Iowa: Series open test day notes

PATRICK FASTEST AT OPEN TEST AT IOWA SPEEDWAY NEWTON, IOWA, Friday, June 20, 2008 - Danica Patrick led 26 drivers in an IndyCar Series Open Test at Iowa Speedway as preparations began for Sunday's Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by ...

PATRICK FASTEST AT OPEN TEST AT IOWA SPEEDWAY

NEWTON, IOWA, Friday, June 20, 2008 - Danica Patrick led 26 drivers in an IndyCar Series Open Test at Iowa Speedway as preparations began for Sunday's Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer.

Patrick lapped the 7/8-mile oval in 17.4612 seconds, 184.317 mph in the No. 7 Motorola entry. Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe were second and third with fast laps of 183.419 mph and 183.291 mph, respectively.

Patrick's rookie teammate, Hideki Mutoh, was fourth, while IndyCar Series points leader Scott Dixon, last year's polesitter at Iowa, was fifth.

The drivers combined for 1,380 laps in two hours of testing. A second two-hour session scheduled for late afternoon was cancelled due to a mid-afternoon rain storm.

Milka Duno was uninjured in the only accident of the day. Duno's No. 23 car spun in Turn 2 and made moderate contact with the SAFER Barrier. Duno's team was forced to pull out its backup car due to the incident.

Additional practice and PEAK Motor Oil Pole Qualifying for the Iowa Corn Indy 250 are scheduled for Saturday.

***

This is the second IndyCar Series event at Iowa Speedway. Dario Franchitti won the inaugural event.

***

Andretti Green Racing driver Danica Patrick met with the media at Iowa Speedway Friday morning.

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola): (About Iowa Speedway): "I think what I remember first and foremost about coming to Iowa Speedway is that the fans were so great and there were so many of them. It was so full. It's really great to see that as a driver. It gets you that last little bit amped up for the race."

(About anticipated differences between last year's race and this year's race): "I think one of the things that happened was that the weather caught us a little off guard last year. We came here on a month when you would think it would be at least 80 degrees and warm and humid like the Midwest usually is. But it was really cold, so we were caught off guard. We anticipated a different a different kind of day and I think that's why we fell a little bit short, why the starts and restarts were so exciting. When you cool a tire off, you need to get them back up to temperature. If it would've been warmer out, we wouldn't have had so far to go to bring them up to temperature. It will be changed, fixed for this year. I anticipate those situations, the restarts and everything, to be exciting still but less yellow flags following them. I think it's going to be much better from that perspective."

(About traffic): "The more cars have made it more interesting. One of the things that's happened as a result of more cars is we've had a little bit more cautions, as well. So, there might be less lapped traffic to think about. I'm not sure what to expect this year. The yellows have played into it, but if that doesn't happen, you have to stick your nose in, you have to go along side them. I don't know what the line is going to be like. There's a lot of uncertainty in my mind right now about what it's going to be like, but lap traffic makes it more exciting for the fans though, too. From that angle, it's a good thing."

***

Each IndyCar Series entry will receive three sets of Firestone Firehawk tires for today's Open Test. Two sets must be returned prior to the start of practice Saturday. One set may be carried over and added to the seven sets each entry receives for race weekend.

***

Rahal Letterman Racing will carry donation information for Midwest Flood Relief via its in-car camera this weekend. Midwest Flood Relief and its website, www.liveunited.org, are part of the United Way campaign to help those affected by the natural disasters in June.

***

Andretti Green Racing teamed with The Michael Andretti Foundation this week to gather support for the people of the state of Iowa in the wake of severe storms and flooding that have left much of the state in need. With the help of AGR's four IndyCar Series drivers, the team staged an online auction for its sponsors this week and raised $10,000, which will be donated to the American Red Cross. Each driver donated one signed item, and sponsors were allowed to submit bids for two days.

***

Helio Castroneves became an uncle today when his sister, Kati, gave birth to a baby boy.

Edourdo Castroneves Assola was born by c-section at 6:51 a.m. (EDT) and was approximately 6 pounds at birth, according to his uncle.

"Uncle Helio is officially uncle Helio," the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner said.

***

INDYCAR SERIES POST-TEST QUOTES:

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola, fastest): "I think that anybody watching could see we were running a more traditional racing line around the track instead of around the bottom. I was able to drive on the bottom for some of the track when I did a sticker (tire) run at the end, but I couldn't do it the whole way around. The racing is going to be a lot more exciting with a lot more passing and just better, in general, than last year."

(What kind of passing do you think we'll see?): "I think it will be easier to pass cars that aren't very good. Last year, everyone was on the bottom, and the trick was you had to go around the top to pass. It seems like it may be more like Richmond, where you have a more traditional line. Everyone still wants to go to the bottom, but you are running more against the wall on the straight. That gives you the opportunity to go more underneath. It will make that part a lot better. It will still be difficult to pass, because you can't stick your nose underneath. It won't be like a mile-and-a-half, but it will be a lot easier than last year."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, third): "Despite having only one session this afternoon, I think we were able to learn a lot. We made some solid progress with the race setup of the Team Penske car, and I think today was an encouraging start to the weekend. It's my first time running at Iowa Speedway, and so far I'm having a great time. It's a challenging track, and I'm really enjoying the layout of the circuit."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, second): "We were working on the basics of setting the car up - fixing little problems here and problems there. We were fixing little by little to keep the consistency, and we seemed to have that. Obviously Ryan (Briscoe) was working on different things, some race setup, and we're very optimistic for both cars. It's so tight that we're looking for thousandths of a second, and everything you change in the car, it makes a difference. It shows on the lap time."

(About tires) "I think we have more grip. Firestone seemed to do a good job with the tires here. I have not tried new tires after a few laps, but it seems to be holding pretty good, and hopefully the weather will cooperate as well Sunday and we won't have any cold tire issues or anything like that."

(About six consecutive race weekends) "It's going to be grueling. It's going to be tough on everyone, especially on the guys. But it's the same for everyone. I'm prepared, and Team Penske is prepared. It's similar to Indy. You spend a month in Indy and then on to Milwaukee and Texas. It wasn't six weekends, but it felt like it."

(About the rain) "When it rains, it always cleans a little bit of track. But it is what it is. We've had this situation many times before. The good news is everybody was able to spend some time on the racetrack and understand what it is we need to do."

HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 27 Formula Dream, fourth): "Today was a very productive day for the Formula Dream team. We were able to try most of the things we wanted to do before it started to rain. It would've been better if we had more time on the track, but we still have two practice sessions tomorrow, so I am confident that we will be able to do well in qualifying."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, fifth): "We didn't run as many laps as the others before the rain came today. In the amount of time we had today on track in the Commit car, our focus was on balancing. Since the last time we were here, there is definitely less grip and a few more bumps to negotiate."

SATURDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
7:30 a.m. Garages open
10 a.m.-Noon IndyCar Series practice
1:30-3:30 p.m. IndyCar Series practice (two groups)
5:30 p.m. PEAK Motor Oil Pole Qualifying presented by Boyer Petroleum

***

The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer on June 22 at Iowa Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 1 p.m. (EDT) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Jeld-Wen 100 on June 21 at Iowa Speedway. The race will be telecast at 5:30 p.m. (EDT) June 26 on ESPN2 and live on www.indycar.com.

-credit: irl

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Milka Duno , Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Ryan Briscoe , Chip Ganassi , Hideki Mutoh , Danica Patrick
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing