08.26.11 – It wasn’t an easy day for the Andretti Autosport drivers in the first practice round Friday at the beautiful Infineon Raceway, site of Sunday’s Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma.
Bright sunshine and a steady wind proved a tricky combination in the afternoon practice session on the 2.3-mile, 12-turn road course north of San Francisco. The slippery track surface was difficult to reach a good grip level for the four Andretti machines.
New Hampshire winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, the hottest racer on the tour for the past four events, piloted the No. 28 Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda car to the 12th fastest in the 28-driver field Friday with a time of one minute, 20.563 seconds for an average speed of 102.910 miles per hour. Hunter-Reay, now eighth in the IZOD IndyCar Series point standings after a slow start on the 17-race trail, has reached the podium in three of the last four races and seeks to vault into the top-five by season’s end.
Marco Andretti, the winner at Iowa Speedway this year, recorded the 15th best speed Friday in the No. 26 Team All Natural Snapple machine with a clocking of 1:20.670 and a speed of 102.774 m.p.h. Long Beach winner Mike Conway notched the 18th fastest in the No. 27 Team @FollowAndretti entry with a 1:20.723 and a speed of 102.706.
Team GoDaddy.com driver Danica Patrick, one of only five drivers to compete in all six IndyCar Series races at Infineon Raceway previously, suffered through a frustrating day with the 26th best time at 1:21.634 and a speed 101.560.
Practice is scheduled for Saturday at 1:50 p.m. EDT with the first qualifying round set for 5:35 p.m. EDT. The qualifying session on Saturday will be televised at 6 p.m. EDT on Versus TV.
Sunday’s Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma, a 75-lap contest, will get underway at 4:45 p.m. EDT. The Versus telecast begins at 4 p.m. EDT.