IPS: Homestead test report

Busy test helps Infiniti Pro Series drivers tune up for season opener. HOMESTEAD, Fla., Friday, Feb. 21, 2003 -- Sixteen drivers representing nine IRL Infiniti Pro Series teams completed more than 3,000 miles of testing Feb. 19-20 at ...

Busy test helps Infiniti Pro Series drivers tune up for season opener.

HOMESTEAD, Fla., Friday, Feb. 21, 2003 -- Sixteen drivers representing nine IRL Infiniti Pro Series teams completed more than 3,000 miles of testing Feb. 19-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in preparation for the season-opening Miami 100 on March 2.

Infiniti Pro Series veterans Ed Carpenter, Aaron Fike, Cory Witherill, Gary Peterson, Marty Roth, Tom Wood and Arie Luyendyk Jr. were among the many drivers turning laps on the tricky, 1-5 mile South Florida oval.

"The first day of testing for us didn't go so well," said Luyendyk, who finished second in the Infiniti Pro Series championship last season. "The second day, we changed the car completely from the first day and ended up gaining almost a second, so I feel pretty good about the car going into the race. We need to make some more minor changes, and I think we'll be OK."

Said Carpenter, who moves to defending series champion A.J. Foyt Racing this season after finishing third in series points last year: "We had a real productive test. It was my first time at Miami, as it was for the whole team with the Infiniti Pro Series car. It's a really difficult place to race at. It's definitely one of the harder tracks we've been to.

"The car felt really, really good right off the bat, and it allowed me to get comfortable relatively quickly. I felt we were pretty strong, and have a good car to go back to the race with."

For Infiniti Pro Series rookies Paul Dana, Mark Taylor, Thiago Medeiros and Jonathan Urlin, the test was an opportunity to gain valuable experience in their new Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone cars before the first race at Homestead.

"We believe we were among the fastest two or three cars all day on Wednesday," said Dana, who drives for first-year series team Kenn Hardley Racing. "That's following up on Phoenix (Test in the West), where we were quickest all day until the very end. For us to have had two strong tests right out of the box at two tracks where the handling of the car is more of an issue and it's more difficult to drive, we seem to be adapting really well."

Brazilian Medeiros, a former race winner in South American Formula 3, is enthusiastic about his switch to oval racing in the Infiniti Pro Series.

"Racing on an oval is a very different experience for a driver who comes from driving on road courses," said Medeiros, who drives for Genoa Racing. "You're always challenging yourself. It's very fun. I'm enjoying it a lot. With oval racing, you need to be very precise because if you make a mistake, the wall comes fast."

Medeiros, 20, got a taste of the precision that oval racing requires during his second day of testing at Homestead.

"On the last run, we put on new tires," Medeiros said. "I was trying to improve, but the tires were cold. The car was oversteering in Turn 3, but I could control it. The in Turn 4, the car was oversteering more, and I couldn't control the car. I didn't hit the wall, but the feeling is the worst. You're still working, and the wall is arriving, arriving. But after that I did one more run and was faster, so everyone was happy that I wasn't scared after that."

Sam Schmidt Motorsports tested three drivers during the two-day session, with Wood, former IndyCar Series driver Brandon Erwin and Pro Series hopeful Lloyd Mack completing more than 500 total miles.

In addition, open-wheel veterans Tony Ave and Jeff Simmons turned laps in the No. 20 Western Union Speed Team entry for Keith Duesenberg Racing, and USAC standout A.J. Fike tested the No. 25 AFS Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.

The second Infiniti Pro Series season starts March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

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Race tickets: For ticket information for the season-opening Miami 100 at Homestead-Miami, call (305) 230-RACE, visit www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com or any Ticketmaster outlet.

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Series Indy Lights
Drivers Mark Taylor , Cory Witherill , Brandon Erwin , Tony Ave , Sam Schmidt , Marty Roth , Aaron Fike , Gary Peterson , Tom Wood , Jeff Simmons , Paul Dana , Jonathan Urlin , A.J. Fike , A.J. Foyt , Ed Carpenter , Thiago Medeiros , Arie Luyendyk Jr.