A magnitude 5.7 earthquake struck northern Japan early Thursday morning (Wednesday evening est) and it was felt near Twin Ring Motegi.
Several drivers said they slept through the quake, but it did awake several drivers and Indy Racing League officials, including Danica Patrick and IRL founder and CEO Tony George.
Darren Manning driver of the #14 A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara said, “It felt like a washing machine went off in my room. It was like I was on a gentle spin cycle. “
Meanwhile drivers had to contend with rain during the first official practice session.
Three drivers, representing the past four race winners at Twin Ring Motegi, were stashed in the top five of the speed chart as preparations began for the Indy Japan 300.
With a forecast of rain that could wash out final practice and qualifications for the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award on April 18, the focus during two sessions of practice was on race setup.
Reigning champion Tony Kanaan grabbed the top spot with a quick lap of 27.2453 seconds (200.842 mph) in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven car for Andretti Green Racing. Dixon had a quick lap of 200.390 mph (27.3067) in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, while two-time Motegi winner Dan Wheldon (200.250; 27.3259) was third.
Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves, the pole sitter last year and points leader coming into the 200-lap race, was fourth (200.032; 27.3556) and Vision Racing’s Ed Carpenter (199.737; 27.3960) was fifth.
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