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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Castroneves Paces Sunday Practice

For the second day in a row, Helio Castroneves and Team Penske set the pace in early Indianapolis 500 practice, and for the second day in a row, the two Chip Ganassi Racing cars were hot on his trail.

Castroneves' 39.639 second hot lap was under a tenth of a second better than yesterday's pace-setter, but was still good enough to beat the rest of the field. Scott Dixon, who was second best, actually turned a slower lap than his best yesterday, but still moved up a spot from Saturday's results. In all, 14 drivers turned slower laps on Sunday than they did on Saturday, with names like Dario Franchitti, Dan Wheldon, and Danica Patrick included in that list. Wheldon's run, however, was sabotaged by an incident in Turn 4.

33 drivers participated in Sunday's practice, with seven rookies completing Rookie Orientation and gaining eligibility to drive with the experienced veterans. They included Ana Beatriz (22nd), Mario Romancini (28th), Takuma Sato (29th), Bertrand Baguette (31st), Sebastien Saavedra (33rd), Jay Howard (did not participate), and Simona de Silvestro (did not participate). Howard maintains the best single lap on any rookie, with a 40.397 run in the morning's rookie practice. Howard remains the only rookie to break the 222 mph barrier on any given lap.

Over two days of practice, Romancini has driven the most laps around the circuit, with 120 - 91 in rookie practices and 29 in today's feature. Thus far the only other driver to break 100 laps completed is Baguette, Romancini's Conquest Racing teammate. Ryan Hunter-Reay's 16 laps stand as the fewest completed of any driver.

As for drivers to break 40 seconds thus far, the list is short: Castroneves, Franchitti, Dixon, Wheldon, Will Power, Tony Kanaan, and Mario Moraes. Of those seven, only Wheldon failed to qualify on Pole Day last year; all should be a threat for this year's honor. These drivers have combined for six wins, five poles, and 1009 laps led at the track.

Indianapolis 500 practice continues through this week, with Pole Day set for May 22 and Bump Day on the following day.

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