IPS: Chicagoland test report

Infiniti Pro Series dial in cars at 175 mph at Chicagoland. JOLIET, Ill., Monday, June 24, 2002 -- On Aug. 31, 2001, plans for the Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series were unveiled at Chicagoland Speedway, two days before the inaugural Delphi Indy...

Infiniti Pro Series dial in cars at 175 mph at Chicagoland.

JOLIET, Ill., Monday, June 24, 2002 -- On Aug. 31, 2001, plans for the Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series were unveiled at Chicagoland Speedway, two days before the inaugural Delphi Indy 300 Indy Racing League event at the 1.5-mile oval.

On June 24, 2002, 297 days after the announcement and at the same track, eight drivers representing six teams completed a total of 639 laps in their new Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series cars during the development series' Open Test. Speeds peaked at 177 mph.

It was the second Open Test day for the new development series, and the second time temperatures soared past the 90-degree mark during the tests. On June 22, eight drivers representing five teams shook down their cars at the 1.25-mile Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill., also in hot and humid conditions.

Ed Carpenter, Matt Halliday, Mike Koss, Arie Luyendyk Jr., G.J. Mennen, Jason Priestley, Tony Renna and Marty Roth tested their Infiniti-powered Dallara chassis on Firestone tires at Chicagoland Speedway. All but Carpenter and Roth tested at Gateway.

"It's a completely different feel, so that's why I'm using this test to get comfortable in the car," said Carpenter, driver of the No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. "In the USAC cars, I hop in, and it's just like second nature because I've been driving them so long, but this thing still feels a little different. It's like I moved into a new house or something. I'm still finding my way around and getting to see how it works."

Roth, driver of the No. 3 Brian Stewart Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, was impressed with the car and hopes his time in the Infiniti Pro Series will pay dividends.

"It's a great car," Roth said. "It should be a really good series. I'm here to go racing and do it in a very serious way. Getting involved in the Infiniti Pro Series was a great opportunity to take Brian Stewart's experience and bring it forward into the Indy Racing League. My goal is to race in the Indy Racing League, and the Infiniti Pro Series is the vehicle that can take me there."

Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series Executive Director Roger Bailey was pleased with the progress made at the Chicagoland test.

"It was an extremely successful day," Bailey said. "I was delighted at the level of preparation and performance we saw today. We had no mechanical problems. I think everything bodes well for a great first race in Kansas. I am extremely excited about the future of the series."

The inaugural, seven-race Infiniti Pro Series season will begin July 7 at Kansas Speedway and culminate with the season finale Sept. 14 at Texas Motor Speedway.

The 100-mile Infiniti Pro Series "sprints" will take place at the same track and on the same day as Indy Racing League events except for the Texas race, which will be conducted the day before the IRL's season-ending Chevy 500.

Drivers will compete for a $100,000 purse at each Infiniti Pro Series race, and all events will be broadcast by ESPN2 and distributed worldwide via ESPN International.

Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series Open Test Quotebook:

ED CARPENTER (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): (About the first race at Kansas Speedway): "A few months ago it seemed like it was really far away, and now all of a sudden it's just around the corner. I'm looking forward to it and hoping everything goes well and the Menards car runs well." (About adapting from the front-engine USAC Weld Silver Crown Series car to the rear-engine Infiniti Pro Series car): "It's a completely different feel, so that's why I'm using this test to get comfortable in the car. In the USAC cars, I hop in and it's just like second nature because I've been driving them so long, but this thing still feels a little different. It's like I moved into a new house or something. I'm still finding my way around and getting to see how it works. The first couple of laps going into the corner, I'm used to in my USAC cars being all the way out of the gas and on the brake, and this thing you just run wide open. I knew in my head the car was going to hold it, but the first couple of times, because I'm not used to doing it, it's like, 'Oh.' Then once I did it one time, I knew I could do it. My foot knows I can do it, my head knows I can do it, so it's all right."

ARIE LUYENDYK JR. (No. 5 Luyendyk Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "The car is great. I think it will make for some great racing. It's a little stiff and has a lot of downforce, so that's a job for engineers to figure out how to trim them out. Chicagoland's a great track. It's the biggest track I've ever been to, so it was fun. I think it's going to be important to keep a good pace and stay with the leaders, make sure you're in the same group so you can work off of each other and slipstream because I think obviously with the amount of downforce this car has, being in the draft with other drivers is really going to play an important role. I don't think qualifying will be that important because of how close the field will be. I think it will be very close and very competitive, so I'm excited." (About advice he's received from his father, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk): "He just tells me to be smooth and to work your way, build up confidence as you go out. At Chicago, Kansas and a lot of the tracks, you're flat out pretty quickly, so it's just how you set up your car."

MARTY ROTH (No. 3 Brian Stewart Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "It's a great car. It should be a really good series. I'm here to go racing and do it in a very serious way. I'm with a very serious team. We should be doing very well this year, and I'm looking forward to a very strong season. Getting involved in the Infiniti Pro Series was a great opportunity to take Brian Stewart's experience and bring it forward into the Indy Racing League. My goal is to race in the Indy Racing League, and the Infiniti Pro Series is the vehicle that can take me there."

MIKE KOSS (Bowes Seal Fast Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "It went well. I think the future is looking very good for the series. It was a pretty good speed today, and I think there's going to be some more speed. It's going to be a great deal."

JASON PRIESTLEY (No. 7 HomeMed Kelley Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): (About the similarities between racing and acting): "The focus and concentration required for the two is somewhat similar, but the duration of the focus is much longer in a race car. You certainly need to concentrate and be focused doing both things, but that's pretty much where the similarities end. My goal is to compete well in the Infiniti Pro Series and win races in this series. That's what I'm focusing on right now. This is a great opportunity, and I'm going to make the most of it." (About working with Kelley Racing test driver/driving coach Tony Renna): "Tony's awesome. He's only 25 years old, but he's so smart about racing and these types of cars. Having him around is going to shorten the learning process for me. His knowledge is amazing for a guy his age. It's fantastic."

G.J. MENNEN (Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): (About Chicagoland Speedway): "It's a lot of turning, not a lot of straightaway." (About the Infiniti Pro Series): "It's amazing they've been able to pull this off so quick. Compared to a stock car, this one is slower on the straightaways, but a lot faster in the corners. I think it's a great car. I've been really surprised at how smoothly things have gone. They've done a good job. It shows. Overall, I think the series is going to provide some really good racing and good entertainment."

MATT HALLIDAY (Bowes Seal Fast Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I think our times are as quick as anyone else. We started the day with a basic setup. We did a little bit of fine-tuning, but didn't really get to go too much faster than what we started." (About the Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series): "I think it will be a good series, the cars are good. It will just grow and grow and grow, and get better and better in the next few years. The first year will be a bit of a learning curve for the series, but I think early on it's really good."

ROGER BAILEY (Executive Director, Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series): "It was an extremely successful day. I was delighted at the level of preparation and performance we saw today. We had no mechanical problems. I think everything bodes well for a great first race in Kansas. I am extremely excited about the future of the series."

JOHN LEWIS (Director of Operations, Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series): "I thought the day went excellent, actually better than planned. We got a little bit of a slow start, but a lot of guys ran a lot of laps, and the issues we identified in St Louis have been solved. It's been flawless from the green flag. I'd say we have to address one or two more issues, and it's really just nitpicking."

-ips/irl-

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Arie Luyendyk , Sam Schmidt , Tony Renna , Marty Roth , Jason Priestley , Mike Koss , G.J. Mennen , Roger Bailey , Ed Carpenter , Matt Halliday , Arie Luyendyk Jr.