IRL: Lazier leads Richmond testing, breaks 160 MPH

RICHMOND, Va., Friday, April 20, 2001 - At the end of the day, Buddy Lazier said he was amazed how fast the Indy Racing cars were cornering around the .75-mile, D-shaped Richmond International Raceway. Most of the other fans and onlookers at ...

RICHMOND, Va., Friday, April 20, 2001 - At the end of the day, Buddy Lazier said he was amazed how fast the Indy Racing cars were cornering around the .75-mile, D-shaped Richmond International Raceway.

Most of the other fans and onlookers at Richmond Friday were just simply amazed.

Lazier led a speed assault at Richmond during the Indy Racing League's open test when he first cracked the 17-second barrier in morning practice with a lap of 16.994, 158.088 mph. He topped that in the afternoon when he broke the 160-mph mark with his lap of 16.796, 160.753 driving the No. 91 Tae-Bo/Coors Light/Delta Faucet Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone car owned by Ron Hemelgarn.

"Today was fun," said Lazier just minutes after climbing from the car after his final run. "We accomplished a lot. The goal was to learn as much as we could because this is a new facility for all of us." Four other teams joined Hemelgarn Racing Friday in testing for the inaugural Indy Racing Northern Light Series' event at Richmond scheduled for Saturday night, June 30, 2001.

The five teams completed a total of 753 laps during the seven hours of testing, with most teams working on a baseline for their return in June. All agreed the baseline will help when they return under much warmer conditions.

"The teams and drivers did a great job today," said Brian Barnhart, the Indy Racing League's vice president of operations. "There were a few wiggles by just about each driver, and I doubt that those will be the last we see. But, all the drivers are talking about what a fun and challenging race this will be.

"Doug Fritz (RIR president) and his staff have a fine facility here. The place was all ready for the Indy Racing teams this morning, and the number of laps we ran today proved that. All of us at the Indy Racing League are looking forward to working with them in producing a great event for the fans in June."

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series veteran Randy Tolsma holds the track record at Richmond International Raceway with a lap of 131.374 mph. He posted the fast time in 1996 driving in the USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet Series.

<pre> The day's best laps with time and speed follow:

Position Driver                 Best Lap Time   Speed   Laps
1.      Buddy Lazier            16.796 sec.     160.753 mph     172
2.      Eddie Cheever Jr.       16.944 sec.     159.348 mph     247
3.      Sarah Fisher            17.113 sec.     157.775 mph     136
4.      Davey Hamilton          17.211 sec.     156.876 mph     109
5.      Buzz Calkins            17.874 sec.     151.057 mph     89

</pre> Shuttle Service: Eddie Cheever Jr. and Buddy Lazier have spent a lot of time in the air this week as both drivers tested at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway early in the week, before heading to Talladega Superspeedway for Saturday's IROC practice. Thursday night, the pair flew from Alabama to Richmond on Lazier's family plane for the Indy Racing test. Cheever and Lazier were leaving immediately after the post-test autograph session for their return flight to Alabama.

***

BUZZ CALKINS (No. 12 Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, 1996 Indy Racing co-champion): "I believe it's going to be a great race here. I might not have said that two months ago. The trick today was learning how to get around this place, and we learned a lot. This track will be the most challenging track for us as drivers this year. It will be interesting."

EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (#51 Excite@ Home Indy Racing Car Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner): "It's been a hectic week - testing at Indy, testing the IROC car at Talladega and running here today. But, I'm glad we came, and we're where we want to be. We worked on establishing a good baseline, gathering data and beating up on the engine. We did three full-tank runs. One of those went really well. Heading into May, we didn't want to abuse anything, and we're leaving here clean."

BUDDY LAZIER (#91 Tae-Bo/Coors Light/Delta Faucet Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner, 2001 Indy Racing Champion): "Today was fun. We accomplished a lot. The goal was to learn as much as we could because this is a new facility for all of us. I'm amazed at how fast we're turning the corners here. It took some time adjusting to the sealant they have on the track, but it wasn't a problem."

SARAH FISHER (No. 15 Walker Racing/Kroger Special Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "We spent time developing a good baseline. The team learned a lot this afternoon. For the driver, here, you're always fighting. The car is never consistent. The car has an attitude, and you're always chasing its attitude which makes this a good driver's track."

DAVEY HAMILTON (No. 99 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Racing Special Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "We're certainly glad we came. I think we're right in there with the rest of them, but we still have some room to improve. We're having to do things to this car that we don't normally do. There's no comparison to the Silver Crown cars. (Hamilton has raced at RIR in a USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet event.) Hopefully, during the race, the type of racing will be the same, places to pass, traffic, and that will help. It's going to be great racing."

-IRNLS/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Buzz Calkins , Sarah Fisher , Eddie Cheever , Buddy Lazier , Davey Hamilton , Sam Schmidt , Randy Tolsma , Brian Barnhart