IRL: Foyt drivers fastest in Indy practice day nine

INDIANAPOLIS (May 15, 2002) - Practice resumed for the 86th Indianapolis 500 today with teams taking to the track, each with very different goals. Drivers yet to qualify are still looking for speed while those safely in the field work on...

INDIANAPOLIS (May 15, 2002) - Practice resumed for the 86th Indianapolis 500 today with teams taking to the track, each with very different goals. Drivers yet to qualify are still looking for speed while those safely in the field work on developing a comfortable car for race day. A third group of drivers are either shaking down spare cars for another driver or posting fast speeds in hopes of attracting a potential buyer.

Not surprisingly, A.J. Foyt's two drivers, neither of which have qualified yet, sat atop the day's speed charts.

Airton Dare was quickest on the day, posting a lap at 228.628 mph.

Foyt's other driver, Greg Ray was second fastest on the day with a lap at 227.909 mph. "We've gone all over the gamut as far as setups, and the car was very comfortable," said Ray. "When we did our 227.7 mph, I kind of pinpointed that we could do a 28.5, and at the end of the day that's what Airton did."

Mo Nunn teammates Tony Kanaan and Felipe Giaffone were third and fourth, respectively, with Kanaan driving Giaffone's backup car. Rumors have circulated that Mo Nunn might make his third car available after both his drivers were safely in the field.

Sam Hornish, fifth on the day at 227.163 mph, said he was working on a race setup. "We had a good day today. We learned a few things. We're just trying to make the car work a little better in traffic without giving up any speed."

Despite what Hornish said, race speeds should be in the 222-223 mph range.

"The pace is a lot faster than I thought it was going to be on full tanks," said 1998 Indy 500 winner Eddie Cheever.

Cheever spent the day fine tuning his backup car, leaving his race car safely tucked away in the garage. ""I wish we were racing tomorrow," said Cheever, eighth fastest on the day. "This is the part of the month I enjoy the most. I enjoy trying to figure out how to make the car last for an entire full-tank session by spreading out the goodness of the tires. We are going through a detailed process of making small adjustments every three or four laps to get the most out of the car."

Shigeaki Hattori was third fastest of the non-qualified drivers today, sixth fastest overall. Hattori made a huge improvement over his previous best, lapping the Speedway at 227.120 mph. His previous best was set in the backup car on May 8th at 221.084 mph.

"We made big gain today with the car," said Hattori. Last week we didn't get a lot of track time because of the rain and some car problems. Now that we have a good baseline setup, I feel we're in a good position to qualify Sunday for the race."

Notes from the 86th Indianapolis 500:

Robby McGehee, who was involved in an accident on Opening Day, has been cleared to drive by Dr. Henry Bock, the Speedway's medical director. McGehee's accident was the first test of the new SAFER barrier. The initial impact of McGehee's contact with the barrier was recorded at 40 Gs, less than half that normally experienced in similar accidents.

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Jeff Ward turned laps in the No. 30 of George Mack, trying to help the team develop a qualifying setup.

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Donnie Beechler made his first on track appearance of 2002 driving the No. 14T from A.J. Foyt Racing. Beechler's best of the day was 224.166 mph.

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The following drivers have passed their physical examination and are at the Speedway in case their services are needed: Didier Andre, Memo Gidley, Stephan Gregoire, Roberto Guerrero, J.J. Yeley, Scott Harrington, Steve Knapp, Roberto Moreno, Jeret Schroeder and Johnny Unser.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby McGehee , Greg Ray , Felipe Giaffone , Eddie Cheever , Shigeaki Hattori , Stephan Gregoire , Jeff Ward , Didier André , Airton Daré , Memo Gidley , Jeret Schroeder , Roberto Guerrero , Donnie Beechler , Roberto Moreno , Tony Kanaan , George Mack , J.J. Yeley , Scott Harrington , Johnny Unser , A.J. Foyt , Mo Nunn , Sam Hornis