SPEEDWAY, Ind. (May 19, 2011) - Team Penske took advantage of a full day of practice to work on race setups, then made the most of the final few minutes of Thursday's session to post three of the four fastest laps of the day in preparation for the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500.
IZOD IndyCar Series points leader Will Power had the fastest lap of the day - 227.778 mph - in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda. Ryan Briscoe posted the third-best lap - 227.217 mph - in the No. 6 IZOD Team Penske machine, while Helio Castroneves was fourth-quickest in the No. 3 Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske car at 226.927 mph.
After the team missed the previous two days of practice due to bad weather, all three cars got in plenty of running Thursday as each driver topped 60 laps and Castroneves ran nearly 100. Power's pace-setting lap, recorded with just 12 minutes left in Thursday's six-hour session, was the fastest since Indy 500 practice opened last Saturday.
"The Verizon car was good today. We were able to do a lot work on our race setup and we are finding a good balance," said Power, who has claimed two wins and four poles in the first four races of the season. "At the end of day we trimmed out a bit and were fortunate enough to get a big tow at the right time. It was great to get on track and give all the fans something to see."
The Team Penske trio turned a combined 242 laps during Thursday's practice.
"It was a very good day, overall," said Briscoe." We worked on the race setup on the No. 6 IZOD Team Penske car, and I worked a lot with my teammates on track. We made a ton of changes throughout the day and we were very productive. We trimmed out the car at the end of the session and focused a bit more on speed. All in all, it was a very productive day."
As he takes aim at history, looking to tie the record of four Indianapolis 500 victories, Castroneves and his No. 3 car crew had a full day. The Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra team qualified for the Pit Stop Competition in the morning as they will try to win their fifth consecutive title on May 27 and then they ran 97 laps in practice.
"It was certainly a good and full day for the No. 3 Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra team," said Castroneves. "We ran a lot of laps and all of them were really about race setup. My teammates, Will and Ryan, did some qualifying runs so we know what we need to do there, but we really just focused on getting our car right for the race. Tomorrow will be all about speed for us. It's going to be fun!"
Practice resumes tomorrow with Fast Friday action beginning at 12 p.m. ET. Pole qualifying, which will determine the top 24 starting positions in the Indy 500, is set to begin at 11 a.m. ET Saturday. The 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 will be run on Sunday, May 29.