Indy Racing League Notebook
Buhl tests at Phoenix; Foyt, Rutherford to go duck hunting
INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2003 --IRL IndyCar(R) Series veteran Robbie Buhl tested Dec. 1-2 at Phoenix International Raceway in preparation for the 2004 season.
Buhl, driver of the No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, is hoping to improve the team's performance on short ovals.
"We've gotten a lot of stuff done for Chevy, and it's been good for us to spend the last couple of days with the Chevy guys to get to know them better," Buhl said. "I've never really been happy with this car at Nazareth (1-mile), St. Louis (1.25-miles) or Phoenix (1-mile), but I'm as happy as I have ever been with the car on the mile ovals. It's taken us a long time to get there, but we're closer.
"We ran trouble-free miles, kept learning about car and made headway about what we wanted to learn. Now we're in the ballpark, whereas before we just weren't in the game. We're out here to try some new stuff, new configurations and just see what it does to improve my feel for the car."
Team manager John O'Gara was pleased with the results of the test.
"We've tried some different setups, and I have gotten done a lot of what Chevy wanted us to accomplish," O'Gara said. "Robbie's consistently picked up more speed, and we've been working on better launches out of the pits, so it's been a good trip for us."
The test was Buhl's first opportunity to drive on the slightly reconfigured 1-mile Phoenix oval. Construction crews eliminated the opening in the backstretch wall and widened the exit to Turn 2. In addition, a portion of Turn 4 was torn up to build a tunnel, and a piece of asphalt in that area had to be repaved.
"Everything they've done is, without a doubt, for the better," Buhl said. "They've opened it up in (Turn) 2, so there's a little more breathing room. It's not really any faster per se, but I think it will allow for better racing, because you have more track coming off (Turn) 2.
"If a car is better up on top, you can get a run on them instead of a single-file exit. In (Turn) 4, it's visually different without the bridge, but you get used to it. Plus, the weather's been perfect, which is sometimes hit or miss this time of year."
Buhl is expected to test again Dec. 3 at Phoenix along with IndyCar Series drivers Sam Hornish Jr. (Marlboro Team Penske), Dan Wheldon (Andretti Green Racing) and Darren Manning (Target Chip Ganassi Racing).
Gone hunting: Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford will join NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver David Starr on a charity duck hunt Dec. 7-9 in southeast Texas.
The special weekend package was put together as an auction item for the Speedway Children's Charities Texas Chapter and was auctioned at the annual SCC gala in October. Chaz Glace, owner of Chasco Contracting in Round Rock, Texas, was the highest bidder at $3,300.
For his donation to SCC, Glace will head to the southeast Texas coast near Galveston, where he will join the racing trio at the East Bay Hunting Lodge in Smith Point, Texas for the three-day trip.
More racing at Richmond: The USAC National Sprint Car Series will compete on the same weekend as the IndyCar Series Sun Trust Indy Challenge June 25-26 at Richmond International Raceway, track officials announced Dec. 3.
The Sprint Car race will take place on Friday, June 25 as part of the fourth annual "Extreme Speed, Extreme Excitement" weekend. The all open-wheel weekend will include the fourth annual SunTrust Indy Challenge and the Dominic's of New York 100 USAC Silver Crown Championship Series event, both scheduled for Saturday, June 26.
The USAC National Sprint Car Series will practice, qualify and hold a last-chance qualifying race before a 60-lap feature event, "The Showdown at Sundown." The $15 race ticket includes an IndyCar Series drivers autograph session and MBNA Pole qualifying for the SunTrust Indy Challenge.
"We are very pleased to add another race to the SunTrust Indy Challenge weekend," said Doug Fritz, president of Richmond International Raceway. "Our fans told us that they wanted additional racing on Friday night, and we are thrilled to bring the USAC National Sprint Car Series to Richmond International Raceway. Regardless of the series, all of our races feature tremendous side-by-side action, and I'm sure the USAC Sprint Cars will put on a tremendous show."
Hot Laps: Buzz Calkins, winner of the inaugural IRL IndyCar Series event on Jan. 27, 1996 at Walt Disney World Speedway, recently married his longtime girlfriend, Meredith Brown. The couple was married on Nov. 22 at the South Seas Resort in Captiva Island, Fla--Fans wishing to join the Arie Luyendyk Jr. fan club can do so at www.arieluyendykjr.com.