IRL IndyCar Series Final Kentucky Practice Filled With Twists, Turns
Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon led the final practice for today's Indy Racing League IndyCar Series "Meijer Indy 300 Presented by Coca-Cola and Secret" while three high-profile drivers encountered on-track challenges that may affect the race outcome at Kentucky Speedway later this afternoon.
Dixon, the 2003 series champion who begins the day fourth in the driver standings and 31 points behind championship leader and race polesitter Helio Castroneves, scorched the track with a session-leading 219.203-mph (24.3062 seconds) lap in his No. 9 machine. Dixon's lap beat Castroneves' pole winning effort by 0.875 mph and 0.0975 of a second.
Hornish, Jr., who will share the front row of the 19-car grid and starts the day eight points behind his Penske Racing teammate Castroneves in the series standings, lost power on pit road early in the session due to a fuel pressure issue. He will remain in his primary car No. 6 machine for today's 300-mile, 200-lap battle.
"Sam's not concerned about it, it's a non-issue for the team," Penske racing spokesman Adam Hoover said.
Hornish, Jr., turned the second-fastest lap in the session at 218.857 mph (24.3447 seconds).
The second potential race-changing development occurred late in the session when ninth-place qualifier Vitor Meira's No. 4 Panther Racing car tangled with the No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing car driven by 11th-place starter Danica Patrick on the track apron near the entrance to Turn 3. Both cars spun off the track and across an infield access road. Neither driver was injured.
Patrick's engineer Ray Leto said her car sustained damage to the side pod, engine, radiator and left rear suspension, but she will stay in the primary ride for this afternoon's race.
"I just saw orange," she said.
Meira, who finished second to defending race champion Scott Sharp by 0.0779 of a second at Kentucky Speedway last season, reported minimal damage to his car.
"We had a bunch of cars together," Meira said. "I think the No. 55 car (of Kosuke Matsuura) was a little too close coming into me. I didn't want to hit Danica. I tried to avoid it. That's it, that's racing.
"We're staying with this car. It's never a good thing, but we'll make the best of this situation. I expect the car to go to the race the same way it would have. We'll be competitive."
He began his day fifth in the series standings and 56 points behind Castroneves.
Drivers will take the green flag for Kentucky Speedway's seventh all-time IRL IndyCar Series event today at 3:45 p.m.
Tickets are available at the speedway main entrance located at Gate 16.
Story by Mike Schmaltz
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