Friday practice: Scheckter sets pace

Toyota drivers found speed late in the first practice session Friday for the Firestone Indy 225 at Nazareth, knocking Honda's Tony Kanaan off the top spot with fast laps from four drivers. Meanwhile, the trouble for Team Menard continued

Friday practice: Scheckter sets pace

Jaques Lazier, who replaced injured Vitor Meira in its Dallara-Chevrolet, spun and hit the wall 10 minutes into the first practice session, leaving the team scrambling to repair even more damage.

The team withdrew from last weekend's IRL IndyCar Series race at Kentucky Speedway after Meira crashed in practice and broke a wrist. He was replaced for the Nazareth event by Lazier, who was placed on the shelf earlier this season when team owner John Menard chose Meira. Lazier wasn't up to speed when the car surprised him by breaking away.

"I'm going to have to go back and ask the engineers if they noticed anything," said Lazier, who wasn't hurt in the crash. "We were warming up the car. I wasn't pushing it at all and I came off the corner easy. I never jumped on the throttle, just came off the corner easy, and the thing swapped ends on me."

Toyota dominated the end of the 90-minute morning session. Target Chip Ganassi Racing team-mates Tomas Scheckter and Scott Dixon had the fastest laps, with Scheckter nearly hitting 170 mph around the one-mile circuit.

Kanaan had held the top spot throughout much of the session before four Toyota drivers - Helio Castroneves, Gil de Ferran, Scheckter and Dixon - topped Kanaan's best lap of 166.709mph. Scheckter topped out at 169.888mph.

Sam Hornish Jr, who ran away with the Kentucky race in the Gen IV Chevy, had the ninth-fastest lap during Friday's morning session. Hornish, who said on Monday that he wouldn't return to Pennzoil Panther Racing, is expected to announce his 2004 plans sometime next week.

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Lazier replaces Meira at Menard
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