IRL: Chicagoland: Friday notebook

Scheckter leads IndyCar Series practice; Carpenter wins pole for Chicaogland 100. JOLIET, Ill., Friday, Sept. 5, 2003 -- Tomas Scheckter turned the fastest lap of the day during IndyCarTM Series practice at 24.4493 seconds, 223.810 mph in the No.

Scheckter leads IndyCar Series practice; Carpenter wins pole for Chicaogland 100.

JOLIET, Ill., Friday, Sept. 5, 2003 -- Tomas Scheckter turned the fastest lap of the day during IndyCarTM Series practice at 24.4493 seconds, 223.810 mph in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. Richie Hearn was second fastest in the No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone at 24.4820, 223.511.

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During the first IndyCar Series practice session, Greg Ray, driver of the No. 13 TrimSpa Special Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone, made contact with the outside retaining wall in Turn 4. The car slid to a stop at the beginning of the pit road entrance. There was heavy damage to the rear and left side of the car. Ray was uninjured.

Officials from Access Motorsports said they will not participate in this Sunday's Delphi Indy 300. The car was damaged beyond repair and the team does not have a back-up car.

GREG RAY (No. 13 TrimSpa Special Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): (About the accident): "I originally just thought we hit a big bump. It was kind of strange because the car just lifted off the ground. Certainly after listening to what I had to say about the incident, looking at the computer data, and looking at the pieces on the car it appears that one of the clevises on the right rear failed and allowed the rear tire to fold over in the corner, and that's what made the car lift up. That was the sensation that I felt. It looks like there were quite a few people over there in Turn 3 because they all said that they saw something moving around right before it happened and the car scattered some parts about 100 yards before we crashed. It was just a really bad situation. The team's done a great job this year. We've been so close so many times, and we've had to be a little bit conservative. That's just part of racing sometimes, things fail. For us it's just one of those things that, knock on wood, it didn't hurt me a bit, but it's close to a total write off, probably, for the car. If we had a spare car, we'd just hop back in it and keep on going. This definitely stops our train until we're able to get some things arranged to get prepared to go to Fontana. We're working hard. We have a great group of guys, great chemistry and a great foundation of a team here. We're still coming, but this is going to shut us down this weekend."

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Red Bull Cheever Racing officials announced Alex Barron will drive the No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing No. 52 Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone this weekend in the Delphi Indy 300. Barron replaces Buddy Rice, who remains with Red Bull Cheever Racing.

Barron has won two IRL IndyCar Series races in his career, scoring a win in 2002 at Nashville and winning the Firestone Indy 400 in July at Michigan International Speedway. He finished sixth at the Indianapolis 500 in May and finished fifth in the point standings in 2002.

EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (Owner, Red Bull Cheever Racing): "We needed to make a change to get back in the game. Buddy is still under contract with our team, and I consider him an asset. We have a powerful new Chevy engine, and a top-notch pit crew that have been working hard all year. We're moving ahead and preparing for the future as the 2003 season nears an end. This is not a driver being fired; it's a driver being hired. It's a positive step solely designed to get results."

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INDYCAR SERIES POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:

RICHIE HEARN (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "They were pretty confident that they were going to have a good car, and they did. Testing last week really helped us unload off the trailer well, right out of the box. We got to try some things last week that we knew didn't work, so really we've only fine-tuned it a little bit here and there. It makes it easy for me because the car is right on. I'm just doing the job I'm supposed to do, but the car's there to do it. We ended the session a little early. We ran in a big group of cars, and the car is very fast and very consistent. It's never perfect, but you don't want to push your luck. I felt really good about how it is and how it's been. In my mind I know what it's going to do, so I figure we'll just stop there, and we'll worry about qualifying tomorrow."

ED CARPENTER (No. 18 PDM Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It's going real well. We had a really good first session. We ended up 11th overall. The car is really good. We came back out in the second session and made some changes. It was still pretty good, but towards the end of the session I think we digressed a little. I think the set of tires we had on may have changed a little bit. The car just changed, but we're still good. I'm getting a lot of laps. I'm feeling pretty comfortable in traffic. All and all for my first weekend, I don't think it could go much better so far. It's just one of those things where you have to train yourself for the different feel for each car. They're similar cars, but they still have a completely different feel, so, when I get out of one and into the other I just have to switch a switch in my brain that puts me in a different car. It's not bad. I'm use to running different series. It's fun. I'm getting a lot of seat time."

ALEX BARRON (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The Red Bull Cheever Racing Team has worked really hard in such a short amount of time to setup the car, and I'm really happy with the progress we've made. We had a good car in both practice sessions today and just focused on making small adjustments to figure out our best qualifying setup. The Chevrolet engine is running great and we're hoping to have a good qualifying run tomorrow to position ourselves at the front of the grid."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It went pretty well. We're still working on it, working on the race car. We'll see what happens. It's a long time until race day."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "It was a good day. Ninety percent of today I worked on race setups, so I didn't really expect to be on the top of the time sheets. I think that's a little bit the way Chicago is, is that when you're in race trim and when you're in traffic, that's when the times really come. I think it's fine. I think the only difference between today and the test that we had last week is the high line is a lot better today because more people are running on it. I would say that's about it. It's perfect conditions. It's nice and cool, not very windy. I thought maybe I would've had a couple of victories by now, especially the way some of these races have gone. Unfortunately it hasn't happened, but definitely these last three races I'm very, very focused. Me and my engineer seem to be working well together. We're focused on being there on the last lap in front on Sunday, and we're going to try that for the last three races. It's also good because these last three races, I think suit me a little bit more."

KENNY BRACK (No. 15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The car felt pretty good today. We tested here last week, and I think we learned a little bit about this place. It is very fast. This afternoon's practice was good for our team. We have struggled learning these cars, and we are getting more knowledge now. There is more speed left in our car right now. It's still pushing (understeer), and we need to fix that for Saturday. Overall, I think we have a good start for the weekend. Now, we'll just have improve it for qualifying."

FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "I think it was a very good first day. The Hollywood car has been very good since we started out this morning. We concentrated a lot all day about making it a good car in a race-type setup. I think we are very close to where we want to be. Some things we tried worked better in the morning. Some other things we tried worked better in the afternoon. For tomorrow, we will put them all together and see how it works. We will need every bit of speed we can find because the practice times are all so close. Physically and mentally, when I'm in the race car, I don't feel like I'm coming back from an accident at all. When you're running so close to everybody, you really don't have time to think about anything else other than what you're doing. About the only time I feel anything at all is when I'm getting in and out of the car, but I'm getting the hang of it."

TORA TAKAGI (No. 12 Pioneer Toyota/Firestone): (Takagi drove both a Dallara and Panoz G Force chassis today): "We didn't achieve the kind of success we had here in the test last week with our Dallara chassis this morning, so we tried the (Panoz) G Force this afternoon and, obviously, it's the much better car for us on this track. The G Force has a lot less drag, and we were able to put together much more consistent laps. It's definitely the way to go for qualifying. We also need to work very hard to make it a good race car for Sunday, and we are making progress in that area. I feel much better about this weekend after the afternoon practice."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Greg Ray , Richie Hearn , Alex Barron , Buddy Rice , Chip Ganassi , Mo Nunn
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing