In the first practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225 on Thursday, Dario Franchitti led the way with a lap of 21.5665 seconds (171.099mph).
“My first order of business today was to learn the track and the first run felt good,” Franchitti said. “It is definitely a lot easier to learn a place when the car is doing what you want it to. I think we are in good shape now and we will be chasing the track a little bit. We’ll see if we can continue this form into the weekend.”
His lap is only a tenth off of the record at New Hampshire, which was set by Andrew Riberio in 1995 at a lap of 21.466 seconds. Ribeiro is now the manager for series driver Ana Beatriz.
Franchitti’s Ganassi teammate Scott Dixon was in second (21.6204 seconds), followed by Graham Rahal (21.6644).
“The car felt good today,” Dixon said. “We struggled at the beginning of the day with a few set-up changes we had to go through. Traffic is chaotic here because it seems like some cars are very slow and you catch them fast. So must of the challenge is dealing with that. We spent a lot of time on working on the race car and I feel pretty comfortable now. The Target cars were quick today and so was Graham (Rahal) so we are in good shape for now but we will see what happens Saturday and Sunday.”
KV Racing Technology-Lotus teammates Tony Kanaan (21.7368) and Taku Sato (21.7713) rounded out the top five. The top 10 in the 27-car lineup were separated by less than four-tenths of a second.
“We had a pretty solid day today,” Kanaan said. “We took our time to go out in the morning practice, but we were fast right away and kept improving the car during the afternoon run. I think that there are some minor tweaks that we can try on Saturday before qualifying to see if we can get the car a little bit faster, but overall I’m happy with how the day went.”
“It was a good first day,” Sato said. “We ran a lot of miles and I learned a lot. This track is quite unique, but we were up to speed very quickly and worked on various things. It was a very productive day.”
During the session, Pippa Mann made significant contact with the wall, however was cleared to drive for the rest of the weekend by medical staff.
“We worked very hard throughout the morning on making the car better and the RLL guys made some really good changes to the car that felt like they were going to help us,” she said. “We found some grip and some stability and were working on gathering speed over the bumps when we had our incident. I am disappointed but I know that the whole team will work very hard to get everything where we need it to be for Saturday’s qualifying!”
The race on Sunday August 14th marks Team Penske’s 1,300 start in open-wheel racing and Helio Castroneves is set make his 200th career Indy car start for the team.
“Our Guidepoint Systems Team Penske car still needs a little something,” he said. “We me made a lot of changes today and we learned a few things. Now we just have to sort through the data and take the next step. We will be ready to go on Saturday.”
There are two practice sessions Aug. 13 prior to two-lap qualifications with no practice planned for Friday August 12th.