IRL: Michigan first test notes

BROOKLYN, Mich., Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2001 - Scott Sharp and Robbie Buhl each turned laps of 221 mph during a Firestone tire test Sept. 5 at Michigan International Speedway, the first laps turned by an Indy Racing League car on the 2-mile ...

BROOKLYN, Mich., Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2001 - Scott Sharp and Robbie Buhl each turned laps of 221 mph during a Firestone tire test Sept. 5 at Michigan International Speedway, the first laps turned by an Indy Racing League car on the 2-mile oval.

The Indy Racing Northern Light Series will compete at MIS for the first time July 28, 2002.

1996 Indy Racing co-champion Sharp was the first driver on track and needed just four laps to produce a 220-mph speed in his No. 8 Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Both Sharp and Buhl, driver of the No. 24 Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone, consistently turned laps in the 218- to 220-mph range.

"The Indy Racing League has been really strong at meshing speed and raceability in their cars," Sharp said. "We've gone to other places where other series can't do very well as far as putting on a good show, and we're two- and three-abreast and putting on the best show around. "Here, obviously, the speeds are going to be pretty high. It will be probably the second-fastest track to Indianapolis. So with that, even though you're going to be up above 220 in average lap speeds, you still want to have a car that can run two-, three- maybe four-abreast at times."

Indy Racing League Vice President of Operations Brian Barnhart and Technical Director Phil Casey worked with Sharp and Buhl on different aerodynamic packages, including a superspeedway setup with a 4-degree rear wing and a 1-inch wicker.

"Firestone had some work it wanted to do here, so we used the day as a compatibility day for the series to decide what kind of wing package to use," Barnhart said. "Right now, Scott and Robbie have been very comfortable with 4 degrees in the rear wing with a 1-inch wicker bill.

"Everyone involved in the series, from the mechanics to the officials, are looking forward to racing here in 2002. It will be a great place for Indy Racing."

Buhl, who grew up in the Detroit suburbs, agrees. "I still have a lot of family in the Detroit area, but more than that, you have to look at Michigan International Speedway as a track with history and tradition," Buhl said. "This is one of the tracks you want to be at. When you think back as a kid and watching Indy cars when you're growing up, this is one of the tracks where you remember what happens.

"So, I think it's exciting for the IRL to be here. It's a great facility to have on the Indy Racing League schedule." Indy-style racing at MIS started in 1968, and an Indy-style race has taken place there annually since 1970.

In other news at Michigan, MIS President Brett Shelton and Barnhart conducted a press conference to announce the Indy Racing event schedule July 26-28.

"Brian, make yourself at home," Shelton told Barnhart at the start of the press conference. "You're (Indy Racing League) going to be here a long time."

Newly crowned Northern Light Cup champion Sam Hornish Jr. also attended the press conference, calling MIS his home track because it's only a 45-minute drive from his home in Defiance, Ohio.

The Indy Racing weekend includes a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race July 27.

Reserved grandstand seats for the Indy Racing event July 28 will cost $40 each, with children 12 and under free. A two-day truck-Indy Racing combination ticket, good for admission to both races, will be $50, a savings of $20 over buying both tickets individually.

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "The Indy Racing League has been really strong at meshing speed and raceability in their cars. We've gone to other places where other series can't do very well as far as putting on a good show, and we're two- and three-abreast and putting on the best show around. Here, obviously, the speeds are going to be pretty high. It will be probably the second-fastest track to Indianapolis. So with that, even though you're going to be up above 220 in average lap speeds, you still want to have a car that can run two-, three- maybe four-abreast at times. Brian's (Barnhart) searching for what that definitive wing angle will be that gives you -- obviously we want to be fast -- a package that is really raceable and puts on a good show, too."

ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone): "I grew up in Detroit, and everyone's been saying 'What's it mean to come back to Michigan and race?' and that's all great and fine. I still have a lot of family in the Detroit area, but more than that, you have to look at Michigan International Speedway as a track with history and tradition. This is one of the tracks you want to be at. When you think back as a kid and watching Indy cars when you're growing up, this is one of the tracks where you remember what happens. So, I think it's exciting for the IRL to be here. It's a great facility to have on the Indy Racing League schedule. We have Richmond at 3/4-mile, we've got Indy at two-and-a-half miles, now we have this at 2 miles, and we have all the one-and-a-half miles - it's a great mix. And you know, you've got Texas that's fantastic. Chicago and Kansas City, all those new tracks are nice, gorgeous facilities, and they're building their tradition. This place (Michigan) is different. People know about Michigan from 10 years ago, 15 years ago in racing. So, that's what I think is exciting about coming back here."

-IRNLS/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robbie Buhl , Scott Sharp , Brian Barnhart , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Dreyer & Reinbold Racing