IndyCar championship leader Will Power set the fastest lap of the month so far in morning practice ahead of today's pole qualifying for the Indianapolis 500. But the session was interrupted for nearly half an hour when Takuma Sato had a heavy accident at Turn 2.
The former grand prix driver eventually got out of his severely damaged KV car unaided, but was taken to Methodist Hospital for precautionary x-rays having complained of back pain. Provided he is given medical clearance, Sato is expected back at the speedway later today, and although he will miss the pole qualifying session, he should be able to participate in tomorrow's Bump Day qualifying.
Sato's crash damaged the SAFER barrier and left a large amount of oil on the track, meaning that it took some time to get the track back in shape so practice could continue.
Prior to the accident, Power had set his lap of 39.5351sec/227.646mph just three laps into his morning and could not be beaten. But the man who got closest to usurping Penske's Australian was Alex Tagliani, whose surprising performances for FAZZT have made him the month's underdog hero so far. Having taken second with a speed of 227.513mph this morning, Tagliani and his fledgling team will head into qualifying full of confidence.
Penske still had two cars in the top three, with Ryan Briscoe third. Davey Hamilton also marked himself out as a potential giant-killer by going fifth for De Ferran Dragon Racing, having been fourth until a last-minute improvement from Target Chip Ganassi's Scott Dixon.
Dixon's teammate Dario Franchitti completed the top six, with Tony Kanaan the top Andretti Autosport driver in eighth behind Dan Wheldon.
Last year's winner and Friday pacesetter Helio Castroneves took ninth in the final Penske Dallara-Honda, followed by Dreyer & Reinbold duo Justin Wilson and Mike Conway.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Will Power Penske 39.5351s
2. Alex Tagliani FAZZT 39.5582s + 0.0231s
3. Ryan Briscoe Penske 39.6774s + 0.1423s
4. Scott Dixon Ganassi 39.7228s + 0.1877s
5. Davey Hamilton de Ferran Dragon 39.7501s + 0.2150s
6. Dario Franchitti Ganassi 39.7588s + 0.2237s
7. Dan Wheldon Panther 39.7841s + 0.2490s
8. Tony Kanaan Andretti 39.8237s + 0.2886s
9. Helio Castroneves Penske 39.8308s + 0.2957s
10. Justin Wilson Dreyer & Reinbold 39.8499s + 0.3148s
11. Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold 39.8555s + 0.3204s
12. Ed Carpenter Panther/Vision 39.8679s + 0.3328s
13. Raphael Matos de Ferran Dragon 39.8805s + 0.3454s
14. Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman 39.8887s + 0.3536s
15. Hideki Mutoh Newman/Haas 39.9108s + 0.3757s
16. Townsend Bell Ganassi/Schmidt 39.9118s + 0.3767s
17. Alex Lloyd Dale Coyne 39.9232s + 0.3881s
18. Jay Howard Sarah Fisher 39.9632s + 0.4281s
19. Simona de Silvestro HVM 39.9634s + 0.4283s
20. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti 39.9836s + 0.4485s
21. AJ Foyt IV Foyt 39.9902s + 0.4551s
22. EJ Viso KV 39.9918s + 0.4567s
23. Ana Beatriz Dreyer & Reinbold 40.0297s + 0.4946s
24. Danica Patrick Andretti 40.0540s + 0.5189s
25. Mario Moraes KV 40.0555s + 0.5204s
26. Vitor Meira Foyt 40.0903s + 0.5552s
27. Bertrand Baguette Conquest 40.0910s + 0.5559s
28. Sebastian Saavedra Herta 40.1409s + 0.6058s
29. Takuma Sato KV 40.1416s + 0.6065s
30. Tomas Scheckter Dreyer & Reinbold 40.1877s + 0.6526s
31. Paul Tracy KV 40.2801s + 0.7450s
32. Mario Romancini Conquest 40.2896s + 0.7545s
33. Milka Duno Dale Coyne 40.3169s + 0.7818s
34. John Andretti Andretti 40.3443s + 0.8092s
35. Sarah Fisher Sarah Fisher 40.3522s + 0.8171s