IRL: Stephan Gregoire fastest in opening practice at Orlando

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Thursday, Jan. 27, 2000 -- All eyes were on two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Al Unser Jr.'s first Indy Racing League practice session Thursday, but Frenchman Stephan Gregoire turned the eye-opening lap in ...

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Thursday, Jan. 27, 2000 -- All eyes were on two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Al Unser Jr.'s first Indy Racing League practice session Thursday, but Frenchman Stephan Gregoire turned the eye-opening lap in preparation for the Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway on Saturday. Gregoire clocked a nifty 21.266-second circuit of the 1-mile tri-oval in his Dick Simon-owned Mexmil-Tokheim-Viking Air Tools G Force/Aurora/Firestone, an average speed of 169.284 mph using the new 3.5-liter engine. "I believe this is my first experience (topping the speed chart) since I have been in the United States," Gregoire said. "I did it before in Europe. This is a very special day for me." Defending Indy Racing League champion Greg Ray recorded the second-best speed at 168.761 in his Conseco-Menards Dallara/Aurora/Firestone. Rounding out the top five were: Scott Sharp, 167.942; Buddy Lazier, 167.442 and Robbie Buhl, 166.968. Lazier drove a Riley & Scott, so all three league chassis were represented in the top five. Unser turned in a fast speed of 164.564 in his Tickets.com G Force/Aurora/Firestone - 13th fastest overall -- as he made his official Indy Racing debut with car owner Rick Galles. Unser has driven since 1982 on the CART circuit and won the Indy 500 in 1992 and 1994. Gregoire said his team's performance gives him confidence going into Friday 's qualifying session. "Hopefully, it will make a big difference on race day," added Gregoire, whose best Indy Racing League finish in 32 races was a second at Pikes Peak in 1997. Simon was not surprised at Gregoire's domination of first-day practice speeds. "He was fastest the three days we were here testing," Simon said. "Our communication is better. He seems more aggressive. He wants to go." Second-year driver John Hollansworth Jr. was the only driver involved in an incident on a day that started with the temperature at 33 degrees. His TeamXtreme-Lycos G Force/Aurora/Firestone hit the wall in Turn 1, but Hollansworth was uninjured. Pole qualifying starts at 12:30 p.m. Friday. The 200-lap Delphi Indy 200 starts at noon Sunday.

DELPHI INDY 200 AT WALT DISNEY WORLD SPEEDWAY NOTEBOOK

Schedule: The Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway starts at noon (EST) Jan. 29. Pole qualifying starts at 12:30 p.m. Jan. 28. Practice resumes at 10 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. Jan. 28. An autograph session with all Indy Racing drivers is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Jan. 28 in the Midway outside Turn 3 at the track. The USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet Series 50-lap feature starts at 2:30 p.m. Jan. 29, with qualifying for that event at 2 p.m. Jan. 28. On the air: The Delphi Indy 200 will be televised live on ABC at noon (EST) Jan. 29 on ABC. The debut of "Indy Racing 2Day" will be at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 29 on ESPN2. ESPN2 will televise pole qualifying at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 28. The Indy Racing Radio Network will broadcast a 30-minute prerace show at 11:30 a.m. Jan. 29, followed by the live race broadcast at noon. The area IRRN affiliate is WQTM-AM 740, Maitland, Fla. The IRRN race broadcast also will be available live on the Internet at www.indyracingleague.com as part of a partnership between Indy Racing Online and Yahoo!/broadcast.com, the world's leading Web broadcast site. Satellite uplink: A Video News Release of highlights from the Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway will be available via satellite Jan. 28-29. Feeds will include video with sound and driver interviews. The dates, times and coordinates: Qualifying package: 4:30-4:45 p.m. (EST) Jan. 28, SBS 6, Transponder 4 Race package: 4:30-4:45 p.m. (EST) Jan. 29, Telstar 5K, Transponder 19 Tickets: Tickets are available for the Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway by calling (800) 822-INDY or by visiting tickets.com at http://www.tickets.com . Ticket information also is available on the World Wide Web at http://www.indy200.com .

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Al Unser Jr. , Robbie Buhl , Buddy Lazier , Stephan Gregoire , Scott Sharp , Dick Simon