IRL: Richmond test report

Dixon leads rain-shortened Richmond open test. RICHMOND, Va., Thursday, May 29, 2003 - Scott Dixon posted the fastest speed of the day May 29 in a rain-shortened Indy Racing League IndyCar( Series Open Test at Richmond International ...

Dixon leads rain-shortened Richmond open test.

RICHMOND, Va., Thursday, May 29, 2003 - Scott Dixon posted the fastest speed of the day May 29 in a rain-shortened Indy Racing League IndyCar( Series Open Test at Richmond International Raceway.

Dixon, driver of the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, turned a lap of 16.3374 seconds, 165.265 mph on his first visit to RIR.

"It's a lot of fun out there," Dixon said. "When I first pulled in, I thought it was a go-kart track. It's a very short track, but it's a lot of fun. With these cars and how competitive the series is, it's going to be a very competitive race."

Rain began falling at approximately 11:15 a.m. (EDT). The track was officially closed at approximately 2:15 p.m. Though originally only scheduled as a one-day test, due to the limited track time, the Open Test will conclude Friday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

The IndyCar Series returns to RIR on Saturday evening, June 28 for the third annual SunTrust Indy Challenge.

Scott Sharp, the 1996 IndyCar Series co-champion, was second fastest of the day, turning a lap of 16.5461, 163.180 in his No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone.

"It is just great for us to get here," Sharp said. "I think some teams chose to skip this Open Test. With so many new faces on the Kelley team that have never been here before, it was important for us just to get some baseline running in."

Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves was third in his No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone at 16.5914, 162.735. Tomas Scheckter, Dixon's teammate, was fourth at 16.5980, 162.670 in his No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone.

Robbie Buhl, driver of the No. 24 Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, rounded out the top five at 16.6160, 162.494.

"We were happy with everything," Buhl said. "It's really a fun track to drive. We just came from Indianapolis which is 2.5 miles, flat and smooth. And then to come here, it's 3/4-mile, and there's some bumps-I think that's one of the strengths of the series is having such diversity in the tracks we go to. And that would be the extreme, from Indy to here.

"Things went pretty well this morning. We're happy with what we have. We're one of the Chevy teams; Chevy is working hard to make more power for us, but at a lot of the tracks we go to, that maybe isn't as much of a premium versus a handling scenario at a track like this, so we're excited to come here."

Newly crowned Indianapolis 500 champion Gil de Ferran, driver of the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, made his first on-track appearance since winning the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" on May 25. De Ferran was 13th fastest at 17.1905, 157.063.

There was one accident during the abbreviated track time. At approximately 10:15 a.m., rookie Dan Wheldon made contact with the outside retaining wall in Turn 2. Wheldon was unhurt, but the right side of his No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone suffered moderate to heavy damage.

"I'm not exactly sure what happened," Wheldon said. "We just had a small failure, and unfortunately on these ovals when you have a slight failure, it takes you in the wall. I don't know exactly what happened, just that the left front collapsed. Just coming out of (Turn) 2, the front left just dropped, the suspension just dropped, and it pushed me into the wall."

Wheldon turned only eight laps before his accident.

The SunTrust Indy Challenge on June 27 will be the second of three night races on the 2003 IndyCar Series schedule. The 3/4-mile oval is the shortest track the series competes on all year.

The 250-lap, 187.5-mile race will be broadcast live at 8 p.m. (EDT) on ESPN and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network. Tickets are available by calling (804) 345-RACE or logging onto www.rir.com.

<pre> Richmond International Raceway Open Test Speeds, May 29, 2003

No.     Car     Driver             Car                                   Time    Speed  Laps
1       9       Scott Dixon        Target Chip Ganassi Racing G/T/F      16.3374 165.265 77
2       8       Scott Sharp        Delphi D/T/F                          16.5461 163.180 68
3       3       Helio Castroneves  Marlboro Team Penske D/T/F            16.5914 162.735 62
4       10      Tomas Scheckter    Target Chip Ganassi Racing G/T/F      16.5980 162.670 78
5       24      Robbie Buhl        Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold D/C/F 16.6160 162.494 89
6       11      Tony Kanaan        Team 7-Eleven D/H/F                   16.7003 161.674 18
7       21      Felipe Giaffone    Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing G/T/F        16.7986 160.728 85
8       13      Greg Ray           TrimSpa Special G/H/F                 16.8245 160.480 50
9       31      Al Unser Jr.       Corteco D/T/F                         16.8321 160.408 53
10      15      Kenny Brack        Pioneer/Miller Lite D/H/F             16.9245 159.524 37
11      12      Tora Takagi        Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing G/T/F          17.1259 157.656 60
12      55      Roger Yasukawa (R) Panasonic ARTA D/H/F                  17.1542 157.396 49
13      6       Gil de Ferran      Marlboro Team Penske D/T/F            17.1905 157.063 41
14      52      Buddy Rice         Red Bull Cheever Racing D/C/F         18.1385 148.855 35
15      26      Dan Wheldon (R)    Klein Tools/Jim Beam D/H/F            18.9075 142.800 8

(R) - Rookie

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Greg Ray , Felipe Giaffone , Al Unser Jr. , Robbie Buhl , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Tora Takagi , Kenny Brack , Dan Wheldon , Roger Yasukawa , Buddy Rice , Chip Ganassi , Jim Beam , Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing