Castroneves sets the pace at Indianapolis

Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves

Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves

Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves has set the pace on the opening day of practice for the biggest event on the IndyCar calendar in Indianapolis today.

Castroneves, attempting to become just the fourth man to win four Indianapolis 500 crowns this May, topped the timesheets ahead of Target Chip Ganassi Racing team-mates Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon.

The Brazilian was pleased to kick off his 2010 Indy campaign on a high note.

“It’s always good when you start with a positive wave, there is certainly still a lot of work to go,” said Castroneves.

“Absolutely, to start in a positive way certainly makes us feel good about where to go. It was just the right time at the right moment.”

By far the busiest man at the Brickyard today was Andretti Autosport driver Tony Kanaan, with the Brazilian veteran shaking down all five of his team’s cars at the 2.5-mile speedway today.

It made for the unusual situation where Kanaan, who has yet to win at Indy, with the fifth, sixth, 15th, 16th and 25th fastest times of the day – see full results below.

Aussie IndyCar ace Ryan Briscoe at Indianapolis

Aussie IndyCar ace Ryan Briscoe at Indianapolis

“We just wanted to make sure that all of our cars had the same feel and make sure that we had the same starting point for everybody,” said Kanaan.

“So they voted me the guy to do that. They tell me it;s because I’m a veteran, but usually that means you’re old, and I definitely don’t see myself that way, so I’m not sure. But I’m glad to do it, and I think we’ve got a good idea of where we are as a team and where we need to go for the 7-Eleven car.

Aussie ace Ryan Briscoe was pleased to get back to Indy.

“It was good to be out on track,” said Briscoe.

“It felt great to be turning laps at the Speedway on opening day. There were a lot of familiar faces and a lot of fans. Today was a good smooth start for Team Penske to the beginning of this year’s Indianapolis 500.”

IndyCar Series points leader and fellow Australian Will Power said he felt more comfortable than ever at the Speedway today given his new level of speed and experience.

“We went out in our T car today for the first practice of the month, and I felt very comfortable,” said Power.

Australian driver and IndyCar Series championship leader Will Power at Indy

Australian driver and IndyCar Series championship leader Will Power at Indy

“I have more IndyCar experience now, and it felt very natural to get back to work in the Verizon car here at Indy. We’re definitely happy with the season so far, but the only thing we’re focused on now is being quick here.

“Verizon partnered with our team last year and we were able to finish fifth in the Indy 500, so I’m excited to be back and to have the chance to improve on what we accomplished last year.”

Kiwi champ Scott Dixon said that Day One in this year’s month of May activities was all about preparation, rather than outright speed.

“We basically just ran the backup car today to shake it down,” said Dixon.

“We were pretty conservative on the setup, especially on the downforce levels. All we wanted to do was make sure it ran properly.

“We put it away, and the Target team will switch over to the primary car tonight. We expect to run the same program tomorrow with the primary, then go to full runs starting on Monday.”

Canadian Alex Tagliani did not take to the track today in his #77 FAZZT Race Team entry as he is still recovering from a recent bout of bronchitis, which saw him hospitalised for 48 hours.

RESULTS: Day One Practice – 2010 Indy 500

Pos Car Driver Team Speed (mph)
1. #3 Helio Castroneves Team Penske 226.603
2. #10 Dario Franchitti Target Chip Ganassi Racing 226.535
3. #9 Scott Dixon Target Chip Ganassi Racing 226.237
4. #4 Dan Wheldon Panther Racing 225.609
5. #43 Tony Kanaan Andretti Autosport 224.793
6. #11 Tony Kanaan Andretti Autosport 224.685
7. #20 Ed Carpenter Panther Racing 224.592
8. #26 Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport 224.466
9. #6 Ryan Briscoe Team Penske 224.384
10. #43 John Andretti Andretti Autosport 224.324
11. #12 Will Power Team Penske 224.299
12. #32 Mario Moraes KV Racing Technology 223.933
13. #06 Hideki Mutoh Newman/Haas Racing 223.903
14. #7 Danica Patrick Andretti Autosport 223.651
15. #26 Tony Kanaan Andretti Autosport 223.516
16. #7 Tony Kanaan Andretti Autosport 223.208
17. #14 Vitor Meira AJ Foyt Enterprises 223.188
18. #2 Raphael Matos de Ferren Dragon Racing 222.858
19 #8 EJ Viso KV Racing Technology 222.664
20. #67 Sarah Fisher Sarah Fisher Racing 222.385
21. #18 Milka Duno Dale Coyne Racing 222.050
22. #37 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport 221.707
23. #24 Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 221.502
24. #19 Alex Lloyd Dale Coyne Racing 221.341
25. #37 Tony Kanaan Andretti Autosport 221.230
26. #22 Justin Wilson Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 221.053
27. #15 Paul Tracy KV Racing Technology 219.514

RESULTS: Day One Rookie Orientation – 2010 Indy 500

Pos Car Driver Team Speed (mph)
1. #23 Tomas Schekter Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 221.616
2. #30 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Racing 219.943
3. #99 Townsend Bell Sam Schmidt Motorsports 219.624
4. #66 Jay Howard Sarah Fisher Racing 215.039
5. #25 Ana Beatriz Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 213.802
6. #78 Simona de Silvestro HVM Racing 213.797
7. #5 Takuma Sato KV Racing Technology 210.997
8. #29 Sebastian Saavedra Brian Herta Autosport 210.929
9. #34 Mario Romancini Conquest Racing 185.452
10. #36 Bertrand Baguette Conquest Racing 135.915
11. #41 AJ Foyt IV AJ Foyt Enterprises 108.035

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