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Kanaan Moves To Top Of Chart As Pole Day Nears

Sunshine and Bruno Junqueira both made their first appearance of the week May 20 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Both were brief.

Junqueira, who’s waiting for the proverbial check in the mail so he can jump in the No. 33 FAZZT Race Team car and attempt to qualify May 22-23 for the Indianapolis 500, got some seat time – 14 laps to be precise – on the 2.5-mile oval to shake down the No. 29 William Rast/Bryan Herta Autosport car for rookie Sebastian Saavedra. It was at the request of team co-owner Bryan Herta.

“After Mario Andretti, I would put Bruno as the most insightful driver at the Speedway we’ve ever worked with,” Newman/Haas Racing general manager Brian Liles said.

Junqueira was quickly up to speed, topping 222 mph on a day shortened 55 minutes by light rain. The weather forecast isn’t conducive to running May 21, so Fast Friday was moved up a day. Thirty-seven driver/car combinations recorded 1,445 laps without incident.

Tony Kanaan topped the speed chart at 39.6870 seconds (226.775 mph) in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven car for Andretti Autosport. Paul Tracy, driving the No. 15 GEICO-KV Racing Technology car, bolted to second quick (226.322 mph) and Hideki Mutoh was third (226.230), his second consecutive day in the top five in the No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic car for Newman/Haas Racing.

“The 7-Eleven car felt good today, and I think although my speed was in a draft you have to have a good car to be able to do those kind of lap times,” Kanaan said. “We worked on qualifying setup today – a lot of people did as well – so we’ll see. It’s going to be an interesting Saturday if it rains tomorrow. It’s a very tight field so I’m happy overall.”

Twenty-seven cars were within .5796 of a second of the top. Eight different teams were represented in the top 10.

Marco Andretti (226.108) and 2005 race winner Dan Wheldon (226.106) also were in the top five at fourth and fifth, respectively. Helio Castroneves (226.080), the 2009 pole sitter, was followed by Team Penske teammate Will Power (226.836), Alex Tagliani (225.609), Graham Rahal (225.559) and Davey Hamilton (225.431).

Rahal crossed 225 mph for the first time this month in the No. 30 Quick Trim/Rahal Letterman Racing Special.

“I really don’t think we are too far off with this car,” said Rahal, who started on the inside of the front row in the 2009 race. “I’ve had cars here that have been fast in the last couple of years, but never one that is as fast as this one that feels as good as this car does. I am very excited about our chances as qualifying and the race get nearer.”

Ed Carpenter (11th at 225.283) was followed by fastest rookie Takuma Sato (225.047). Others of note include rookie Simona De Silvestro (15th at 224.838), John Andretti (19th at 224.182) and rookie Mario Romancini (25th at 223.644).

“Fortunately, we did get some track time early,” Andretti said. “Today was all about qualifying. We took the Window World Dallara out and did some qualifying runs. We tried to stay outside of traffic as much as we could and tried to get clean runs, which we did. We still need to find a little bit more speed, so we’re going to make some changes to the car. Fast Friday leading into qualifying day is going to be important, so hopefully we do get some track time tomorrow.”

***

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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