IPS: Hemelgarn/Johnson Motorsports Indy 100 open test notes

Fike and Witherill turn test laps at Indianapolis. Indianapolis, IN -- Hemelgarn/Johnson Motorsports teammates Aaron Fike and Cory Witherill took part in the one-day open test April 18 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for the ...

Fike and Witherill turn test laps at Indianapolis.

Indianapolis, IN -- Hemelgarn/Johnson Motorsports teammates Aaron Fike and Cory Witherill took part in the one-day open test April 18 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for the inaugural Freedom 100 on May 17.

Fike, a newcomer to the famed 2.5-mile Brickyard, logged 138 laps and recorded a speed of 187.155 mph, the sixth quickest time of the day in the field of 16 drivers.

"It's awesome," said an ecstatic Fike. "I've been wanting to run at this place for a long time. It's kind of exhilarating to know that I get to finally run here."

"My teammate (Cory Witherill) and I have been working together. Cory's been helping me a lot. He's been here before, so I just let him get out in front of me and I follow him around. These cars have always been really good cars, really comfortable to run. The race will definitely be interesting. It's going to be challenging."

The USAC standout from Galesburg, Ill. will drive the No. 91 RFMS/Hemelgarn Racing Infiniti-powered Dallara for the third Infiniti Pro Series event of the 2003 season, the Freedom 100.

Witherill, of Santa Monica, Calif., wasted no time reacquainting himself with the Superspeedway. A veteran of the Indianapolis 500, starting 31st and finishing 19th as a rookie in 2001, Witherill was eighth fast at 186.216 mph after recording 168 laps.

"It's great to get back out there," said Witherill, 31. "It's been a couple of years since I've run around the track. Right from the beginning, I was comfortable in the first five laps. I just want to get a good setup and a good feel for this race. The Hemelgarn team is doing an awesome job here, so we'll get it dialed in."

"It would be great to go out there and win the first one here in the Pro Series. You have to treat this track with more respect than any other track. There are so many different tricks about it. Come the month of May, I'm sure it will be a lot different, because there are going to be a whole bunch of other distractions out there, like the grandstands filled with people."

Navajo Witherill will pilot the No. 92 WSA Healthcare Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone entry.

The event will mark the first time in IMS history that another automobile race will share the famed 2.5-mile oval with the Indianapolis 500 during the month of May.

-h/jm-

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