Nationwide Drivers Turn First Laps at Indy
Posted by: Candice Corrigan, follow @candicecorrigan
July 26, 2012
Drivers in the NASCAR Nationwide Series put down their first laps Thursday in practice for this weekend’s inaugural Indy 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The track that has been hosting motorsports events since 1909 welcomed first-timers and seasoned veterans during the four-and-a-half hour practice session.
Inexperienced Nationwide drivers looked to their Cup Series teammates and mentors to guide them around the track. In a tweet, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. said that he had the chance to ride shotgun with Danica Patrick, who has turned her fair share of laps around the 2.5 mile oval in the IZOD Indy Car Series, to get a feel for the track. Austin Dillon said in a press conference that he rode around the track in a van driven by last year’s Brickyard 400 winner, Paul Menard.
Despite getting a personal tour of the track by a former winner, Dillon’s comfort level with his car and the track isn’t where he would like it. “We needed all four-and-half hours of practice and felt like we could use more, still,” Dillon said.
Kyle Busch had the fastest practice times in both sessions Thursday afternoon with a time of 51.184 sec. at 175.836 mph. His fellow Sprint Cup Series regulars made up the majority of the top-10 speeds in both sessions.
In the first session, Ty Dillon and Stenhouse Jr. were the only two top-10 cars that have not run at Indy in the Cup or another racing series. In the second session, it was just Justin Allgaier and Austin Dillon.
Familiarity with the layout of IMS over all else seemed to determine the results of Thursday’s practice session. Although it’s a different kind of car than she’s used to driving here, Danica Patrick made her presence known with a ninth-place time in the first session.
“I think the best thing that coming back (and I got in last night) is that it feels familiar and it feels comfortable,” Patrick said. “I feel like I have had a lot of different experiences here that could help me.”
If experience makes all the difference this weekend, one of the seven Cup Series guys racing in Saturday’s Indy 250 could be headed to Gatorade Victory Lane. But, plenty of the Nationwide regulars know their way around the historic motorsports capital.
Team owner Chip Ganassi is no stranger to winning at Indy. He has three Indianapolis 500 victories as a team owner. Ganassi expressed his respect for the track on Thursday as he talked about the significance of NASCAR’s running at the site of some of the most significant motorsports events in the world.
“When NASCAR came here it became one of the great races,” Ganassi said. “It’s still the world center of racing. It’s still arguably the greatest race course in the world in any configuration. It doesn’t matter what you show up in, it’s a magical center of motorsports.”
Qualifying for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Indy 250 will take place on Saturday, July 28 at 12:30 p.m. ET.
Posted: July 26th, 2012
Categories: Nascar Nationwide Series, Results, Track News.
Tags: Austin Dillon, Chip Ganassi, Danica Patrick, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianpolis 500, Indy 250, Kyle Busch, NASCAR, Nationwide Series, Paul Menard, Ty Dillon