IRL: California: Friday practice report

Rookie Scheckter puts backup car on top in California FONTANA, Calif., Friday, March 22, 2002 - Rookie Tomas Scheckter was the fastest driver overall during practice March 22 for the Yamaha Indy 400 at California Speedway, just six weeks after...

Rookie Scheckter puts backup car on top in California

FONTANA, Calif., Friday, March 22, 2002 - Rookie Tomas Scheckter was the fastest driver overall during practice March 22 for the Yamaha Indy 400 at California Speedway, just six weeks after he led the speed charts at the same track during the Indy Racing League Test in the West.

Scheckter posted a top lap of 32.4134 seconds, 222.130 mph during the second practice today in the No. 51T Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone that's a backup car for his boss and teammate, 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr. Scheckter, son of 1979 Formula One World Champion Jody Scheckter, also was fastest Feb. 6 during the Test in the West on the 2-mile oval with a lap of 32.4395, 221.952.

Former Formula One test driver Scheckter was forced into Cheever's backup car for both sessions when his primary car developed electronic problems during the first practice.

"We had a little electrical problem that I'm sure Infiniti will sort out," Scheckter said. "They've done an unbelievable job, and I'm sure they are going to sort out the problem.

"It just shows what an unbelievable job these guys do on my car. I can jump into a 'T' car and be quickest. It's great."

Cheever was second fastest overall today with his session-leading lap of 221.505 in the No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone during the first practice. Jaques Lazier was third overall at 221.151 in the No. 2T Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone from the second practice.

2001 Indy Racing League Rookie of the Year Felipe Giaffone ended up fourth at 220.914 from the first practice in the No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone, while Robbie Buhl was the third Infiniti-powered driver in the top five with his top lap of 220.845 from the second practice in the No. 24 Team Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone.

The Yamaha Indy 400, the first Indy Racing League event in Southern California, starts at 3:30 p.m. (EST) Sunday and will be televised live on ESPN. MBNA Pole Qualifying starts at 2 p.m. (EST) Saturday.

The top three drivers in the IRL point standings - leader Sam Hornish Jr., second place Helio Castroneves and third place Gil de Ferran - were not among the top five drivers in either two-hour practice session under sunny skies at the track approximately 45 miles east of Los Angeles.

2001 Indianapolis 500 winner Castroneves, the winner last Sunday at Phoenix, was the eighth-fastest driver overall at 219.914 in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone. Hornish, winner of the season opener at Homestead-Miami, was 10th at 219.757 in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.

de Ferran, Castroneves' teammate, was the 14th fastest overall driver at 218.725 in the No. 6T Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.

Richie Hearn had a strong season debut with Sam Schmidt Motorsports, ending up the ninth fastest driver overall with a top lap of 219.888 in the No. 99 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Racing Special Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone. Hearn is substituting this race for Anthony Lazzaro, who is out for three to four weeks with a spinal fracture suffered in a three-car accident during the Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200 on March 17 at Phoenix International Raceway.

The field for the Yamaha Indy 400 combined to turn exactly 2,000 laps without incident today in the Indy Racing League's first visit to this high-speed oval.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Felipe Giaffone , Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Richie Hearn , Anthony Lazzaro , Sam Schmidt , Jody Scheckter , Sam Hornish Jr. , Jaques Lazier , Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing