Indianapolis 500: Alex Tagliani Tops Chart on First Full Day of Practice on Monday

For the second practice day in a row, it’s been a surprise a top the standings as Alex Tagliani and Sam Schmidt Motorsports topped the charts with a best lap of 225.878 mph, the quickest of all three days so far.

“It was the not the best conditions that we have seen in Indy, but it was OK,” Tagliani said. “We didn’t run on the first day and Sunday was raining, so today was the first opportunity for us to run. Thanks to the boys; they did a fantastic job preparing an amazing car. It is early in the week, but it is quite nice to show that the Bowers & Wilkins car is strong for an Indy run.

“When we came here last year, we didn’t know what to expect. We came in apprehensive because it’s a very tough place to get it right and very difficult to win. Obviously, we had some speed, and it worked out quite well last year. We build from it. We had a chance in 2010 to develop a good base and in the winter, the guys worked really hard on the car and cleaned it up a bit and always paid attention to details.

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“That’s what this place wants, and it’s nice to start the week with a car that’s quite strong. Hopefully we can build on it. You can never take anything for granted at this place. We have to stay on our toes all week and roll the car out for qualifying and hope for the best.”

Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon (225.124mph) and Graham Rahal (225.071) were second and third.

“We had a pretty decent day for the Target team,” Dixon said. “We switched to the primary car today, and it ran smooth. Hope to run a little more tomorrow.”

Penske Racing’s Ryan Briscoe was fourth (225.016), followed by Newman/Haas Racing’s Orio Servia in fifth(224.903).

“It felt great to be back on track today,” Briscoe said. “We took out our primary No. 6 IZOD Team Penske car for practice, and it felt very comfortable out there. It’s nice to be in the 225 bracket. We’ll keep chipping away at it for the rest of the week and get ready for qualifying on Saturday.”

“The day went well for the Telemundo team,” Servia said. “It was very cold, colder than we think it will be for Race Day. We had a good run. We went through our test plan, and we ran well. I got my fast lap with a tow, so the time isn’t very representative. But I have to say, tow or no tow, downforce or no downforce, it’s the first time I am in the top five at the end of the day in Indy, so it feels good. I’m happy with the Telemundo car so far. We’re still not where we want to be, but it is really the first test day we have had to try new things. We are happy with where we are, progress-wise.”

Seven different teams were spread out throughout the top 10 as 39 drivers took the track. It looks like it’ll be a close race come later this month as the field was seperated by 1.2 seconds.

The teams are practicing in preparation for Pole Day/Tom Carnegie Day (May 21st) and the 100th Indianapolis 500 on May 29th.

When it comes to pole day, Briscoe feels that he has a good shot at winning the pole.

“It certainly felt like in the last three years I’ve been in a great position to fight for the pole,” Briscoe said. “Sometimes it just comes down to timing or whatever. But Helio, our teammate, he’s really good at getting on the pole here. But I feel we have exactly the same equipment. We’ve just got to make sure we put ourselves in the right position to be able to go for it on Saturday.”

Briscoe says that he has a good shot and is glad to be driving for Roger Penske.

 “Obviously, I’m grateful to be here and be able to do it with Team Penske,” Power said. “It’s an amazing team, and Roger (Penske) is just so passionate about this race. It gives me, as a driver, a whole lot of confidence going into it with the goal of winning. That’s the one and only goal coming here, to win the race. The 100th anniversary is very special.”

Briscoe’s teammate Will Power shared the sentiments of his teammate as he said that this year is a big year.

“Every year it’s a special feeling,” Power said. “But somehow I think this year with more cars, more good drivers – and I think there will be a bigger crowd – I think this will be something else.” 

To start the season, the points leader has won the pole for each of the first four races so right now he looks to be a favourite on the 21st.

“Yeah, for me, it would be a really big deal,” he said, “It’s something that I’d love to do. I sort of had a chance last year, a close chance. After the experience of last year, I know what I need to do. Obviously, the conditions are changing every year, but the car’s exactly the same. I’m definitely keen to giving it everything I can to get the pole, no question.”

For now, Power is working on finding the right feel.

“We did limited running again today in the Verizon Team Penske car,” he said. “We’re just trying to use our miles wisely. We worked on some race setup today, and the car feels good. We still have plenty of time on track this week before we qualify on Saturday, and we plan to make the most of it.”

Practice continues on Tuesday from noon to 6pm EST as teams continue to prepare.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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