald prescribed a practice regimen for the week based on their experience and the premise that if your car is fast in qualifying, then it will be good in the race.

So far in pre-qualifications practice sessions for the Indianapolis 500, their driver, Alex Tagliani, has been right with the program.

Tagliani recorded the third-quickest lap May 19 on the 2.5-mile oval as 35 drivers posted 2,282 laps (Tony Kanaan led the way with 134) in a full six-hour session without incident. E.J. Viso, whose No. 8 PDVSA KV Racing Technology car made contact with the Turn 1 SAFER Barrier on May 18, was cleared to drive but he didn’t make it onto the track in his backup car.

"What is there to say besides the car is very, very fast,” said Tagliani, his voice still raspy from a bout of bronchitis. “We're trying little things here and there, but the car is very good, so we don't want to mess around with it too much. There will be plenty of opportunity to run with full tanks, and right now the car reacts well to the changes in downforce, so we're going to stay focused on qualifying.

“I'm just following the plans of the boys in the front, and they seem to be doing a great job so far. I'm just a follower at the moment."

He followed Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, who topped the speed chart for the second consecutive day, at 39.6526 seconds (226.971 mph) and Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe (39.7118 seconds; 226.633 mph). Twenty-five drivers were within .5968 of a second of the pacesetter, and seven different teams and seven different countries were represented in the top 10.

“I think we are right where we need to be,” said Dixon, the 2008 race winner. “The 9 team logged a lot of laps (68), and the activity level seemed to be picking up quite a bit on the track.”

Hideki Mutoh, driving the No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic car for Newman/Haas Racing, jumped to fourth (225.926 mph) and Dario Franchitti in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car (225.850) was fifth on his 37th birthday. IZOD IndyCar Series points leader Will Power, driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, was sixth (225.703), followed by Andretti Autosport’s Kanaan in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven car (225.660) and defending 500 Mile Race champion Helio Castroneves (225.563) in the No. 3 Team Penske entry.

“I was able to run behind four cars and my car was drafting well and I could catch people, and that is a strong point for Race Day,” Mutoh said. “After 5 p.m. we ran with our qualifying setup. We didn’t trim the car out all the way, but the lap times weren’t that bad. I think the Formula Dream /Panasonic team is fast both ways.”

Townsend Bell, who finished fourth last year, cracked the top 10 at 224.743 mph in the No. 99 Herbalife Chip Ganassi/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car, while Mario Moraes was 10th (224.740) in the No. 32 KV Racing Technology car.

The two-stage Pole Day qualifications are scheduled for Saturday, May 22. Twenty-four positions will be set, with the remaining nine filled in the next day. The new format includes cars making four-lap qualifying attempts from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. At 4:30 p.m., the top nine cars by their four-lap cumulative time will return to run for the PEAK Performance Pole Award presented by AutoZone and fill the front three rows.

“Friday, the weather still looks questionable so we're still working toward having the car where we want it to be by Thursday night for qualifying on Saturday in case we can't run on Friday due to weather,” FAZZT Race Team’s Edwards said. “We've been working on having a good, consistent car, and we believe that will be good for us in the race, as well."

Others focused on race setup, with multi-car teams able to divvy the workload.

“We were able to get quite a lot of work done on race setup-related items,” said Briscoe, who has started on the front row the past two years. “The Team Penske cars were able to take advantage of being a three-car operation, and we worked together on track today helping one another find speed and comfort.”

Others picking up speed as qualifications approach include Graham Rahal (11th at 224.650 mph) in the No. 30 The Quick Trim/Rahal Letterman Racing Special, Ed Carpenter (13th at 224.537) in the No. 20 Panther/Vision Fuzzy’s Vodka entry, Davey Hamilton (14th at 224.460) in the No. 21 HP de Ferran Dragon Racing car, and race rookies Ana Beatriz (17th at 224.263) in the No. 25 Ipiranga/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing car and Takuma Sato (18th at 224.255) in the No. 5 Lotus-KV Racing Technology entry.

“We worked on out full race setup, which was really good for me,” Hamilton said. “Today was my first time in traffic in a year. This isn't easy.”

***

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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