Andretti Green Racing Begins Preparations For Indianapolis 500 With Open Test at IMS SPEEDWAY, Ind. (April 29, 2004) - Hoping to capitalize on the momentum of back-to- back wins in the Indy Racing LeagueÂ® (IRL) IndyCarÂ® Series, Andretti Green...
Andretti Green Racing Begins Preparations For Indianapolis 500 With Open Test at IMS
SPEEDWAY, Ind. (April 29, 2004) - Hoping to capitalize on the momentum of back-to- back wins in the Indy Racing League® (IRL) IndyCar® Series, Andretti Green Racing® (AGR) officially started preparing for the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 by having three of its four drivers participate in the IRL Open Test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Dario Franchitti, Bryan Herta and Dan Wheldon all turned laps on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis oval Wednesday and Thursday, logging a two-day total of 847.5 miles of practice in windy conditions with temperatures in the mid-70s. This week's test was the first full-scale "open" test to utilize the newly-mandated 3.0-liter engine, which makes its race debut with the "500." The IndyCar Series utilized a 3.5-liter engine during the first three events of the 2004 season.
Wheldon, who claimed his first career IndyCar Series victory at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan on April 17 behind the wheel of the #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone, continued to impress at Indianapolis by leading the way for AGR. Wheldon turned the quickest laps among the three Andretti Green drivers both days, highlighted by a lap of 218.953 miles per hour (41.1047 seconds) during Thursday's test session, which ranked fifth on the speed chart.
Herta, who is hoping to make his first Indy 500 start since 1995 in the #7 XM Satellite Radio entry, compiled a total of 129 laps during the two-day test, posting a top speed of 216.217 miles per hour (41.6248 seconds) on day two. Herta's speed placed him 17th among the 26 drivers that participated on Thursday.
Franchitti, who made his only "500" start in 2002, turned a total of 108 laps at IMS over the course of both days, topping out at 215.652 miles per hour (41.7340 seconds) on Thursday, good enough for 19th fastest on the day. Franchitti's first day of testing was cut short after he made contact with the outside retaining wall in Turn 2 and damaged his ArcaEx machine. Franchitti's ArcaEx team was able to repair to the car and returned it to action Thursday morning.
Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan, who finished third in last year's Indy 500 and won the second race of the IndyCar Series season at Phoenix on March 21, did not participate in this week's test.
Sam Hornish Jr. paced the testing session with a lap at 220.113 miles per hour. His teammate Helio Castroneves also cracked the 220 miles per hour barrier with a lap at 220.075. Scot Dixon was third quickest over the two days with a best speed of 219.985 miles per hour.
Practice for this year's Indianapolis 500 opens on May 9 with pole qualifications slated for May 15. The annual 500-mile event, which is Round 4 of the 2004 IndyCar Series schedule, will be held May 30.
Kyle Moyer, General Manager, Andretti Green Racing:
"I think it was a really good test for Andretti Green Racing. We got accomplished what we wanted to in two days and we know what we need. Things will probably change a bunch in the time before we come back. Dan being up near the top is nice to see and the other two guys are up to speed with even better cars, so I think all-in-all it was a really good test for the whole team."
Dario Franchitti, #27 Archipelago Exchange (ArcaEx) Dallara/Honda/Firestone:
"It has been a frustrating couple of days, getting to know the speedway again. We got some work done with the Archipelago Exchange (ArcaEx) car, but I'm glad we have a couple of weeks in May to get it better. We are slowly getting there with the car, but we still are battling some issues. The weather really isn't a factor. it is the same for everyone out there and we just have to work around it."
Bryan Herta, #7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone:
"It was a good two days for the XM Satellite Radio team. We worked on our race car and race settings mostly and we have a comfortable car right now. It is going to give us a good starting point for the month of May, but we still have a lot of work to do as does everyone else. I didn't have a very good test when I was here for the first 3.0-liter test (April 3), so we kind of went back to basics to start here."
Dan Wheldon, #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone:
"It has been a good couple of days for the Klein Tools/Jim Beam team. I think it is important not to lose focus of the big picture here. We have to make sure we have a good baseline for when we qualify and when we race. We are working more on a qualifying balance rather than a qualifying setup. And, that's coming along nicely. The main thing we have done over the last two days is answered some questions about things we can try in May and things we cannot. We have distinguished between the two, which is very positive."
- AGR -