A fast lap by Emerson Fittipaldi and two crashes, one of them sending rookie Mark Dismore to the hospital, punctuated Friday's action on the final full day of practice before qualifications open for the May 26 Indianapolis 500.
Fittipaldi, the 1989 Indy winner, turned a lap at 226.705 mph on the 2 1/2-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval, the fastest unofficial lap since the track opened for practice on May 4.It wasn't as good a day for his Penske Racing teammate Rick Mears, who crashed his primary car after a broken wheel nut led to a puncture of his right rear tire, sending the Penske 91 Chevrolet hard into the first turn wall.
The three-time Indy winner walked away from the incident with a limp. X-rays of his right foot proved negative and Mears got back to the track quick enough to run a lap of 226.557 in his backup car. That was just a tick slower than his fastest of the month - 226.569 in the primary car.
Dismore, a 34-year-old driver from Greenfield, Ind., did not walk away from his devastating fourth-turn crash, although his injuries did not appear to be life-threatening. He was taken from shattered 1988 Penske-Buick by track medical workers and airlifted to Methodist Hospital.
Track officials said Dismore was "awake, alert and stable." They said he had multiple injuries to the extremities, his feet, legs and arms.
The crash occured after Dismore, who had been running laps at about 216 mph, brushed the outside wall coming off turn four. He ricocheted into the inside fence, then rebounded into the retaining wall dividing pit road and the track. The fiery incident drilled a big hole in the retaining wall and scattered debris for more than a quarter mile, forcing U.S. Auto Club officials to close the track about 30 minutes prior to the scheduled end of the session.
Forty-one cars made it onto the track on Friday for a total of 1,209 laps.
After Fittipaldi and Mears, the fastest laps of the day were turned in by defending champion Arie Luyendyk at 225.575 and Kevin Cogan at 225.450.
Gary Bettenhausen was also fast at 224.685, followed by former winner Bobby Rahal at 224.237, surprising Stan Fox at 224.058 and four-time Indy winner A.J. Foyt, with his best lap of the week at 223.925.
The first of four days of time trials to fill the 33-car field is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. EST today.