IRL: Meira Fastest at Texas

Fort Worth, Texas (September 13, 2002) - Vitor Meira set the fastest lap of the day at Texas Motor Speedway driving Team Menard's Chevrolet-powered Dallara. Meira's lap at 221.457 mph was just a tick faster than Eddie Cheever in an...

Fort Worth, Texas (September 13, 2002) - Vitor Meira set the fastest lap of the day at Texas Motor Speedway driving Team Menard's Chevrolet-powered Dallara. Meira's lap at 221.457 mph was just a tick faster than Eddie Cheever in an Infiniti-powered car. Meira and Cheever were the only two drivers to record speeds over 221 mph.

Both drivers set their best lap during the first practice session.

"We were doing qualifying setup," said Meira. "I don't know if it's quick enough or not. We're still working on it, but I think it's going to be better for qualifying."

Cheever was also working on qualifying in the morning. In the afternoon, with full tanks, Cheever was fifth fastest at 220.455 mph. Cheever, who admitted to having a tow on his best lap said, "I think a high 220 (mph) will probably be good enough for the front row."

Kelley Racing teammates Scott Sharp and Al Unser Jr., were third and fourth on the day, respectively.

"Obviously, I got a tow on that lap," said Sharp, after running 220.833 mph. "We probably don't expect to qualify all that well. We haven't been lately. We're just trying to work on our race setup, trying to work in and out of traffic."

Cheever's teammate Buddy Rice rounded out the top five.

Helio Castroneves, who is one of two drivers vying for the championship this weekend, was sixth at 220.229 mph. "Today we worked on the race setup in both practice sessions. In the second session I was able to run side-by-side with several other drivers, so we were able to simulate the conditions we'll see on Sunday."

Current points leader, Sam Hornish had a fuel line break this morning, causing his Pennzoil Panther No. 4 to catch fire. Hornish only managed seven laps in the first session, ending up 24th.

The Panther team prepared the No. 4T car for the afternoon session allowing Hornish to complete 40 laps. Ninth in the second session, Hornish ended the day 11th overall with a lap at 219.675 mph.

"We're pretty much a practice session behind right now, but we know what we need to do for qualifying so we're not worried about that," said Hornish. "We're trying to figure out what we need to do to make it work real well in traffic because that's what we'll be facing all day in Sunday."

Max Papis in his first appearance in an Indy Racing car since competing with Cheever Racing at Indianapolis ended the day 14th overall. Papis set his fastest lap in the first session at 219.188 mph.

In the second session, Papis dropped to 217.752 mph. Papis, who was here with CART when they refused to race said, "the IRL cars can run much closer than the CART cars."

Although he put 82 laps under his belt in the Marlboro Penske car, Papis has yet to experience the thrill of racing in a 10-car pack. He said he was able to get comfortable in the first session "and get a good feel for the track," which will allow him to run in both grooves. "We'll be in good shape for the race."

Notes from the Chevy 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway

There are several new driver/team combinations this weekend. Cory Kruseman is in the No. 18 PDM entry while Robby McGehee joins the Red Bull Cheever team in the No. 53. Marlboro Team Penske has retained the services of Max Papis to substitute for the injured Gil de Ferran.

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The Chevy 500 marks the 11th time the Indy Racing League has competed at the high bank Texas Motor Speedway.

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For purposes of calculating speed the track distance has been set at 1.455 miles.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby McGehee , Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Max Papis , Buddy Rice , Cory Kruseman , Sam Hornis , Vitor Meira
Teams Team Penske