IRL: Rookie Orientation Program Indy 500 summary

Four Drivers Complete Rookie Orientation Program INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, April 26, 2004 -- Ed Carpenter, Kosuke Matsuura, Mark Taylor and Luis Diaz passed the four required speed phases during Rookie Orientation Program activities April 26 at...

Four Drivers Complete Rookie Orientation Program

INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, April 26, 2004 -- Ed Carpenter, Kosuke Matsuura, Mark Taylor and Luis Diaz passed the four required speed phases during Rookie Orientation Program activities April 26 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Jeff Simmons and Marty Roth completed three of the four phases and are eligible to participate in practice during the Month of May. Larry Foyt tested for A.J. Foyt Racing but did not have to complete the speed phases due to his previous high-speed experience.

The Rookie Orientation Program at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is designed to provide first-year drivers an informal opportunity to get acquainted with the 2.5-mile oval.

Drivers had to complete four 10-lap speed phases, which were set by IRL Senior Vice President of Racing Operations Brian Barnhart based on the weather and track conditions. They were: Phase 1: 195-200 mph; Phase 2: 200-205 mph; Phase 3: 205-210 mph; and Phase 4: 210 mph-plus.

In other IndyCar Series news, Felipe Giaffone was named as the replacement for recently retired Robbie Buhl in the No. 24 Team Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone. Giaffone will make his debut as the IndyCar Series Open Test, which has been rescheduled for Wednesday, April 28 and Thursday, April 29 due to anticipated cold weather in the Indianapolis area.

ROOKIE ORIENTATION PROGRAM QUOTES:

MARK TAYLOR (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It was really good. It was a nice beautiful day here. I'm able to take some time without so many people out there to make sure I'm comfortable in the car. The car felt great, and I was able to get the rookie test out of the way. We're looking for a good month of May now." (About the difference between IndyCar Series cars and Menard Infiniti Pro Series cars): "They're completely different as far as setup is concerned. You're making the IndyCar (Series car) work a lot harder on the tires. The Infiniti car was flat out pretty easy. It's a real challenge with the IndyCar (Series car). You're going into (Turn) 1, and the approach is a lot quicker there. Thirty or 40 miles an hour is a pretty big change compared to how it was in the Infiniti cars. Getting used to it, you gradually build the speed up. With the high speed that you have, you've just got to get used to the speed."

LARRY FOYT (No. 14T A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "It was awesome. I just had a blast out there. I've been here my whole life watching this race, watching the Indy 500. To finally get to drive one of these things around here is everything I thought it'd be." (About the difference between running a Nextel Cup car at the Speedway and an IndyCar Series car): "Obviously, the speed. I don't want to say which one's more difficult than the other because we had quite a bit of downforce on the car today, just trying to run consistent. We didn't really try to run fast. The speed is something to get used to, and you run a little bit different line. A stock car, you try to get it down in the corner, and with these cars, you try to arc it in a little bit. It's going to be a long learning month for me, I'm sure, but everything went really well today."

ED CARPENTER (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It went really smooth. We weren't in a big rush. We had all day to get the rookie test done, so we went out and did everything real methodically. The car was great, and Chevy did a good job with the engine, so we got it out of the way really quick." (About differences between the Infiniti Pro Series car, in which he won last year's Freedom 100, and the IndyCar Series car): "The biggest thing is everything revolves around the speed. Some of my warm-up laps were close to what I ran on pole (in the Freedom 100) last year. When you get up to around 215 (mph), the groove's a lot smaller, and your margin for error is a lot smaller. That's the biggest thing. You have to be much more precise, and it's more of a mental strain."

KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "I'm very interested to drive this track. This track is the greatest circuit in the world. Of course, the track is very fast. This is the biggest race, but it's one of 16 races (in the IRL IndyCar Series season). At this time, I have to work a lot with the car because I'm a rookie driver. I'm learning about the track, driving it and also American racing."

LUIS DIAZ (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "It's a great feeling to be here at this great track. I think it's the most important track in the world. The car's very good, and I'm with one of the best teams in the series. I've been learning a lot on the track. This is my first time on the track and in this car, so I'm just taking things very calm and with a lot of patience." (About whether he will compete in the Indianapolis 500): "I don't know yet. I just came to help the team to make some laps, and that's all. I'm just driving today. If a chance for racing comes, it'll be great, but if not, I'm very happy doing this today. Let's see what happens."

JEFF SIMMONS (No. 14T A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "There's so many people I have to thank for this opportunity. Obviously A.J. (Foyt) and A.J. Foyt Racing and Toyota for the opportunity to do some more laps and move into May with the possibility of getting a ride for the 500. I had some guys who helped me get a seat made over the weekend and so many people pitched in. Brian Barnhart was working hard to get me into a seat and it was a thrill driving around in an IndyCar (Series) car." (About getting up to speed quickly): "I knew they had run the car this morning, and Larry (Foyt) was comfortable. I spoke with A.J. before I went out, and he told me what he thought it was going to do and how the wind was going to affect me out there, and he was right on. There were no surprises from the car." (Does your past experience in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series help you here?): "I think it helps a lot. Being able to drive around the track before, I knew exactly where I was supposed to look. It was just a matter of looking quicker and staying a little further ahead of the car."

MARTY ROTH (No. 25 Roth Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We were under the gun getting the car ready, and my guys did a fantastic job putting it out here. These guys worked late last night and early this morning putting the car together. We missed the whole morning session, but we pulled it together at the end. The car ran great. We have some work to do to get over the final hump, but overall, it was a great day. It was the first run for this car, and all went well."

<pre> FASTEST SPEEDS OF ROOKIE ORIENTATION PROGRAM Pos. Car Name C/E/T Speed 1 52 Ed Carpenter D/C/F 215.584 mph 2 55 Kosuke Matsuura G/H/F 214.322 mph 3 2 Mark Taylor D/C/F 212.920 mph 4 14T Jeff Simmons D/T/F 212.261 mph 5 10 Luis Diaz G/T/F 210.498 mph

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