IRL: Indy 500 Test Wednesday report

Penske Teammates Pace Opening Day of Indy 500 Testing INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, April 28, 2004 -- Two-time IRL IndyCar® Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. posted the fastest speed of the first day of testing for the 88th running of the Indianapolis...

Penske Teammates Pace Opening Day of Indy 500 Testing

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, April 28, 2004 -- Two-time IRL IndyCar® Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. posted the fastest speed of the first day of testing for the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 on April 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Hornish, driver of the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, had a quick time of 41.0451 seconds (219.271 mph) in the afternoon session. His teammate, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, was second at 41.0480 seconds (219.256). Robby Gordon was third-fastest of the day at 41.1107 seconds (218.921 mph).

"It was a good day for the Marlboro Team Penske guys," Hornish said. "We tried to work on the car all day long and make it a little bit better. It's a long race out here and you have to have a good-handling car. Everybody is kind of up in the air with what they're supposed to be doing because of the new engine right now. It makes it tough. We spent a little bit more time out there than probably what we wanted to today, but I felt like we got a lot accomplished, got through a lot of things.

"(The race) is going to be a lot about patience, a lot about making moves at the right time."

Reigning IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon in the No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone was fourth quick at 41.1191 seconds (218.876).

<pre> FASTEST SPEEDS OF DAY (COMBINED SESSIONS Pos. Car Name C/E/T Speed 1 6 Sam Hornish Jr. D/T/F 219.271 mph 2 3 Helio Castroneves D/T/F 219.256 mph 3 70 Robby Gordon D/C/F 218.921 mph 4 1 Scott Dixon G/T/F 218.876 mph 5 10 Darren Manning G/T/F 218.319 mph

</pre> POST PRACTICE QUOTES:

SCOTT DIXON (No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "We tried a few things out today, but there was no point in fighting the wind. I'm happy with what we've done so far, but there's a lot of time to improve things. The track is getting faster and faster, and we should pick up more speed by the time qualifying rolls around."

DARREN MANNING (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): "The car was really good right from the start. We tried things out there on our own without running in traffic, and I'm pleased with the results so far. We called it a day a little early to save tires for tomorrow when the conditions should be a bit better."

A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Things went pretty smooth today. We weren't really trimmed out. We just made the car comfortable for me in the morning. In the afternoon, we ran a 213.3 (mph) average, and we called it a day after 6 laps because of the gusty winds. We'll try to get out early tomorrow before the wind gets kicked up in the afternoon."

LARRY FOYT (No. 14T Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "It was a good day. We ran 20-something laps this morning, and the car felt real solid. We were going to run more this afternoon, but with the wind gusting like it is, we decided it wasn't worth taking a chance. It's supposed to be better tomorrow, so we'll run more in the morning."

TORA TAKAGI (No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "It was great to be back at the Speedway today. While we were not as fast as we would have liked, it is not necessarily fair to compare our times with the leaders just yet. Many other groups had an opportunity to run here earlier in the month, but this was the very first time the Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing team had tested the new engine and aero(dynamic) package. We look forward to hitting the track again tomorrow and improving our times. We have a long way to go, but there is certainly no need to rush. The month of May includes a lot of racing, and the conditions will continue to change considerably as race day approaches."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 16 Rahal Letterman Sammy Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "The conditions were not good with the wind. We were trying different things on our car than (teammate) Buddy (Rice). Plus he'll get to test another day tomorrow, and Roger (Yasukawa) will be in the (No. 16) Sammy car on Thursday. I was impressed with how the Team Rahal engineers worked through all of the setups today. It's a very professional team. I'm very happy to be running with them at this test. I think we learned more about the (Panoz) G Force chassis. I just wish the wind wouldn't have been so strong today."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Pioneer/Argent Mortgage Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "It wasn't the best day to test with the windy conditions, but it was good to come out and get a baseline for the month of May. Actually, the car felt good in the morning despite the wind. We tried to run by ourselves when we did run, and that's probably why our times weren't as fast as some of the others. They were definitely getting a draft to run those speeds. This team is good, and they know how to test. They start with a checklist and work their way through it. Speed is important when the practice and qualifications begin, not during testing. We'll be ready to go on Thursday morning for some more testing."

