Drivers complete final practice

Indianapolis - If there is one person at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that can take a deep breath and sleep a little easier at night, it might be A.J. Foyt.

The team owner had two cars that failed to make the field during Pole Day qualifications on Saturday, but found some needed speed Wednesday.

During the first day of practice since Pole Day, Foyt and his teams found a bit of redemption as the team posted the two fastest speeds of the day.

Airton Dare posted the fastest speed at 228.628 mph while Dare's teammate Greg Ray had the second fastest time at 227.909 mph. Ray held the fastest time for nearly half the day until Dare posted his time in the later part of the afternoon.

"After Pole Day, we were a little bit disappointed because we've got a great team with great mechanics," Dare said. Dare also said that A.J. went over the car after Pole Day and found things he wasn't pleased with, fixed them and after the cars ran again, everything went well.

"Today we went back to a practice motor, really nothing special," Ray said. "We've gone all over the gamut as far as setups, and the car was very comfortable. When we did our 227.7 mph, I kind of pinpointed that we could to a (2)28.5, and at the end of the day that's what Airton (Dare) did."

Foyt made noise in another area Wednesday as he announced that he had signed a third driver, Donnie Beachlor. Beachlor explained that his biggest hurtle right now is to become reacclimated with the Speedway.

"We are still trying to find a little bit of speed," Beachlor said. "I just needed to get some laps in and get acclimated to the track again. It's been since last year since I've been on the track.

"You sit out and you think and once you get the nervous jitters out of the way then your fine. Once I get out on the track I feel a lot better."

Pole sitter for the 86th running of the 500, Bruno Junqueira put in only five laps while some drivers worked on race setups putting in a great deal of laps. Robby Gordon put in 107 laps as he explained his time to practice will be a bit more limited than others with his obligation to the Winston Cup.

"I haven't been here very much to spend a lot of time," Gordon said. "I wish we hadn't lost a couple of days last week, we might have had a chance at the poll. It's good to have a teammate like (Raul) Boesel who can go out and get laps and share information."

After earning himself a spot in the middle of the fourth row with a qualification speed of 229.127 mph, Gordon was the 26th fastest Wednesday posting solid times in the 224 mph range.

"It felt pretty good out there," Gordon said. "There was a little bit of wind going to down the front straight away it made the car a little free going into one, and a little tight going into three."

Another story Wednesday was the return of Robby McGehee. McGehee returned for the first time after hitting the wall in turn three on opening day. He was hospitalized with small fractures of his upper spine and lower left leg -- the same leg he broke in a race accident last June at Texas Motor Speedway -- but was released the next day.

McGehee was towards the bottom of the time sheet Wednesday after posting times in the 219 range with his best at 219.919 mph, 39th slowest of the day.

Helio Castroneves, last year's race winner, took most of Wednesday to work on race setup after securing a qualification speed of 229.052 mph for a spot on the inside of row 5.

"We are just working on the race setup," Castroneves said. "We need to change a lot right now but as long as we keep doing what we are doing we will be fine."

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