INDYCAR SERIES, INDY PRO SERIES WRAP UP OPEN TEST AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY HOMESTEAD, FLA., Thursday, Feb. 28, 2008 -- Danica Patrick made an abbreviated appearance on media day at Homestead-Miami Speedway Feb. 26, didn't turn a lap on the...
INDYCAR SERIES, INDY PRO SERIES WRAP UP OPEN TEST AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY
HOMESTEAD, FLA., Thursday, Feb. 28, 2008 -- Danica Patrick made an abbreviated appearance on media day at Homestead-Miami Speedway Feb. 26, didn't turn a lap on the first day of an IndyCar Series Open Test Feb. 27, then came out feeling less than 100 percent on Feb. 28 but still set the pace on the final day of testing.
Despite feeling ill, Patrick was the quickest of 16 drivers on the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval, recording a best lap of 25.0772 seconds, 213.182 mph.
"I was sicker than I've ever been before on a day when I had to do something," said Patrick. "I was dizzy and my head was full of pressure. I didn't feel balanced - on top of other things. For me, it would have been silly to try and push it and go out there and try and feel the edge at a place like Homestead where the grip and the intensity level is pretty high compared to the rest of the mile-and-a-halfs.
"Today was a good day. It's kind of nice to go out there, skip a day, go out and be quickest. We were definitely struggling with the race car. Until the very end of the day we were really pushing to figure it out. We definitely didn't have it down. At the end of the day, we're all walking away pretty happy. The team did a good job of working in the offseason."
Team Penske newcomer Ryan Briscoe was second-fastest with a best lap of 213.056 mph, while Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Dan Wheldon, who has won the past three 300-mile races at the track, was third-fastest with a lap of 212.980 mph.
Wheldon, who led the first night of testing with a lap at 213.312 mph, will look for his fourth consecutive victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway when the IndyCar Series opens the 2008 season on March 29.
Overall, drivers completed 3,463 laps through the course of two evenings under the lights.
Also on Feb. 28, AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing's Raphael Matos was the quickest driver in Indy Pro Series testing. Twenty drivers completed 2,576 laps in six hours of on-track activity. Matos paced the field with a quick lap of 28.5528 seconds, 187.232 mph. The test was the only pre-season Open Test for the Indy Pro Series, which will open the season March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
OPEN TEST NOTES:
Help wanted: Apex Racing had an interesting sign outside of its garage during the test. The sign read: "2008 Indy Pro Series Ride Available. Inquire within." Team owner/driver Ken Losch, who fields cars for himself and Mike Potekhen, could sit out the season if a sponsored driver is available.
"Ken's got a lot of things going on," Potekhen said referring to Losch's real estate development business in the Phoenix area. "If there's someone out there, he's not going to drive. Of course, that could all change if the team finds a sponsor."
Looking for work: Several drivers who have not secured drives for the 2008 season were at Homestead-Miami Speedway turning some laps for potential teams.
Matt Lee tested for RLR/Andersen Racing, which is looking for a driver to pair with returning driver Andrew Prendeville. Lee finished the day fifth on the speed chart. Indy Pro Series veteran Chris Festa drove for Guthrie Racing, while Arie Luyendyk Jr. was investigating opportunities with Apex Racing.
Crunch: Rookie James Davison missed much of the morning session after making contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2. The Australian driver was not injured, but his car sustained damage to the rear of his Sam Schmidt Motorsports car.
"I was going into Turn 1 and real slowly the rear started to come around on me," Davison said. "There's nothing I felt that I could have done to prevent it. As a result I slid up, went backwards and touched the wall. It's disappointing but I don't feel that there was anything I could have done to prevent it. The rear just came out in a spin."
Rookie Jake Slotten also made contact with the Turn 2 SAFER Barrier, damaging his car enough to end his test session early.
"I entered Turn 1 on the bottom and it just started pushing (up the track)," said Slotten, a veteran of Wisconsin short-track racing."
INDY PRO SERIES QUOTES:
RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 27 AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing, fastest): "Practice doesn't count, but it definitely makes you feel good, and I think it definitely makes the team work even harder. The team is coming along great. I'm working really, really nicely with my engineer Blair (Perschbacher), and all the mechanics are doing such an amazing job. I'm just very happy that we're able to put this great team together. I can't thank AGR and AFS enough for this great support.
"The goals today were to simulate qualifying runs and to run in traffic. I have almost no experience running in traffic on ovals, and we were able to accomplish everything that we were planning on for the test. We were able to do qualifying runs, we were able to run in the middle of traffic quite a bit, especially in the afternoon when the weather was really hot and it's really difficult. I'm very happy."
BOBBY WILSON (No. 17 Team E, second quick): (About accident): "What happened? A rookie driver just trying to keep his foot in it. I was making a pass on the outside and got drove into by the car that was below me. He took out my tire and I got very lucky. I can come away with a smile because we have minimal damage. We know we were fast. The team did a great job. Hats off to the guys at Team E that put in a lot of hours of hard work on the car. I'm really looking forward to the race."
LOGAN GOMEZ (No. 41 Guthrie Racing, third quick): "The day went well. I'm just getting used to being in a car again. I haven't been in a car since Chicago (at the end of last season), so it's getting back into the car and getting used to a new team with Guthrie Racing. It's great to be with them. We're just working a few kinks out of the car. The hardest thing about today is finding someone to run with you. I towed Sean (Guthrie) around and that worked out. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to return the favor because he had some mechanical problems."
SEAN GUTHRIE (No. 4 Guthrie Racing, fourth quick): "It was a short day. We were trying to get (Chris) Festa some time in the car today. We were here for a test about a month ago, so we just went out with the setup we found there. It took a little bit of time to build speed this morning because it was a little cool, but once we got that fast lap, we decided to stop and let Festa get some laps in."
MATT LEE (No. 25 RLR/Andersen Racing, fourth quick): "With the exception of a clutch problem that made us have a bit of late start -- we didn't get on the track until after lunch -- it went really well. It was a productive day. I got my first time mixing it up with the guys in traffic and it felt really nice. The car was good. The engineering staff did a great job with the car." (About possibility of racing in series): "We're working out some last minute sponsorship stuff. Hopefully I will be in the car at Homestead."
INDYCAR SERIES QUOTES:
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske): "It was pretty exciting to run in traffic and just to find my own out there with all the cars. It was a good start. It was a real good test for us at Team Penske. I'm looking forward to getting some more running out there with the guys and learning more at the first race, but we're really happy with how this test went. I was ready to go racing here by the end of the night."
DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "Well it's great to get back in the car obviously, and everybody in the race shop at Target Chip Ganassi has been working hard to make sure we can improve on last season. Judging by the test, it's gone very well. There's some room for improvement, but for our test back into the swing of things, and to be back at Homestead, I think we're in pretty good shape."
The 2008 IndyCar Series season begins under the lights with the GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300 on March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 2008 schedule, one of the most diverse in all of motorsports, features races on ovals, permanent road courses and temporary street circuits, all broadcast worldwide through a comprehensive, long-term agreement with ESPN. All races in 2008 will be telecast in High Definition. The 2008 Indy Pro Series season also begins on March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 16-race schedule, which features eight ovals and four road/street course doubleheader weekends, will be televised by ESPN2.