IRL: Greg Ray Fastest in Test; Five Rookies Pass Test

RAY FASTEST IN FIRST DAY OF VETERAN OPEN TEST Five more rookies complete Rookie Orientation Program at Speedway By Paul Kelly INDIANAPOLIS, April 10, 1999 -Greg Ray dominated the speed chart during the first day of the ...

RAY FASTEST IN FIRST DAY OF VETERAN OPEN TEST Five more rookies complete Rookie Orientation Program at Speedway

By Paul Kelly

INDIANAPOLIS, April 10, 1999 -Greg Ray dominated the speed chart during the first day of the Indianapolis 500 Veteran Open Test, recording the fastest speed of 223.914 mph and fourth-fastest speed of 222.239 in Team Menard cars Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "I think you'll see some laps in the 226 (mph) range," Ray said. "I don't know what is in everyone else's dream list or wish list, but that's what we're shooting for." Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Arie Luyendyk was second fastest at 223.176 in the Sprint PCS-Meijer G Force/Aurora/Firestone. Luyendyk is retiring from open-wheel racing after this year's Indianapolis 500, May 30. Scott Sharp was third fastest at 222.502 in the Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear. Luyendyk's teammate, Sam Schmidt, recorded the fifth fastest speed, 221.478, in the Sprint PCS G Force/Aurora/Firestone. Five rookies completed the Rookie Orientation Program on Saturday: Robby McGehee, Nick Firestone, Mike Borkowski, Jaques Lazier and Jeret Schroeder. Nine rookies have completed the ROP this year, as Wim Eyckmans, Dave Steele, Ronnie Johncox and John Hollansworth Jr. passed Thursday. Rookie testing will continue from 9:30 a.m.-noon Sunday. Veterans will test from 12:30-5 p.m. The public is welcome to attend for free, with seating available in the South Terrace near the Hall of Fame Museum. Ray's fastest speed on the 2.5-mile oval came in the primary Glidden-Menards Dallara/Aurora/Firestone. He drove his backup car to the fourth-fastest overall speed. All drivers were forced to cope with east winds blowing steadily at 16 mph. "You can do really fast times around this track in this wind, but you can't fine-tune the car," Luyendyk said. "Since (the wind) is so strong out there, you just have to adjust your line and the way you drive, which can vary on how much the wind blows." Defending Indianapolis 500 champion Eddie Cheever Jr. was at 220.076 in his Team Cheever-The Children's Beverage Group Dallara/Infiniti/Goodyear. It was the first time he tested at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with an Infiniti engine, as he recently switched from the Oldsmobile Aurora powerplant. Cheever was one of seven drivers to break the 220-mph barrier Saturday. The fastest lap by a normally aspirated Pep Boys Indy Racing League car at the Speedway is 224.573 mph by Billy Boat in 1998. Boat won the PPG Pole with a four-lap average of 223.503. Pep Boys Indy Racing League points leader Scott Goodyear was ninth fastest at 219.641 in the Pennzoil Panther G Force/Aurora/Goodyear. Defending league champion Kenny Brack and Boat, teammates with A.J. Foyt Enterprises, only took a few low-speed shakedown laps Saturday. They will run full-speed testing laps Sunday, team manager Tommy LaMance said. *** TESTING NOTEBOOK

Lyn looking for ride: Lyn St. James, six-time participant in the Indianapolis 500, hasn't given up hope of making the field for this year's event May 30. For the first time in eight years, her name is not listed as a driver on an entry. "But I'm not retired," she said. Instead she said she is close to sealing some sponsorship deals that will make her available for Indy and has assurances from several teams that they would be interested in running her. She calls her pursuit of a solid sponsorship "Operation Intervention." "My desire and hunger is stronger than ever," said St. James, the second female ever to drive in the 500. St. James qualified for her first Indy in 1992 and finished 11th, earning Bank One Rookie of the Year honors. In 1994 she qualified sixth fastest at 224.154 mph. Her highest qualifying speed of 225.346 came the next year, but she was eliminated in a six-car accident on the first lap. Her finishes after the initial 11th were 25th, 19th, 32nd, 14th and 13th. Last year she was entered late in an Infiniti-powered car. On her qualifying run, she came up six-tenths of a mph short of making the field. "I'm not in a desperate mode," she said about getting her program together in time for opening of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for practice May 15. Friday night St. James received one of the "Spirit of the Prairie" Awards at a ceremony in downtown Indianapolis. Among other recipients was former basketball great Oscar Robertson. Next weekend St. James will be at Road Atlanta to kick off the inaugural season of the Women's Global GT Series. She is executive director of the league. The 32-woman field will drive Ford-powered Panoz Esperante GT cars. "Then I'll be back in Indianapolis," she said. "On opening day I want to be able to run."

Harrington hires veteran crew chief: Harrington Motorsports hired veteran Darrell Soppe as its full-time engineer and crew chief, team officials said today. Soppe worked with the team as a consultant for the last two months. He helped guide driver Scott Harrington to a career-best fifth-place finish in the MCI WorldCom 200 on March 28 at Phoenix. Soppe, 48, has served as a mechanic and crew chief for some of the top teams in Indy-style racing during the last 25 years. He was crew chief for driver Stephan Gregoire and Chastain Motorsports during the 1996-97 and 1998 Pep Boys Indy Racing League seasons.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby McGehee , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Stephan Gregoire , Scott Sharp , Arie Luyendyk , Billy Boat , Scott Goodyear , Jaques Lazier  , Kenny Brack , Sam Schmidt , Lyn St. James , Dave Steele , Scott Harrington , Ronnie Johncox , Mike Borkowski , Paul Kelly , A.J. Foyt