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Newgarden back to being fastest in Day 5 of Indy 500 practice

The SportsXchange

He may have a European-style spelling of his first name, but Nashville, Tenn., native Josef Newgarden is proving to be All-American when it comes to speed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 21-year-old Tennessean climbed back atop the speed charts on Wednesday for the third time in the five practices held thus far for the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 27.

Newgarden, who is attempting to race in his first career Indy 500, paced the field Wednesday with a speed of 222.785 mph, the second-fastest best-lap by a driver thus far this month at Indianapolis.

Marco Andretti, who posted the fastest best-lap of the month on Tuesday (223.676 mph), had Wednesday's second-fastest speed at 221.108 mph.

Newgarden is a rookie this season in the Izod Indy Car Series for Sarah Fisher Hartman. In the series' first four races thus far in 2012, Newgarden has finished 11th at St. Petersburg, 17th at Alabama, 26th in the Long Beach Grand Prix and 23rd at Sao Paulo, Brazil in the series' most recent event on April 29.

Rounding out the top 10 drivers in terms of speed Wednesday were third-fastest Ryan Hunter-Reay (221.763), James Hinchcliffe (221.638), Dario Franchitti (221.623), Justin Wilson (221.420), Bryan Clauson (221.031), Charlie Kimball (220.911), Takuma Sato (220.856) and Sebastian Saavedra (220.802).

There will be two more practice sessions, on Thursday and Friday, leading up to Saturday's Pole Day to qualify for the 101st running of the 500 at the fabled 2.5-mile oval.

A combined total of 1,632 laps were completed Wednesday by the 30 drivers that took to the track.

NOTES: Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials are planning a variety of tributes all next week for late racer Dan Wheldon, including a special presentation prior to the start of the race on May 27. Wheldon was killed in a multi-car crash early in the 2011 season-ending race at Las Vegas last fall. ... So-called "Culinary Rock Star" Guy Fieri will drive the pace car during the Indy 500. ... Qualification draw for Saturday's Pole Day will take place Friday night at 6:15 pm ET. Pole Day runs from 11 am to 6 pm ET. Bump Day, the last chance for those drivers who fail to qualify on Saturday, takes place Sunday and is tentatively scheduled to run from Noon to 6 pm ET. At that time, the 33-car field and final qualifying order will be complete for race day. There will be no practice sessions after Sunday until next Friday's (May 25) Carb Day, which is the final round of practice prior to race day.
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