Sharp finds plenty of speed at Richmond test. INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, June 19, 2002 -- Scott Sharp was the fastest of three drivers preparing for the SunTrust Indy Challenge on June 29 at Richmond International Raceway during testing June 18-19...
Sharp finds plenty of speed at Richmond test.
INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, June 19, 2002 -- Scott Sharp was the fastest of three drivers preparing for the SunTrust Indy Challenge on June 29 at Richmond International Raceway during testing June 18-19 at the ¾-mile oval.
Sharp turned a top lap of 16.40 seconds, 164.634 mph in the No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone. That was more than 4 mph faster than last year's MBNA Pole speed of 160.417 set by Jaques Lazier.
"I think all of the drivers had to learn a lot last year," Sharp said. "We were happy with the progress we made at the race last year. We got very competitive by the end of the race, but felt we could come back here and get some different ideas.
"We're trying to get a different baseline and a more secure car. We ran some qualifying runs and some longer runs of around 100 laps."
1996 Indy Racing League co-champion Sharp, who finished fifth in the inaugural SunTrust Indy Challenge last year, turned 250 laps during two days of testing. Also testing were his Kelley Racing teammate, Al Unser Jr., and Mark Dismore of Team Menard.
Unser was the busiest of the three drivers at the test, turning 300 laps in his No. 7 Corteco/Bryant Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone. His best lap was 16.75, 161.190 -- also faster than Lazier's pole speed from 2001.
"We had a great time here last year, and I'm really excited about coming back," Unser said. "I talked with all of the guys the week after our race last year, and we all agreed it was such a fun place to race.
"It was a 'Saturday Night Fight,' and we all expect it to be that way again. We're here in the middle of NASCAR country, and last year, the fans accepted us with open arms, which was great to see."
Dismore turned 135 laps in the No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville/Pittsburgh Paints Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, with a top lap of 17.0, 158.824. The SunTrust Indy Challenge will be Dismore's second start with the team, as he replaced Raul Boesel before the Radisson Indy 225 on June 16 at Pikes Peak International Raceway.
"The race last week at Pikes Peak was like a practice race for me," Dismore said. "The Richmond race will really be like my season debut, so I'm really glad we came here to test and get in some miles.
"We lift here at both ends of the racetrack, which is very unusual for us. At some places, we don't lift at all. You want to be aggressive here, but if you get in close, the guy in front of you may not see you, so you really have to watch it. It's a neat track for us to be at, and I'm looking forward to coming back here."
IRL points leader Helio Castroneves, Radisson Indy 225 winner Gil de Ferran, 2001 Indy Racing League Rookie of the Year Felipe Giaffone and Blair Racing rookie Alex Barron tested June 18 at Kansas Speedway, site of the Ameristar Casino Indy 200 on July 7.
"We thought the facility was outstanding, very modern and nice," Blair Racing General Manager Bob Sprow said. "The track is great. We had a good test and were running on pace with the other teams that were there.
"We were able to test a few things that we thought might work for the race - and did. We look forward to coming back for the race."