If Carb Day is any indication of things to come, then Target Chip Ganassi Racing may be in prime condition for Sunday’s running of the Indianapolis 500.
Dario Franchitti was fastest in the final practice, and teammate Scott Dixon’s crew came away winners in the Pit Stop Competition.
Franchitti turned in a speed of 222.360 mph for his hot lap, but Dixon was right behind him with a 222.274. “The car is real good. We’ve got a good set-up for Race Day. It would have been nice to have had that motor for qualifying,” Franchitti said.
Marco Andretti was third quickest with a 221.702, and Takuma Sato recorded a 221.078 for fourth quick. “Obviously, the goal today wasn’t to be the fastest. I think the car is ready. I think the track was a bit green at the start, but toward the end there, I got my good race car back. It should be good,” said Andretti.
Pole sitter Ryan Briscoe was fifth with a 221.025. “We made a lot of changes and made good use of the time. We learned a bit, and this positions us nicely as we head into the race.”
Dixon’s crew earned the $50,000 in prize money for moving Dixon through the brackets, defeating Oriol Servia in the finals of the annual pit competition. “It’s nice to have days like this and moments for the guys because, you know, they are forgotten sometimes but prepare harder than all of us. So they’ve worked hard, extremely hard over the winter. There’s been a few change-ups and things like that, but today was flawless. They didn’t make a mistake.”
The winner of the competition has gone on to win the Indianapolis 500 six times, most recently with Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves in 2009. It was the first-ever win for Target Chip Ganassi Racing in the pit stop contest. The team had finished second three times, in 1992 with driver Eddie Cheever Jr., in 2002 with Jeff Ward and in 2011 with Dario Franchitti.
This was the first time Scott Dixon and Panther/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Servia advanced to the final of the IZOD Pit Stop Challenge.
In the Firestone Freedom 100, Esteban Guierrieri started in the back of the field, but took the lead on lap 38 to finish as the winner under a yellow. The young driver from Argentina previously won in Long Beach earlier this season. “I’m really, really happy. It was one of those weekends that I trusted I was going to finish well even though I qualified bad. From last to first, I’m really happy.”
Guierrieri drives for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. The SSM team has won four consecutive Freedom 100 races and seven of the last 10.
Although there is no track action on Saturday, the several activities are available to fans beginning with a Rookie of the Year question and answer session on the Coca Cola stage. Fans can also get the 2012 starting grid driver autograph from 9 to 10 a.m.
The public drivers’ meeting is from 10:30 to 11 a.m. in the Tower Terrace. A memorabilia show runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Plaza Pavilion. Also from 1 to 4 p.m. is an Indy 500 veterans autograph session.