- Associated Press - Saturday, May 14, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Sarah Fisher retired from driving to start a family.

Turns out, her replacement can deliver, too.

Ed Carpenter turned a fast lap of 224.786 mph in the No. 67 car Saturday, putting the expectant mother and team owner atop the speed charts on the opening day of Indianapolis 500 practice. New Zealand’s Scott Dixon, the 2008 Indy winner, was second at 224.491 mph.

“Today was one of those days where everything went right,” said Carpenter, the stepson of former speedway president Tony George. “Well, we did have a couple of issues, but basically everything went right.”

Carpenter posted his speed just before rain started falling for the first time Saturday.

The delay wiped out nearly two hours of the scheduled six-hour session. Workers finally got the track dry enough late in the day to get everyone back out on the track again. But a second round of showers limited washed out the final 45 minutes of practice.

Rookie JR Hildebrand, of Panther Racing, surprised many by finishing third at 224.433 _ just two days after passing his rookie test.

Defending champ and two-time 500 winner Dario Franchitti, Dixon’s teammate at Target Chip Ganassi, was fourth at 224.107. The Scotsman finished just ahead of Marco Andretti, who had a 223.927. Three-time Indy winner Helio Castroneves, of Brazil, was ninth at 222.755, and was second among Team Penske drivers. Castroneves‘ teammate, Australia’s Ryan Briscoe, was sixth at 223.811.

So for Fisher and Carpenter, it was an incredible start to May.

“I’m hormonal now, so thank God I’m not making all the decisions,” Fisher joked.

“Why do think I’m going so fast?” Carpenter said.

Qualifying begins next Saturday, and if he makes it safely in Saturday, Fisher just might try to put a second car, No. 57, in the May 29 race.

“The 57 plan was for me, originally, but I guess I ruined that,” said Fisher, whose due date is in late September. “Our primary goal was to do Indy and win the oval championship, so we’ll not make a decision about that until (next) Saturday night.”


LATE START: Rain wasn’t the only problem track officials faced Saturday.

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