Toyota Atlantic Testing Underway at Firebird International Raceway CHANDLER, Ariz. (March 9, 2004) - After a whirlwind tour through Long Beach for "Season Premiere," 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama competitors took to the...
Toyota Atlantic Testing Underway at Firebird International Raceway
CHANDLER, Ariz. (March 9, 2004) - After a whirlwind tour through Long Beach for "Season Premiere," 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama competitors took to the track at Firebird International Raceway today for the first of two days of preseason preparations on the 1.2-mile East circuit.
A total of nine cars turned laps during the incident-free session, and drivers participating were Sierra Sierra Enterprises teammates Ryan Dalziel and Andrew Ranger, Transnet Racing's Alex Garcia, Danish rookie Ronnie Bremer, Lynx Racing driver Bryan Sellers, the Team Rahal duo of Danica Patrick and Chris Festa, and the Pacific Coast Motorsports pairing of Alex Figge and 2002 Toyota Atlantic champion Jon Fogarty.
Under what the locals describe as "unseasonably warm" conditions (Yokohama Tire engineers reported the ambient temperature of 97.2 degrees Fahrenheit and a track temperature of 113.7), Ranger clocked the unofficial quickest time of the day at 52.4 seconds after putting on "sticker" tires just prior to the lunch break. Dalziel and Sellers were second-quickest, turning in best laps at 52.7 sec. each, followed by Fogarty at 53.1 sec., Patrick and Figge at 53.5 sec., Garcia at 53.6 sec., and Bremer at 53.3 sec. No time was reported for Festa, although the rookie turned several laps throughout the day. All times are unofficial.
In addition to testing, all of the drivers had head and car shots taken, and those photos will be released to the media shortly. Testing at Firebird continues on Wednesday.
Quotes from several drivers follow below:
* ANDREW RANGER: "I had a great day today. I was a little rusty this morning, because I hadn't been in a race car in a while. In the winter, I race motorcycles, so I had to re-adapt myself to the car again. After a few laps, I got comfortable and starting putting out quick times. The team gave me a great car, so I was able to perform really well. I've got bruises here and there, but I had a lot of fun out there today."
* RYAN DALZIEL: "We had an excellent day. It's our first test of the season, and I think we got through a fair amount of stuff. I think all day we were consistently the quickest car on the track, and we got through a lot of productive stuff that we wanted to work on last year and didn't have time. It's been a good day and we'll build on it the rest of the week. The heat just effects the cars. You have four or five hours in the middle of the day where it's kind of too warm to productively ramp anything up, but between four and five in the afternoon and between nine and 11 in the morning you can shoot for a time. It's kind of frustrating, but that's why it's racing."
* ALEX FIGGE: "It was pretty good. We ran into a lot of mechanical problems from about 11 o'clock on, and we just got them sorted out at the end of the day. I think we have a good place to start for tomorrow."
* JON FOGARTY: "It was good. It was certainly warmer than anything we've experienced thus far this year, so we had to accommodate that in a lot of different ways. But I feel good physically, and we're ending the day on a positive note and we have quite a few days up in front of us. We're looking forward to carrying it into tomorrow and the next couple of days after that."
* BRYAN SELLERS: "I think it was a good day today. We started out kind of rough, but I think we made big progressions with the car. Today is actually the first day in testing where we've made big gains with the car, and I think we're getting closer. Hopefully, tomorrow we'll make the same gains."