John Andretti has been around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway long enough to know that the weather can fool you.
After scrambling the previous day, along with everyone else, to get track time in gloomy, cold and windy conditions, Friday's sunshine and warmer temperatures weren't going to con Andretti, who will try Saturday to qualify for his ninth Indianapolis 500 start dating to 1988.
"The weather obviously is nice today, compared with what we've been fighting," said Andretti, who came up with a last-minute Indy ride from owner-driver Marty Roth last weekend. "It's not going to be like that tomorrow.
"I think we're going to get a couple of little changes in (today), do some different things. But we also know that tomorrow is going to be a big, different day and we don't want to get so far down one way and trick ourselves into thinking that we've done something good when the track is just giving us more today than it will tomorrow.
"This place is hard because you can run yourself in circles. We're going to try not to do that today."
Andretti, nephew of 1969 Indy winner Mario Andretti, is one of more than two dozen drivers hoping to grab one of the remaining 22 spots in the 33-car lineup for the May 25 race. He looked like a lock to get it done after turning a fast lap of 222.860, good for sixth on Friday's speed chart.
Eleven drivers qualified last Saturday, the first of four scheduled days of time trials, but Sunday's round was rained out.
Track officials are hoping to fill the lineup Saturday, with Sunday's "Bump Day" expected to see at least a few drivers attempting to knock the slowest qualified cars out of the field.
The forecast for Saturday called for temperatures in the mid-60s with cloudy skies and a 40 percent chance of scattered afternoon thunderstorms.
Thirty-six cars made it onto the track Friday, the last full day of practice this month. And, after drivers completed more than 2,600 laps the previous day without a single incident, there were three crashes on Friday.
Rookies E.J. Viso and Will Power, two of the drivers making the transition to the IRL's IndyCar Series from the defunct Champ Car World Series, hit the wall, as did Team Penske driver Ryan Briscoe, last year's fifth-place finisher and the third fastest in Saturday's qualifying. None of the drivers was injured.
Fortunately for Briscoe, he was driving his backup car. Viso and Power, who have not yet qualified for the race, were less fortunate, because neither has a backup car available. Both of their teams were scrambling to repair the damaged cars.
"There was a lot of blustery wind out there and I just got caught out," said Power, the 2006 rookie of the year in Champ Car, but a newcomer to oval racing. "I wasn't even up to speed yet and the car came around on me. I'm OK. I just have a few bumps and bruises on my knees and an ankle.
"This is obviously a setback for KV Racing Technology ... because of the track time were are going to lose," the Australian driver added. "But I know the team will do what needs to be done and we will be ready to qualify tomorrow."
Pole-winner Scott Dixon, working on race setup, was again the fastest driver of the day with a lap of 223.713. He was followed by two-time Indy winner Helio Castroneves, Briscoe's teammate, at 223.411, Briscoe at 223.372, Power at 223.0329, 19-year-old rookie Graham Rahal at 222.959.
They were just ahead of John Andretti, Marco Andretti, his cousin, at 222.764, pole runner-up and Dixon's Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dan Wheldon at 222.680, Oriol Servia, Power's teammate, at 222.456 and Danica Patrick at 222.388.
The 45-year-old Andretti, who returned to Indy last year after a 13-year absence, replaced rookie Jay Howard in Roth's car last Saturday and quickly got up to speed, although he didn't attempt to qualify.
Asked how he can make the transition from stock cars to open-wheel cars so quickly, Andretti said, "Probably just experience.
"I grew up racing so many different types of cars. You'd just get out of one and race another one, back-to-back. We used to do triple headers in Eldora (Ohio) with the midgets, sprint cars and dirt cars, and they all drove different. In the dirt, everything changes lap-by-lap and I guess you just learn to adjust.
"Maybe that's part of the gene I inherited," he added, grinning.