Andretti Second Fastest at RIR

MarcoPracticeJpg
It has been said that Richmond International Raceway is one of the toughest tracks on the IndyCar® Series schedule. However, rookie sensation Marco Andretti turned the first laps of his 19-year-old life on the ¾-mile oval today and came away with the second fastest lap time among all 19 drivers at the open test session. If his first day at America's Premier Short Track is any indication, it may be safe to call Andretti a "natural" when it comes to taming the shortest track on the schedule. The real test comes Saturday night at the SunTrust Indy Challenge Presented by XM Satellite Radio. "I really enjoy this place," said Andretti, son of open-wheel great Michael Andretti and grandson of motorsports legend Mario Andretti. "I think it's definitely a driver's track, which I love. It¿s a driver-engineer track, where you need to work. You really have to drive the car here." Andretti¿s lap time of 15.9466 seconds (169.315 mph) was just behind Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr., who turned in a lap time of 15.7520 seconds (171.407 mph). Unfortunately for Hornish, the two-time series champion crashed in Turn 4 at the end of the open test. ¿We had a great practice session today, and we were really happy with the Marlboro Team Penske car,¿ said Hornish, who visited Gatorade Victory Lane at Richmond International Raceway in 2002. ¿Unfortunately, we had an incident at the end of practice. I feel bad for the crew. They gave me a great car all day. We¿ll regroup for practice tomorrow, and hopefully we¿ll get the back-up car as dialed in as the primary one was this afternoon.¿ Andretti Green Racing placed all four of their drivers in the top six. Tony Kanaan posted the third fastest lap speed at 169.212 mph, Dario Franchitti was fifth at 168.569 mph and Bryan Herta was sixth at 168.530. Scott Sharp¿s lap speed of 168.674 was good for fourth. ¿I was doing race stuff today because that¿s what we need to worry about,¿ said Kanaan. ¿An extra day at Richmond is really valuable for us as a team because we¿ve struggled in the past here. I¿m pleased with how the day of testing went.¿ ¿It was a good day,¿ said Franchitti, who finished runner-up at last year¿s SunTrust Indy Challenge. ¿It was nice to get those extra four hours to do some development work and also to tune the car for these conditions. Track time is always nice to have and I think we learned some stuff. Hopefully we can use it for tomorrow and Saturday.¿ The lap times for the full field are as follows:

Pos

Driver Name

Best Time

Best Speed

Best Lap

Total Laps

1

Sam Hornish Jr. (6)

15.7520

171.407

106

130

2

Marco Andretti (26)

15.9466

169.315

37

104

3

Tony Kanaan (11)

15.9563

169.212

88

105

4

Scott Sharp (8)

16.0072

168.674

103

136

5

Dario Franchitti

(27)

16.0172

168.569

94

116

6

Bryan Herta (7)

16.0209

168.530

87

98

7

Kosuke Matsuura (55)

16.0879

167.828

96

128

8

Helio Castroneves (3)

16.0999

167.703

25

149

9

Ed Carpenter (20)

16.1072

167.627

98

102

10

Dan Wheldon (10)

16.1089

167.609

122

126

11

Buddy Rice (15)

16.1760

166.914

56

77

12

Tomas Scheckter (2)

16.2814

165.833

96

121

13

Scott Dixon (9)

16.2978

165.667

15

88

14

Vitor Meira (4)

16.3148

165.494

83

100

15

Jeff Simmons (17)

16.4426

164.208

77

81

16

Danica Patrick (16)

16.4961

163.675

79

91

17

Felipe Giaffone (14)

16.5697

162.948

85

104

18

Eddie Cheever Jr. (51)

16.5747

162.899

80

155

19

Buddy Lazier (5)

16.9070

159.697

42

47

All of these drivers will compete Saturday night ¿under the lights¿ at the SunTrust Indy Challenge Presented by XM Satellite Radio. Tickets for Saturday night include a seat for the Richmond Times-Dispatch 100 USAC Silver Crown Series Race. The weekend starts Friday with WRIC-TV8 Pole Qualifying for the IndyCar Series and the USAC National Sprint Car Series race. Tickets for Saturday are

only $35 (reserved) and $30 (general admission). General admission seats for Friday are only $15 and include an autograph session with all of the IndyCar Series drivers. Children 12 and under are admitted free both nights with a ticketed adult in general admission sections. Please call 1-866-455-7223 or visit www.rir.com.

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