Indianapolis Opening Day Report- Andretti Tops Practice Charts

Richard DeveauCorrespondent IMay 7, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS - MAY 07: Marco Andretti, driver of the #26 Team Venom Energy Andretti Green Racing Dallara Honda during practice for the IRL IndyCar Series 93rd running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 7, 2009 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Darrell Ingham/Getty Images)

After much criticism from fans and reporters, Marco Andretti's Venom/Andretti-Green Racing Dallara-Honda topped the charts with a blistering lap of 225.478 mph.

Andretti's fast time came due to a multi-car tow, where a car coming from behind gets caught in the draft (or slipstream) and gets sucked like a vacuum, causing him to go faster.

The checkered flag waved at 6 p.m. ET after 31 drivers and 32 cars combined for a total of 2199 laps. Team Penske driver Ryan Briscoe was the only one to run his spare car.

Speaking of Team Penske, the three car team proved they are more than ready to win another Indy 500 title, posting the second and third fastest times. Helio Castroneves took second with a speed of 225.237 mph and Ryan Briscoe was third with a speed of 224.904.

The next two spots were occupied by Chip Ganassi Racing drivers. Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti finished fourth and fifth respectively on the leaderboard, as Dixon defends his Indy 500 win of 2008. It's Franchitti's first visit to the speedway since he won in 2007, missing the race because he decided to give NASCAR a try.

Dan Wheldon came back to his old self, posting the sixth fastest time in his National Guard/Panther Racing Dallara-Honda.

The self-proclaimed winner of the 2002 Indy 500 Paul Tracy made his return to the speedway in fine fashion, posting a time good enough for 12th. That's good considering his Geico/KV Racing Technologies entry is a new team with not much experience. This is also only Tracy's second start in the Dallara-Honda in nearly a year.

The fastest rookie of the day was Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing driver Robert Doornbos, ending the day in seventh.

The ever-so-popular Danica Patrick finished the day in 8th place in her Boost Mobile/Andretti-Green Racing entry.

Nearly seven-and-a-half hours of practice was run today, with only one stoppage after Ryan Hunter-Reay brushed the wall in his Vision Racing car.

Many teams today had race setups on their cars and will probably start to focus their setups toward qualifying on Friday's open practice. Although the capturing the pole position is attractive, teams seem to be focusing much more on the race.

Leaderboard for Thursday's open practice:

1 Marco Andretti 39.9152, 225.478
2 Helio Castroneves 39.9579, 225.237
3 Ryan Briscoe 40.0171, 224.904
4 Scott Dixon 40.0983, 224.448
5 Dario Franchitti 40.1499, 224.16
6 Dan Wheldon 40.1747, 224.022
7 Robert Doornbos 40.2518, 223.592
8 Danica Patrick 40.313, 223.253
9 Graham Rahal 40.3594, 222.996
10 Will Power 40.3776, 222.896
11 Hideki Mutoh 40.4049, 222.745
12 Paul Tracy 40.4184, 222.671
13 Tony Kanaan 40.4321, 222.595
14 Ed Carpenter 40.4364, 222.572
15 Scott Sharp 40.4609, 222.437
16 Mario Moraes 40.5132, 222.15
17 John Andretti 40.5569, 221.91
18 Sarah Fisher 40.6037, 221.655
19 Davey Hamilton 40.6094, 221.624
20 Alex Lloyd 40.6833, 221.221
21 Justin Wilson 40.6872, 221.2
22 Vitor Meira 40.6979, 221.142
23 AJ Foyt IV 40.7165, 221.041
24 EJ Viso 40.7347, 220.942
25 Mike Conway 40.7894, 220.646
26 Raphael Matos 40.8669, 220.227
27 Ryan Briscoe 40.8943, 220.08
28 Milka Duno 40.9566, 219.745
29 Alex Tagliani 41.0051, 219.485
30 Nelson Philippe 41.011, 219.453
31 Ryan Hunter-Reay 41.2221, 218.329
32 Stanton Barrett 41.2676, 218.089