IRL: F3000 veteran Cioci passes rookie test at Texas

FORT WORTH, Texas, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2002 -- European Formula 3000 veteran Marco Cioci passed the speed phase of his Indy Racing League rookie test, driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, on Dec. 18 at Texas Motor Speedway. Cioci, 27, from...

FORT WORTH, Texas, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2002 -- European Formula 3000 veteran Marco Cioci passed the speed phase of his Indy Racing League rookie test, driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, on Dec. 18 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Cioci, 27, from Rome, completed 80 laps with an unofficial top speed of 216.08 mph. He also turned laps in the car Dec. 17 before taking his test.

"I am very happy," Cioci said. "I passed and now am ready for the IRL. It was very satisfactory for me to improve myself. The car was very good and very fast. I understand more of the car, and I feel better about the car. It was a good weekend and a good two days of testing."

Cioci passed the speed phase under the observation of Johnny Rutherford, who is in charge of special projects for the IRL and a three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500.

"Marco did a good job," Rutherford said. "He just lights up whenever you talk to him about what he's doing out there and what he feels. That helps a lot when they enjoy what they're doing and they realize it's not a piece of cake.

"I've given a lot of tests and watched a lot of young drivers, and he's got all of the ingredients to be as good as anybody I've seen through."

-irl-

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