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Wheldon sets the oval pace

Ganassi duo Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon waited until the final half hour of the IRL IndyCar Series oval test at Homestead to depose the previously dominant Penske team from the top of the timesheets

Penske drver Sam Hornish's early 24.6494 second lap stood as the benchmark for the majority of the seven hour open session, before Wheldon and Dixon sneaked ahead as the day's activity came to a close. Hornish and team-mate Helio Castroneves - the pacesetter on Homestead's road course earlier in the week - ended up third and fourth, ahead of Tony Kanaan, the impressive Ed Carpenter, and Buddy Rice in the fastest Panoz.

All 18 cars present lapped within 0.6 seconds of Wheldon's best time, and the top seven were quicker than the 2005 pole speed.

"We're obviously fast," said reigning Champion Wheldon, who jumped ship from Andretti-Green to Ganassi over the winter. "It's going to be tough this year. It's going to be a fight."

Dixon reckoned that the actual lap times might have been more down to slipstreaming than genuine pace, but he was still confident that Ganassi were competitive. He also took another opportunity to highlight the role that the team's switch from Toyota to Honda power had played in their return to form.

"I think at the end it was more about tows, so the speed doesn't say much," said Dixon. "I think we were more comfortable at those speeds than some others. Some people just pulled out some big laps.

"All in all, I'm happy. It's nice to have some power and be consistently at the top."

Pos  Driver       Team               Chassis  Time
 1.  Wheldon      Ganassi            Dallara  24.5088
 2.  Dixon        Ganassi            Dallara  24.6150
 3.  Hornish      Penske             Dallara  24.6494
 4.  Castroneves  Penske             Dallara  24.6755
 5.  Kanaan       Andretti-Green     Dallara  24.8110
 6.  Carpenter    Vision             Dallara  24:8171
 7.  Rice         Rahal              Panoz    24.8425
 8.  Franchitti   Andretti-Green     Dallara  24.8570
 9.  Patrick      Rahal              Panoz    24.8741
10.  Scheckter    Vision             Dallara  24.8776
11.  Meira        Panther            Dallara  24.8925
12.  Sharp        Fernandez          Panoz    24.9001
13.  Andretti     Andretti-Green     Dallara  24.9162
14.  Matsuura     Fernandez          Dallara  24.9182
15.  Herta        Andretti-Green     Dallara  24.9294
16.  Dana         Rahal              Panoz    25.1458
17.  Giaffone     Foyt               Dallara  25.1499
18.  Lazier       Dreyer & Reinbold  Dallara  25.1595

 

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