Tracy fastest on day one at Indy
|By Jeff Olson
||Wednesday, May 6th 2009, 04:40 GMT
Paul Tracy proved he has not lost any of his speed by recording the fastest lap of the first day of track activity in preparation for the 93rd Indianapolis 500.
The Canadian, who has not been at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since the infamous finish of 2002 and has barely raced at all since the end of the 2007 season, outpaced Scott Sharp in the final minutes of Tuesday's refresher and rookie sessions with a lap of 40.3426 seconds (223.089mph), two tenths better than the Panther Racing driver.
Tracy, who has returned for the event with KV Racing, said he had not expected to get that much speed out of the car so quickly.
"We thought we would run 219(mph) with the track conditions, temperature and the set-up they had," Tracy said. "The team was really happy with what we did. We ran faster than they qualified last year."
Sharp, who has brought his Patron sponsorship back to IndyCar racing for the 500 while continuing his American Le Mans Series programme with Highcroft Racing, said he fully expected the Panther entry to be over 220mph on the first day.
"I pretty much expected it," Sharp said. "I looked at ROP (rookie session) speeds from last year, and figured, 'OK, if we can get up into the 221s or 222s, we should be in good shape.'"
Robert Doornbos, Raphael Matos and Alex Tagliani also posted laps over 218 mph while completing their rookie tests.
Indy's Rookie Orientation Programme requires new drivers to pass through four phases that include 10 laps at each of the following speed minimums: 200 mph, 205, 210 and 215-plus. Doornbos, Matos, Tagliani and Mike Conway all completed the ROP without issue, while the only other drivers in ROP, Nelson Philippe and Stanton Barrett, continued to work toward completion of the four phases.
Sharp and Tracy were allowed refreshers during ROP and were not required to complete the phases.
Tracy has not raced at Indy since the 2002 race, when Helio Castroneves was declared the winner when a yellow came out late in the race. Tracy's team owner, Barry Green, appealed the decision, citing video and time and scoring evidence, but IMS officials sided with Castroneves.
The ROP will continue on Wednesday morning, before the entire field gets on track for the first practice session ahead of this weekend's qualifying days.