IRL: Gateway day three test notes

Castroneves speedy on third day of Gateway test. MADISON, Ill., Friday, Aug. 16, 2002 -- Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves was the fastest driver on the third day of Indy Racing League testing Aug. 15 at Gateway International ...

Castroneves speedy on third day of Gateway test.

MADISON, Ill., Friday, Aug. 16, 2002 -- Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves was the fastest driver on the third day of Indy Racing League testing Aug. 15 at Gateway International Raceway.

Castroneves turned a top unofficial lap in the "high 25s" in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, Penske Racing President Tim Cindric said, referring to the high 25-second range. The team finished its testing before noon on the unique, 1.25-mile oval.

The test gave Castroneves -- just four points behind series leader Sam Hornish Jr. -- a good setup from which to work at the Gateway Indy 250 on Aug. 25.

"We had a very good test and are fast in the car," Castroneves said. "But we still have work to do to get ready for the race. But we've got a good start from the time we had."

Raul Boesel was second fastest at 26.2 in the No. 12 Bradley Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. Only Castroneves (high 25-second range Aug. 15), teammate Gil de Ferran (low 26-second range Aug. 14) and Robbie Buhl (26.21 seconds Aug. 14) have turned laps as quickly as Boesel during the first three days of the test.

"We didn't get as many laps in the car as we might have wanted, but it ran well, and we're looking forward to this race," Boesel said.

Alex Barron and Laurent Redon each clocked unofficial top laps of 26.3 seconds. Barron is fifth in the series points in the No. 44 Rayovac Blair Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone and one of seven drivers still eligible for the IRL title and $1-million championship bonus with three races remaining.

"We got a lot of information on different combinations that we might use for this race, and that's the most valuable thing we took away from it," Barron said. "We know we can be competitive."

Redon is second in the race for the Bombardier Rookie of the Year Award in the No. 34 Mi-Jack Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, 14 points behind rookie leader Tomas Scheckter.

"It was an OK start, but we know we can get better, and we'll have a day to work on things," Redon said. "The track was fun to drive. Very challenging. I was glad we tested here and I got some laps in before the race."

Defending series champion Hornish was next at 26.4 in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.

"We ran a lot of runs on full tanks, worked hard on race setups and by getting the two days in we ran here in a variety of different conditions," Hornish said. "You want to come into a race ready for anything you might find, and we did that."

The test also gave Hornish's future teammate, Dan Wheldon, a chance to get more laps. Wheldon will make his Indy Racing League debut in a Panther Racing car in the Delphi Indy 300 on Sept. 8 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Wheldon won an Indy Lights race last year at Gateway, so he's already familiar with the paperclip-shaped track.

"More than anything, today was a good shakedown run for the team and the car," Wheldon said. "We made sure that all the systems were working, so that when we go to Chicago next week, we can spend two days testing to get ready for the race, not to make sure the car works."

Rookies Buddy Rice and Vitor Meira rounded out the test times at 26.6 seconds each.

Meira will make his second IRL start in the No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville/Pittsburgh Paints Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone at Gateway. He finished 15th in his debut Aug. 11 at Kentucky Speedway.

"After my first race at Kentucky, this is so very different," Meira said. "It is short and tight both in the turns and the pits. You'll see a lot of activity and excitement, especially if everyone is pitting on the yellow."

Rice concentrated on finding a good baseline for testing Aug. 16, the final day of the four-day test session at Gateway.

"We got a lot of things sorted out on the car, and we have a very good baseline going into the second day of testing," Rice said. "It was an OK first day, but we know the second day will be much better, and we'll be ready for the race."

Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series standout Ed Carpenter turned a top lap of 33.0 seconds in the No. 2 Menards/Jack K. Elrod Co./Futaba/Delphi Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, preparing for the Gateway 100 on Aug. 25 for the Indy Racing League's new development series. Carpenter has competed at Gateway in a USAC Silver Crown car.

"What I've driven here in the past is so different that I'm glad I came. here in this car and learned how it handled on this oval," Carpenter . said The final day of testing Aug. 16 is not open to the public .

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Tickets: Tickets for the Gateway Indy 250 IRL race and the Gateway 100 Infiniti Pro Series race are available by calling the Gateway International Raceway ticket office at (866) 35-SPEED or online at www.gatewayraceway.com.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Raul Boesel , Alex Barron , Laurent Redon , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Ed Carpenter , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Team Penske