Andretti Green Racing opens season with successful two-day test at Homestead-Miami Speedway. HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Jan. 29, 2004) - Preparations for the 2004 Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCarÂ® Series season got underway this week with a two-day test...
Andretti Green Racing opens season with successful two-day test at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Jan. 29, 2004) - Preparations for the 2004 Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar® Series season got underway this week with a two-day test session at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Andretti Green Racing (AGR) made the most of its track time, logging more than 979 miles with its four Honda-powered entries.
Drivers Dario Franchitti, Bryan Herta, Tony Kanaan and Dan Wheldon put their respective Andretti Green machines through a series of runs on the newly-reconfigured 1.5-mile oval, which now features higher-banked turns that vary from 18 degrees to 20 degrees from the bottom groove to the top groove.
All four AGR drivers showed speed in their 2004 debuts, spending time in either the first or second spots on the speed chart at some point during the 12 hours of testing, which started Tuesday morning and wrapped up Wednesday afternoon.
Wheldon, who is coming off a season that saw him win the 2003 Bombardier IndyCar Series Rookie-of-the-Year title, ended the first day of testing ranked fastest among the 18 drivers that took part. Wheldon, who pilots the #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone, turned a fast lap of 217.820 miles per hour (24.5432 seconds) to lead the way on the opening day. His lap was also the fastest to come from the Andretti Green stable over the course of the two-day test session.
Herta, who drives the #7 Honda-powered entry, spent much of the day Thursday atop the IndyCar Series speed rankings after turning a lap of 217.267 miles per hour (24.6057 seconds). He was followed closely by Franchitti, who saw his first official action since June 15, 2003, when he turned in a fourth-place effort at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Franchitti clocked in at 217.188 miles per hour (24.8390 seconds) in the #27 Archipelago Exchange Dallara/Honda/Firestone on his 42nd lap of the day.
Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan, who contended for the 2003 IndyCar Series crown in the #11 car, was right in step with his three teammates. Kanaan circled the Homestead-Miami circuit at 216.894 miles per hour (24.6480 seconds) during Thursday morning's session.
Andretti Green Racing and the rest of the IndyCar Series competitors will continue pre- season testing Feb. 11-12 at Phoenix International Raceway in Avon, Ariz., before returning to Homestead for the 2004 series opener on Feb. 29.
KYLE MOYER, GENERAL MANAGER, ANDRETTI GREEN RACING:
"I'm really proud of the guys on our crew. They had to prepare four race cars to come down here. We've added some new personnel, some new members to our engineering staff and we haven't seemed to miss a beat. The drivers worked very well together over these two days.
"We were quick right out of the box in both qualifying setup and race setup, so we couldn't be much happier than we are at the moment. You have to remind yourself that it's a test and everybody is going to work that much harder between now and the race, and we have to do the same thing. But, this is certainly the way you want to start off your year."
BRYAN HERTA, #7 DALLARA/HONDA/FIRESTONE:
"I'm very pleased with this test. This was the first opportunity for the crew of the #7 car to work together and everything has gone very smoothly, plus the car has been quick and it feels really good. I'm not surprised everything has come together so well, because the team was blended. I was expecting to be strong because some of the experienced guys moved over to our car and we brought in some new guys to make a good mix of people."
TONY KANAAN, #11 TEAM 7-ELEVEN DALLARA/HONDA/FIRESTONE:
"Our two days were very productive, especially since we've all been off for the past three months. It's been a great effort by everybody at Andretti Green Racing this winter and all the Team 7-Eleven guys, as well.
"I'm happy. There is still a lot of work to do and a lot of things to improve. But, this has been a good, clean couple of days."
DAN WHELDON, #26 KLEIN TOOLS/JIM BEAM DALLARA/HONDA/FIRESTONE:
"The test went really well. The Klein Tools/Jim Beam crew has done a great job and I've been fast in every session. Andretti Green Racing has also done a great job in producing four very competitive cars that are very equal. We just worked through a set program which is going very well and the main thing is we are preparing for qualifying and the race here."
DARIO FRANCHITTI, #27 ARCHIPELAGO EXCHANGE (ArcaEx) DALLARA/HONDA/FIRESTONE:
"It felt so good to be back. It was really nice being in the car, just driving again. The ArcaEx car was very good these past couple of days. We've got a little bit of work to do yet before the race, but we're certainly going in the right direction.
"All of our guys seemed to be pretty quick. It's hard to really tell what everybody's got until you're qualifying or in the race. But, I think we're pretty happy with where we're at. It just shows the kind of preparation that the Andretti Green put in at the end of last season and also through the winter."