Indianapolis -- Target Chip Ganassi Racing, the defending champions of the Indianapolis 500, returned to the historic 2.5-mile oval this weekend to participate in the annual rookie orientation program. Drivers Bruno Junqueira and Nicolas...
Indianapolis -- Target Chip Ganassi Racing, the defending champions of the Indianapolis 500, returned to the historic 2.5-mile oval this weekend to participate in the annual rookie orientation program. Drivers Bruno Junqueira and Nicolas Minassian completed all phases of the program on Friday morning, allowing them to focus on race and qualifying setups. Junqueira and Minassian are attempting to duplicate the performance of Juan Montoya last year, who took the checkered flag in his first-ever race at the Indy 500.
Junqueira, driving the No. 44 Target G-Force/Oldsmobile turned the fastest lap of the two-day session on Saturday morning with a lap of 219.978 mph. Junqueira was happy with the team's performance at the legendary oval.
"I am happy about our performance today," Junqueira said. "This test was very good for both me and the team. We were able to do some long runs today and get a feel for how the car reacts as the fuel load goes down. I am still learning how to drive this very difficult oval, but every lap that I make I feel more and more comfortable. On the fast lap that we made, I was flat out for three of the four corners, but the wind caused me to have to lift a little bit in turn two."
Nicolas Minassian was involved in an accident on Friday morning when his car had a mechanical failure, causing the rear wheels to lock. The car made contact with the front stretch wall at a speed of over 210 mph. Minassian was transported to Methodist hospital where all of the precautionary tests were negative. He was released from the hospital on Friday afternoon, but did not return to the wheel of the No. 33 Target G-Force/Oldsmobile.
Minassian only recorded 21 laps, but still tallied the fourth fastest lap of the two-day session with a speed of 216.085. He was disappointed not to be able to continue testing.
"Before the accident, we were having a very good testing session. The car was very fast and easy to drive. In only 20 laps, we turned a lap of over 216 mph. I am very disappointed that we made contact with the wall and ended our testing session. The doctors cleared me to drive, but I was still experiencing some soreness in my neck. So we felt that it was best to just get some rest and be 100% when we come back here to test next week. I really love driving around this place, even though I had the mechanical problem. I am disappointed to not be able to drive any more this weekend, but it is best that I just take it easy and not push it."
Team Target Managing Director Mike Hull was happy the results of the testing session.
"This was a successful test for us. Despite the mechanical problem leading to the accident that Nicolas had on Friday, overall we are happy with the results. Bruno was able to run a lap of almost 220 mph, and collect over 450 miles of track time. That will be invaluable when we come back here in May to race. I am very impressed with the performance of both Bruno and Nicolas. They did a great job on a track that is very difficult to drive."
Team Target will now prepare for the third round of the CART FedEx Championship Series to be held on April 29 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.