IRL: Homestead test notes 2003-11-21

IndyCar Series teams test at reconfigured Homestead INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Nov. 21, 2003 -- Several top IRL IndyCar Series teams tested Nov. 19-20 at the reconfigured Homestead-Miami Speedway outside Miami. Drivers who participated in the...

IndyCar Series teams test at reconfigured Homestead

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Nov. 21, 2003 -- Several top IRL IndyCar Series teams tested Nov. 19-20 at the reconfigured Homestead-Miami Speedway outside Miami.

Drivers who participated in the test included: Dan Wheldon (Andretti Green Racing), Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing), Scott Sharp (Kelley Racing), Tomas Scheckter (Panther Racing), Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr. (Marlboro Team Penske).

After Dixon won the Toyota Indy 300 on March 2 at Homestead, construction crews began rebuilding the four turns, which had been banked at six degrees.

The track now has a variable banking system, and the degree of banking increases progressively from the bottom to the top of each turn. At the midpoint of each turn, there are 18 degrees of banking at the bottom, 19 degrees in the middle and 20 degrees at the top.

The track was repaved, and the SAFER Barrier, which debuted in 2002 at the 86th Indianapolis 500, was installed in the four turns.

Under development by the Indy Racing League and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Midwest Roadside Safety Facility since 1998, the SAFER Barrier was designed for multiple impacts by IRL IndyCar Series cars and stock cars during an event. NASCAR joined in the development of the project in September 2000.

Brian Barnhart, senior vice president of racing operations for the IRL, supervised the Homestead test.

"This test was conducted so we could evaluate the reconfigured Homestead-Miami Speedway, as it's obviously a lot different from when we last raced there in March." Barnhart said. "Our teams, drivers, manufacturers and league officials gathered valuable data to ensure that the IndyCar Series can put on the best race for the fans, as well as a competitive and safe environment for everyone."

Barnhart said there would be more testing at HMS in December.

"With all the changes, this is basically a new facility for the IndyCar Series, even though we've raced here since 2001," Barnhart said. "We want to ensure that our teams and drivers, as well as our engine suppliers, Chevrolet, Honda and Toyota, our chassis manufacturers, Dallara and Panoz G Force, and our official tire, Firestone, have all the data they need to ensure a good and safe show."

The 2004 IRL IndyCar Series season begins with the Toyota Indy 300 on Feb. 29, 2004 at Homestead. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN.

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