IRL: Greg Ray rules final day of Orlando Open Test

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Saturday, Dec. 11, 1999 - Greg Ray crept closer to the Walt Disney World Speedway track record Saturday during the final day of a two-day Open Test for the Indy Racing League, with a lap of 21.281 seconds,...

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Saturday, Dec. 11, 1999 - Greg Ray crept closer to the Walt Disney World Speedway track record Saturday during the final day of a two-day Open Test for the Indy Racing League, with a lap of 21.281 seconds, 169.165 mph in the Team Menard Dallara/Aurora/Firestone. Ray's time, in a 2000 Dallara chassis and 3.5-liter Aurora engine, is less than three-tenths of second slower than the track record of 21.007 set by Scott Sharp in 1999 with the higher-horsepower 4.0-liter engine. "We did some long runs in the morning, and we're just working on consistency," said Ray. "We debated whether or not to take a lunch break and make another run instead. We ran the car down to where it was light on fuel. We had trimmed the car down and knew we could go quick, but we were surprised to go that fast. "Everything is so circumstantial, but I think somewhere between 21.1 and 21.4 could take the pole." Sharp, driving the Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Aurora/Firestone for Kelley Racing, was second fastest for the day and third fastest overall at 164.790. Scott Goodyear's speed of 165.494 set Friday in the Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Aurora/Firestone remained second fastest overall. "We just worked away all day, and actually I think we can go faster," said Sharp. "We've been trying to sort the whole car out, and we're adapting well. I'm really happy with the whole engine, tire and transmission package. The racing's already tight, but it's going to get a lot tighter." The two-day test completes the first official test of the new 3.5-liter engine, chassis and transmission packages being introduced for the 2000 season. The drivers and teams completed 1,384 laps Saturday and a total of 2,358 laps during the test. Goodyear completed the most laps today with 198. Teams will return Jan. 5-6 for a second Open Test at the 1-mile tri-oval. The 2000 Indy Racing League season will get underway Jan. 29 with the Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway.

PERFORMANCE HISTORY OF THE 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 (Day Recorded)
1       Greg Ray        2000 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone   169.165 mph (Saturday)
4       Scott Goodyear  2000 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone   165.494 (Friday)
8       Scott Sharp     2000 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone   164.790 (Saturday)
5T      Robby McGehee   1999 G Force/Aurora/Firestone   164.639 (Friday)
5       Robby McGehee   2000 G Force/Aurora/Firestone   164.444 (Saturday)
20      Tyce Carlson    2000 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone   164.429 (Friday)
51      Eddie Cheever Jr1999 Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone 164.294 (Saturday)
28      Mark Dismore    2000 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone   163.934 (Saturday)
1T      Greg Ray        2000 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone   163.733 (Saturday)
91      Buddy Lazier    1999 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone   163.369 (Saturday)
22      Jeret Schroeder 1999 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone   162.206 (Saturday)
12      Buzz Calkins    2000 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone   157.936 (Saturday)

***

OPEN TEST QUOTES:

EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (Team Cheever Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We're just trying to get some miles on the Infiniti 3.5-liter. It's the second test we' ve had. We had to make some changes yesterday to the engine, but it seems to be running well. We're in the old Dallara still, looking forward to getting our new Riley & Scott chassis. This is the first time we've ran Firestone tires, and I'm very impressed with them. They're very smooth and have a lot of grip." (About the team's plans for the Open Test Jan. 5-6, 2000 at Walt Disney World Speedway): "We have two things to work on. One is engine reliability, and the other is making sure the new car marries itself well to the Firestone tires."

BUZZ CALKINS (Bradley Motorsports Dallara/Aurora/Firestone): "We are just trying to get a baseline for the car. We're learning about some things the car does like and doesn't like, and it's moving us in the right direction. It's been a productive test. We're hoping to test in Phoenix right before Christmas, then come down here in January and hopefully we'll have a whole database of stuff to move forward with. You'll probably see different weather conditions from early December to the time of the race, so hopefully we'll be able to adjust to that."

ROBBY McGEHEE (Treadway Racing G Force/Aurora/Firestone): (About the 2000 G Force): "It's really awesome. This is the first day we're really trying to get the new car running well. It's going to be a great year for the Energizer team. We went right out today and ran fast. The car only has 50 or 60 laps on it, and we're already the same speed as the '99 car. It's very comfortable and has a lot of downforce." (About new affiliation with Treadway Racing): "This deal with Treadway is fantastic. It's going to give me the opportunity to be in the winner's circle, and I think it's a win-win deal for everybody in this organization."

