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In six hours of Fast Friday practice for the 96th Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, speeds went up, times went down but the same guy that led the speed charts since Thursday was still quickest around the legendary 2.5-mile oval.
Third generation racer Marco Andretti - who seems much more serene and confident this month than I've ever seen him - used the extra 10 kPa (kilopascals) given by IZOD IndyCar Series tech wizards to kick out a monster 227.540-mph on his 28th of 36 laps over the course of the afternoon. Andretti finished early, well before the end of Happy Hour.
Penske teammates Ryan Briscoe (No. 2 IZOD Chevy) and three-time winner Helio Castroneves (No. 3 Shell/Pennzoil Chevy turned the second and third quickest speeds, 226.835 and 226.716, respectively, followed by Andretti's teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL/Sundrop Chevy) at 226.400. See a corollary here? All four of the top five and eight of the top 10 runners have Chevrolet power behind them.
Target teammates Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti were the sole Honda drivers to crack the top-10 on Fast Friday, Dixon's No. 9 car in fifth and Franchitti's in ninth place.
There were 32 cars on the racetrack during the six-hour practice; Oriol Servia didn't make it out to practice as the team suspected a powertrain problem; his Chevy engine was fine but by the time the team removed and replaced it time had run out for the Catalan to take his No. 22 Panther/DRR machine out for exploratory laps. He'll have to get his practice in during the pre-qualifying session Saturday morning.
As has become customary, the two Lotus cars brought up the rear of the field, Jean Alesi running 213.423 to Simona de Silvestro's 212.516. Michel Jourdain's Honda met its maker early in the session, allowing the Mexican veteran only 12 laps of practice. Because he's racing only at Indy, there's no ten-place penalty like that suffered earlier in the week by Graham Rahal, who'll take his penalty at the Belle Isle road course the week after Indy.
After practice, the drawing for qualifying order took place. With Saturday's temperatures expected to climb into or even past the mid-80s, a low number was desired by all. Tony Kanaan drew No. 1, de Silvestro No. 2 and the primary car for Katherine Legge holds No. 5. Of the front-runners through the week, Dixon is eighth, Will Power is 11th, Charlie Kimball holds 12th place in the order, but the fastest man on the track, Andretti drew No. 56 of 61 draws.
After qualifying is completed at 4PM, the top nine will have their shootout to determine their order in the first three rows.