Alex Tagliani emerged with the top time from practice on Monday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Canadian's No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry topped the speed chart with a best lap (of his 17) of 225.878mph – the best of the nine-plus total hours of track time.
"It was the not the best conditions that we have seen in Indy, but it was OK," said Tagliani. "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. 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."
Team manager Rob Edwards said that laying down fast laps in practice is not necessarily a priority, however.
“Last year, we had a philosophy of having quality running opposed to quantity running, and we are trying to continue that philosophy this year," Edwards said. "We didn't intend to run Saturday. We would have liked to have had the opportunity to shake the car down yesterday but, with the rain, we couldn't. Obviously, that gave us the time to work on a few more details that would happen later in the week, normally. How we ran today is a testament to how hard the guys worked in preparing the car.
"The No. 1 thing on the checklist today was to shake the car down, so we definitely accomplished more than we'd hoped. It's still only Monday, and it's a long week. I'm a big believer that you build momentum through the week. Obviously, we ended today on a high, but the important thing is to stay focused as we have a lot of work ahead of us. This puts a spring in the step of the guys and a smile on their faces. It's the biggest reward we could give them, and it's a testament to the job they've done. It's well-deserved for Alex and well-deserved for the guys.”
Seven different teams were represented in the top 10 as 39 drivers recorded 1,379 laps in a stiff, cool breeze without incident. Rookie Jay Howard was the lone entrant not to make an appearance – by design, based on tire management. The field was separated by a scant 1.2sec.
Scott Dixon (225.124) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Graham Rahal (225.071) of Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing, Ryan Briscoe (225.016) of Team Penske and Newman/Haas Racing's Oriol Servia (224.903) filled out the top five.
As the one-day snapshot of track activity revealed, there will be a number of strong teams rising for Pole Day/Tom Carnegie Day (May 21) and the 100th anniversary race May 29. Dixon, Rahal, Briscoe, Dario Franchitti – the reigning Indy 500 champion of Target Chip Ganassi Racing – Marco Andretti of Andretti Autosport, Vitor Meira of A.J. Foyt Racing, and Team Penske's Helio Castroneves have been in the top 10 both days of practice as teams progress through their test programs. Andretti, however, admitted he felt he had a lot of work still to do.
"We spent a lot of time today with the Venom car working on the racecar, and we're getting to where it feels pretty good. But right now I'm a little worried about our speed," said Andretti. "I think that if we had qualified today, we might have ended up on the bubble. So we'll put our heads together tonight, have a think on it and then hit it hard again tomorrow."
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Alex Tagliani Sam Schmidt 39.8445s
2. Scott Dixon Ganassi 39.9779s + 0.1334s
3. Graham Rahal Ganassi 39.9874s + 0.1429s
4. Ryan Briscoe Penske 39.9972s + 0.1527s
5. Oriol Servia Newman/Haas 40.0172s + 0.1727s
6. Vitor Meira Foyt 40.0332s + 0.1887s
7. Dario Franchitti Ganassi 40.1059s + 0.2614s
8. Helio Castroneves Penske 40.1163s + 0.2718s
9. Marco Andretti Andretti 40.1401s + 0.2956s
10. Will Power Penske 40.1815s + 0.3370s
11. Ed Carpenter Sarah Fisher 40.1916s + 0.3471s
12. Paul Tracy Dreyer & Reinbold 40.2180s + 0.3735s
13. Buddy Rice Panther 40.2307s + 0.3862s
14. Raphael Matos AFS 40.2405s + 0.3960s
15. Danica Patrick Andretti 40.2530s + 0.4085s
16. Justin Wilson Dreyer & Reinbold 40.2800s + 0.4355s
17. Bertrand Baguette Rahal Letterman Lanigan 40.2813s + 0.4368s
18. John Andretti Petty/Andretti 40.2921s + 0.4476s
19. Townsend Bell Sam Schmidt 40.3002s + 0.4557s
20. JR Hildebrand Panther 40.3224s + 0.4779s
21. Ho-Pin Tung Dragon 40.3277s + 0.4832s
22. Tony Kanaan KV 40.3528s + 0.5083s
23. James Hinchcliffe Newman/Haas 40.3638s + 0.5193s
24. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti 40.3717s + 0.5272s
25. Davey Hamilton Dreyer & Reinbold 40.4048s + 0.5603s
26. Bruno Junqueira Foyt 40.4316s + 0.5871s
27. Takuma Sato KV 40.4485s + 0.6040s
28. Ana Beatriz Dreyer & Reinbold 40.5037s + 0.6592s
29. Scott Speed Dragon 40.5086s + 0.6641s
30. Simona de Silvestro HVM 40.5926s + 0.7481s
31. Charlie Kimball Ganassi 40.6220s + 0.7775s
32. Dan Wheldon Herta 40.6740s + 0.8295s
33. Tomas Scheckter KV/SH 40.6865s + 0.8420s
34. EJ Viso KV 40.7063s + 0.8618s
35. Sebastian Saavedra Conquest 40.7129s + 0.8684s
36. Pippa Mann Conquest 40.7502s + 0.9057s
37. Alex Lloyd Dale Coyne 40.8145s + 0.9700s
38. Mike Conway Andretti 41.0286s + 1.1841s
39. James Jakes Dale Coyne 41.0780s + 1.2335s