CHAMPCAR/CART: Herdez Competition battles the elements in Phoenix

INDIANAPOLIS (January 21, 2002) Unseasonably cool weather in Phoenix forced the Herdez Competition team to adjust their testing schedule last week after completing two of their three scheduled days in the west. On Wednesday, the team took to the...

INDIANAPOLIS (January 21, 2002) Unseasonably cool weather in Phoenix forced the Herdez Competition team to adjust their testing schedule last week after completing two of their three scheduled days in the west.

On Wednesday, the team took to the one-mile oval of Phoenix International Raceway. Rookie driver Mario Dominguez completed 199 laps in the afternoon after waiting the entire morning for reasonable operating temperatures.

Despite the delay, Dominguez was excited about his first oval laps in the Ford-powered Lola Champ Car. "Things happen a lot quicker in a Champ Car than in Indy Lights!", Dominguez said. "It's been over two months since I've been on an oval but this is much different. We were hitting 200 mph there compared to 180 or so at Fontana in the Lights car. Believe it or not, once you get used to the difference in speed, the Champ Car is a lot easier to drive - it's a much better balanced car from a technical standpoint. I think that Herdez Competition's engineers really know the ovals. I don't think I've ever driven an oval car that was set up this well. It seems that I have made a good connection with the car - we are having a lot of fun together!"

After a day to turn the car around from oval to road course set up and move across town to the Firebird International Raceway, the team embarked on Friday on what was intended as a two-day session. But the continued cool conditions changed the team's plans.

Herdez Competition managing director Keith Wiggins explained, "Because of the cold in the morning, we were forced to wait until after lunch to get started. While we had some decent runs and learned quite a bit from an engineering standpoint, we were concerned that we were only getting a half-day's work in. Since we're the first Champ Car team to test at Firebird East this season, we don't have any good reference points and we felt that we would gain more by returning to Sebring as opposed to a second day at Firebird. While we never go testing with the goal of setting the fastest laps times, having other FedEx Championship Series drivers running on the course at the same time is helpful for benchmarking your progress."

After a less than 24-hour turnaround in Indianapolis, the team's transporters will depart for Florida on Tuesday morning and the team will take to the Sebring International course for the second time in as many weeks on Thursday.

- www.teamherdez.com

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Mario Dominguez