MARK TAYLOR (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It's been another good day at the Speedway. It's nice to see all those Chevrolets near the top of the speed chart again. Chevy did a lot of hard work this offseason, and I think we're going to see the results this month. We felt quick, and we've already made some progress from the rookie test on Monday. There was a pretty stiff wind that was pushing the car around, so we called it a day after lunch. The guys from Panther will be out here again early tomorrow getting ready for another important test."

ALEX BARRON (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We had a great day of testing, even though it was windy out there. The wind made it difficult to make small changes on the car, so it was hard to get a feel for how good your car was. Overall, the Chevy engine was very strong, and with all of the development they have been doing on the new 3.0-liter engine, we're confident with their power going into the month of May."

ED CARPENTER (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We had another good day. We didn't get as much track time as we wanted because of the wind, but we made some more progress and are ready to give it another go tomorrow."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Arca/Ex Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It was so windy and gusty out there today. We were just doing the usual, trying to get balance in the car. I was coming through, and the wind basically got into the side of the car. It gusted and blew me up into the wall. There's no other explanation. One moment, everything was fine, and the next, the car was pushing. A big gust of wind just basically pushed the nose right up into the wall. That was certainly not what we wanted today. We were working hard enough to try to get a balance in the Arca/Ex car."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I wouldn't say it was a difficult day. It just didn't perhaps go the way we wanted it to. But, if you panic too much at this place, you can get yourself wound up. We're not even into May, yet. The people on this team are perfectly capable to turn the Klein Tools/Jim Beam car around in an afternoon, let alone a month. We don't have any issues. The good thing is we tried some different things on some different cars, and we have a direction. The main thing is when we come back to in May, we've tested some big things, so we know we can just focus on changing some of the little things."

BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The wind was really tricky, but it was a really good day for the XM car. I didn't have a very good test when I was here for the 3.0-liter test, so we kind of went back to basics to start here. The car is really a lot more comfortable now, and we're just kind of incrementally building the speed. It was just a really positive day for us."

AL UNSER JR. (No. 20 Patrick Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Things look really good. With Patrick Racing, we've put a great deal together with Chevrolet engines. The team's getting to know one another and that's what we're learning right now. It's a learning process. All in all, it was a good day. I definitely feel at home. Going out on the track today was fantastic, and I had a lot of fun. We'll just keep working with the team and the prospects are very good. Pat (Patrick) knows what to do to win around here and the team does so we're looking forward to a great month of May."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "It's great to just have a chance to have the Delphi car out on the track. The conditions are far from perfect. Very quickly people got into drafting and taking a lot of downforce out of their cars. It was more of a day to get some baseline items, get yourself a pretty decent direction for when opening day comes. As you saw, most of the people didn't run this afternoon because the winds just kept picking up, so there's no reason to spend a lot of time running in those conditions because you're probably not going to face them again."

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (No. 36 PacifiCare Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "We are just learning about the car, but I am pleased with our results today. We didn't run very much this morning, but were able to put in more laps in the afternoon and by the end of the day the car had a good balance. For sure, we were probably running more downforce than most teams today, but we are taking things step by step. We were able to run consistent lap times, and the balance of the car was good. The windy conditions were not ideal. It was making everything more difficult, but you never know what the conditions will be in qualifying or the race, so it is important to be prepared. You need a car that is good in all conditions."

KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "Today was very, very windy, but we found a very good setup, dynamics and mechanical balance. We improved two miles per hour from the day before yesterday, I am very happy about that. This track is very difficult, with the wind directions always changing, and this morning was quite cold. I'm learning to adjust to the various track conditions."

FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 24 Team Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "It felt pretty good. It was my first time back in a car, in any open-wheel car, after seven months. They gave me a really good car to start with. Conditions weren't very good, I mean, this morning was better, with the wind going one direction. It was very gusty this afternoon. The car was running OK this morning, but in the afternoon, with the wind and everything, we decided to stop. We just didn't want to take any chances on the first day out."

***

THURSDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
9 a.m. to noon: Practice
1 p.m. to 4 p.m.: Practice

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Robby Gordon , Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr. , Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing