IRL: Homestead open test notes 2003-02-17

Penske pair dodges raindrops to lead Homestead test. HOMESTEAD, Fla., Monday, Feb. 17, 2003 -- Marlboro Team Penske teammates Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves were the two fastest drivers during the first day of the IRL IndyCar Series Open...

Penske pair dodges raindrops to lead Homestead test.

HOMESTEAD, Fla., Monday, Feb. 17, 2003 -- Marlboro Team Penske teammates Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves were the two fastest drivers during the first day of the IRL IndyCar Series Open Test on Feb. 17 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Two-time CART champion de Ferran led at 26.2440 seconds, 205.761 mph in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone. His top lap was posted in the afternoon session, which was interrupted three times by rain.

"It was a good day for us," de Ferran said. "Unfortunately, it rained a little, but as it turned out, that didn't affect things very much. We had the opportunity to work on both the race setup and the qualifying setup.

"Even though we're fast, I'm still not 100 percent happy yet. We can still improve the car in both qualifying and race configurations. It's nice to see that we have the speed. I am happy about that."

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Castroneves was second at 26.3021, 205.307 in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone. That was his fastest lap from the morning session, which started 70 minutes late due to damp track conditions.

"It has been good," Castroneves said. "We actually went faster than the last time we were here. So that is pretty good, I guess. More cars on the track helps a lot. I'm not quite as comfortable as my teammate, I think. I'm going to come here March 2 and kick everybody's butt, hopefully."

Nineteen drivers turned a total of 1,710 laps on the 1.5-mile oval, which will play host to the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 on March 2. There were no incidents.

Two-time Homestead-Miami CART winner Michael Andretti was third overall at 26.3612, 204.847 in the No. 7 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

"I think if we get the balance right, there's still more to come," Andretti said. "We're pretty happy with the way the test has gone so far. We just adjusting, and we're always experimenting and trying to find out what works and what doesn't."

Rookie Roger Yasukawa was fourth at 26.5158, 203.652 in the No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Scott Dixon rounded out the top five at 26.6015, 202.996 in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone.

Sam Hornish Jr., defending event and IndyCar Series champion, was eighth overall at 26.6530, 202.604 in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.

Testing is scheduled to continue from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (EST) Tuesday.

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Fans welcome at test: Fans are welcome to attend the IndyCar Series Open Test on Feb. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Admission is free. Fans can sit in the Speedway Club level of the grandstands.

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Race tickets: For ticket information for the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami, call (305) 230-RACE, visit www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com or any Ticketmaster outlet.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Scott Dixon , Roger Yasukawa , Chip Ganassi , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing