Chevy debuts new engine with top 10 finish. HOMESTEAD, Fla., March 2, 2003 - On a scorching day in south Florida, Chevrolet's new 2003 Chevy Indy V8 engine scored a top 10 finish in its competition debut at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Reigning IRL...
Chevy debuts new engine with top 10 finish.
HOMESTEAD, Fla., March 2, 2003 - On a scorching day in south Florida, Chevrolet's new 2003 Chevy Indy V8 engine scored a top 10 finish in its competition debut at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Reigning IRL champion Sam Hornish Jr. was the top Chevy finisher in tenth place on the 1.5-mile oval. Sarah Fisher was 15th and Buddy Rice 16th. Accidents eliminated Chevy drivers Robbie Buhl (19th) and Jaques Lazier (20th); neither driver was injured.
"There were a few times I wasn't sure I'd bring it home with all four wheels on it," said Hornish. "The track was real slick, and I don't really know why it changed so much between the morning warm-up and the race, but it did. We made changes to adjust for the weather, but fought a loose car all day long. I decided to pit, and we lost two laps. The Chevy engine got us to the finish, but the result isn't what we were looking for - but we'll get there."
Chevrolet engines had a perfect reliability record at Homestead, completing a total of 819 laps.
"We're pleased but not satisfied with a Top 10 finish today," said Joe Negri, GM Racing IRL program manager. "The Chevrolet engine reliability was excellent, but the track was very difficult and the teams struggled with it. We had hoped for a significantly better finish, but we'll continue to work hard and be better at Phoenix."
CHEVY DRIVER QUOTES:
Sarah Fisher, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/WeGotGear Chevrolet Dallara, finished 15th:
"I don't think I've ever worked that hard mentally in a race car. It was pushing one minute and loose the next minute, so it was very difficult. We got the car close at the end of the race where I could charge on Dario (Franchitti), but we just didn't have enough car to get off the corner and get by him.
At the start of the race my car was very loose, and I fell back quite a bit. We recovered from that to wind up where we finished. It was very tough, so to bring it home and prevail through all that, everyone on the team did a great job."
Buddy Rice, Red Bull Cheever Racing Chevrolet Dallara, finished 16th:
"It was a learning experience. We've got to keep working on our full-tank runs. For us to get a full race and get all the information we did is very valuable as we go through the season, especially with how tricky this track is. We had excellent pit stops. The Red Bull Cheever crew did a really good job. We've just got to work a little bit harder on our race setup. The car was really loose in traffic. I also lost a gear so that was a challenge as well. We'll get ready for Phoenix now. For me it's the first race at home in an open-wheel car since 1997. I am quite excited about racing in the IndyCar Series in my home town of Phoenix."
Robbie Buhl, Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Chevrolet Dallara, finished 19th (accident):
"Our plan was to be around at the end today. That didn't happen, but it wasn't because we weren't trying. We were trying to make up some ground on fresher tires and get more out of our race car. We'd been a little loose there all day, but we're making pretty good progress. We've still got a lot to learn about our car, with the new package, but on the high side, our pit stops were good and we were really pleased with the tire wear we had."
Jaques Lazier, Menards/Johns Manville Chevrolet Dallara, finished 20th (accident):
"The car was really loose. Someone drove under me. It was a good, clean pass but with the way my car was, it twitched one time. I caught it but by that time I was in the marbles. I was waiting for the car to turn, but it wouldn't turn. I just barely hit the wall. I feel really bad for the Menards/Johns Manville team. We have been working hard all weekend. We'll be ready for Phoenix. We have some work to do, but we'll be ready. Physically I feel fine, I'm just upset."
March 23, 2003, Purex Dial Indy 200, Phoenix International Raceway, Phoenix TV: ABC, 3:30 p.m. EST