CHAMPCAR/CART: American Spirit Sebring Spring Training notes 2003-02-06

'Total team effort' boosts American Spirit Team Johansson. SEBRING, Fla.-A total team effort from the drivers, crew and organization of American Spirit Team Johansson got the operation off to a good start in Spring Training this week for the...

'Total team effort' boosts American Spirit Team Johansson.

SEBRING, Fla.-A total team effort from the drivers, crew and organization of American Spirit Team Johansson got the operation off to a good start in Spring Training this week for the 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

In three days of testing at the famed Sebring International Raceway, Jimmy Vasser and rookie teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay logged the first laps for American Spirit Team Johansson in the ASTJ Ford-Cosworth/Reynards and improved on each day of running.

When the final session ended Thursday afternoon, Vasser and Hunter-Reay were ninth and 11th fastest, respectively. Vasser, the 1996 CART Champion, was second fastest in his final session with his best time of the week, a lap at 51.336 seconds, good for an average speed of 117.041 miles per hour around the 1.669-mile course. Hunter-Reay closed out his successful three- day test with his best lap of 51.495 seconds (116.679 mph).

Both drivers were within one second of the fastest overall time of the week, set by Sebastien Bourdais at 50.584 seconds (118.781 mph) and even closer to last season's runner-up Bruno Junqueira, who was second fastest at 50.804 seconds (118.286 mph).

It was a very impressive performance, considering the fact that the team is slightly more than one month old and both drivers were making their first on-track appearance for the team.

Owner Stefan Johansson was understandably pleased.

"This is a very, very satisfying start," Johansson said. "When you consider where we were even one week ago, it's an incredible effort for the entire team. It embodies the meaning of the term, 'team effort.' The crew members not only got the cars together, but we were able to do a lot of laps and get a lot of work done in three day's time. Our drivers went faster every day. Now we're all looking forward to doing our homework and going racing in a couple of weeks."

"This was a great test," added Vasser. "You normally have a lot of problems in your first test of the year, but we didn't have any serious problems. I think it's great that we got to run as much as we did."

Hunter-Reay, whose only previous drive in a Champ Car came during a Cosworth test in November, finished with a flourish.

"We made a lot of progress today," Hunter-Reay said. "Each day, we got better and better. In the last session, we got everything going. Both of our team cars ended up close together so that's a good indication of where we are. I'd like to commend the team for getting the cars ready and running so consistently. Everybody came together on this."

-astj-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Stefan Johansson , Bruno Junqueira , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Sébastien Bourdais