IRL: Greg Ray fastest on first day of Open Orlando Test

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Friday, Dec. 10, 1999 - Greg Ray, the 1999 Indy Racing League series champion, led the way during the first day of the Indy Racing League Open Test at Walt Disney World Speedway, posting a top lap of 21.736...

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Friday, Dec. 10, 1999 - Greg Ray, the 1999 Indy Racing League series champion, led the way during the first day of the Indy Racing League Open Test at Walt Disney World Speedway, posting a top lap of 21.736 seconds, 165.624 mph in the Team Menard Dallara/Aurora/Firestone. Scott Goodyear was second fastest at 165.494 in the Pennzoil Panther G Force/Aurora/Firestone, and Treadway Racing newcomer Robby McGehee was third at 164.639 in a 1999 G Force chassis. The two-day Open Test at the challenging 1-mile Walt Disney World Speedway tri-oval has added significance for teams, as new 3.5-liter engine, chassis and transmission packages are being introduced for the 2000 season. The teams have less than two months to prepare for the season-opening Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway on Jan. 29. According to Ray, who has undertaken private testing in the 2000 model cars with Team Menard for most of this week, the new equipment requires adjustment but shows much promise. "It's different anytime you drive the same car for three years, and get in something completely new," he said. "The equipment is certainly not bad, just different. It has taken me the last two days of testing to get comfortable, and the team is learning a lot about what not to do. "We are six-and-a-half tenths of a second slower than the track record. I think you will see a 21.4-second lap for the pole in January, which is impressive. The nature of these cars will make qualifying even tighter." Scott Sharp set the track record of 21.007, 171.371 while winning the pole for this event last year with a 4.0-liter engine. Engine suppliers Oldsmobile and Nissan are fine-tuning the new 3.5-liter V8 engines, which replace the 4.0-liter formula used since 1997. Chassis developers G Force, Dallara and Riley & Scott are introducing new chassis featuring improved aerodynamic and safety features for the 2000 season. Goodyear and the Pennzoil Panther team, which switched from the G Force to the Dallara chassis for 2000, found positive results in today's testing. "The new Dallara chassis is great," said Goodyear. "It's very consistent and very responsive to chassis adjustments. Andy Brown, our chief engineer, did a wonderful job of putting this car on the track with a whole new package - engine, tires, and chassis. We've only made minor adjustments to the car. It's surprising it came out of the box so quick." Defending event champion Eddie Cheever Jr. turned a fast lap of 160.930 in his Team Cheever Dallara/Infiniti Firestone. Testing will resume at 9 a.m. Saturday. Another Open Test at this track is scheduled for Jan. 5-6, 2000.

PERFORMANCE HISTORY OF THE DAY FROM ORLANDO OPEN TEST (1-mile tri-oval) Indy Racing League track record, 4-liter engine: 171.371 mph, Scott Sharp, Jan. 23, 1999

Car No. Driver          C/E/T                           Top Speed
1       Greg Ray        2000 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone   165.624 mph
4       Scott Goodyear  2000 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone   165.494
5T      Robby McGehee   1999 G Force/Aurora/Firestone   164.639
20      Tyce Carlson    2000 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone   164.429
28      Mark Dismore    2000 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone   163.823
8       Scott Sharp     2000 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone   163.066
91      Buddy Lazier    2000 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone   162.199
51      Eddie Cheever Jr1999 Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone 160.930
22      Jeret Schroeder 2000 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone   160.865
12      Buzz Calkins    2000 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone   157.812
5       Robby McGehee   2000 G Force/Aurora/Firestone   156.433

***

OPEN TEST QUOTES:

JERET SCHROEDER (Tri-Star Motorsports '99 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone): "The first full day went well. We didn't get out in the morning. We were trying to work out the last details of getting me fitted in the car. When we made it out, everything went well. The car ran well. Tri-Star Motorsports prepped a real nice car. It is super-comfortable to drive. The motor feels great. It 's my first time in the 3.5, and I love the sound of it. It sounds a lot more like an open-wheel car again, and it has lots of power. It's hard to tell a big difference in the motors because of how short the track is, but I 'm impressed so far. We still have some fitting problems for me right now with the car, so we're going to work on that. We'll give it a full day tomorrow."

TYCE CARLSON (Hubbard-Immke Racing 2000 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone): "You know how you say 'a race car is a race car?' Well, it felt great out of the box. We got down to 22.22 (seconds), and by the end of the day we got down to 22.02. I think we only ran 50 to 60 laps total, so we're very happy with the way everything's going. The car responds well to changes, and that's what we 're looking for. A race car is a race car, and if does what it's supposed to do, we can do what we have to do." (On Walt Disney World Speedway): "It's actually a fun track to run on because you have three different corners, and actually Turn 3 is almost like going down the straightaway of a tri-oval where you just diamond it off a little bit to make it a long straightaway."

SCOTT SHARP (Kelley Racing 2000 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone): "We had a good day. It was really impressive with the Firestone tires. The whole package with the new gearbox and new engine is working well. Really, it's the first day for us to really get to shake down the new car on Firestone tires. We were on the pole here this year, so we took that set-up and adapted it to the new car and new tires. So that's what we spent most of our day doing."

MARK DISMORE (Kelley Racing 2000 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone): "Winning the last race of the year feels good no matter what I'm doing right now, but testing is going well. I like the engine, actually. I like the gearbox. I like the car. I like everything, really. It (3.5-liter engine) feels as smooth to me as the 4-liter, I personally think it's even smoother. I like driving with the new (sequential) gearbox. It's like driving in a video game; you just go click, click, and click. I'm just trying to get comfortable with the new car. It does have a little different feel to it." (About goals for this test): "You know at any test you go to, you want to be the fastest driver, and that should be a product of us learning the car." (About testing at Walt Disney World Speedway): "This track is like a left-hand road course really, I mean I don't even consider this as an oval, especially Turn 1. Because its not conventional, meaning you're not running down the straightaway and turning left and going down to the other end and turning left, it does make it a little bit difficult to test new equipment. You don't have two corners here that are the same, or reasonably close. Actually, when we go to Phoenix we'll probably look at the data and understand things a little bit better." *** NOTEBOOK:

-IRL/IMS-

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