BRIAN BARNHART (Director of Racing Operations, Indy Racing League): "I'm extremely pleased with the way the entire week has gone, with the private testing and the Indy Racing League Open Test. I couldn't be any happier with the job our manufacturers have done. To have G Force and Dallara, and Oldsmobile and Nissan run the amount of laps they have run and have a total lack of problems is a credit to their dedication and the job they have done. We've got Panther Racing with over 400 miles on their car-engine-transmission combination. They're extremely pleased, and I think everybody is." (About expectations for January Open Test): "Teams will be finalizing their setup and becoming more familiar with the cars. Track time this weekend has been nonstop. They keep working on the cars and fine-tuning them, and when they come back in January they'll keep dialing them in and doing long runs. I think you'll see a higher level of participation at that test. We'll probably be in the low- to mid-20s in the number of cars, and you'll see guys getting a lot of laps."

KEVIN BLANCH (Chief Mechanic, Pennzoil Panther Racing): "We're seeing what the car wants, testing different spring packages, different shock packages and other things. The Dallara is really nice. We built it in a week, which cuts that job time by about two weeks. And the Xtrac (gearbox) people are great to work with. (Driver) Scott (Goodyear) loves the new transmission, and their people have been a real help. For the January Open Test, we want to have the car set up in the way we'll race it. Anything we want to try for the race, we will have it ready to test."

SKIP FAUL (Crew Chief and Team Manager, Treadway Racing): "The car's running good. We're still in the early stages of shaking it out. Every change we've made seems to be going forward. Robby (McGehee) is doing really well. We're still just getting to know each other and figuring out what he likes and what we like. I think it's come along pretty well. He ran the 1999 car well yesterday and the new car well today, and I think we're in the ballpark." (About preparations for the January Open Test): "We're just going to see how much more we get out of this now, and then we'll go home and look at all the information and see what we want to do differently and go from there." *** OPEN TEST NOTEBOOK:

Timing and scoring improvements: Indy Racing League Timing and Scoring officials are testing the new, state-of-the-art AMB TranX Pro timing and scoring system that is to be installed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and used at the 2000 Indianapolis 500. Crews under the direction of Chuck Whetsel, manager of IRL/IMS Timing and Scoring, installed the new system at Walt Disney World Speedway. The system will be tested at the Delphi Indy 200, and the events at Phoenix in March and Las Vegas in April. The AMB system used in 1999 will remain as the primary system until Whetsel is confident the new system is working flawlessly. "The new system is on schedule for the Indianapolis 500," said Whetsel. "The hardware appears to be ready to go, and right now were shaking out the new software. The new system will remain as a backup to our year-old AMB system at Disney, Phoenix and Las Vegas, but if everything continues according to plan, the TranX Pro will be our primary system at Indy." The new fully digital AMB equipment offers accuracy of up to 1/10,000th of a second, and has improved aesthetics and detail in the information provided to teams, media, and track video monitors and scoreboards.

*** Easy driver: The Pennzoil Panther team has made life in the cockpit a little easier for Scott Goodyear with the introduction of Formula One-style, steering wheel-mounted controls and data displays. Controls and information such as the fuel reset button, warning lights, and speed, rpm and tire pressure displays that were on the dashboard are all now mounted on the steering wheel, directly in front of Goodyear. "Scott no longer has to look through the steering wheel and has less strain when operating controls," said Panther racing team manager and owner John Barnes. "He can now look at data all the way around the racetrack, instead of having to wait for a certain point on the track. The controls represent newer technology, and the whole package weighs less."

*** New paint job for Panther: Panther Racing has gone "back to the basics" with the paint scheme on their 2000 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone. For the last two years, the Pennzoil-sponsored car featured black striping and black paint on much of the top of the chassis. For 2000, the sponsor and team elected to resurrect the classic all-yellow paint scheme that has adorned Pennzoil cars driven by the likes of Al Unser, Johnny Rutherford, Rick Mears and John Andretti for 20 years. *** Broadcast highlights: Highlights of the Indy Racing League Orlando Open Test will be aired on Sunday, Dec. 12 on two nationally broadcast motorsports shows: TNN Raceday at 11 a.m. (EST) and RPM2Night on ESPN2 at 9 p.m. (EST).

Tickets: Tickets for the Delphi Indy 200 are available by calling (800) 822-INDY.

-IRL/IMS-

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