WHELDON LEADS FINAL DAY OF INDYCAR SERIES TESTING HOMESTEAD, Fla., Sunday, March 5, 2006 -- Dan Wheldon saved his best laps for the end of Open Testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 2005 IRL IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 winner led...
WHELDON LEADS FINAL DAY OF INDYCAR SERIES TESTING
HOMESTEAD, Fla., Sunday, March 5, 2006 -- Dan Wheldon saved his best laps for the end of Open Testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The 2005 IRL IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 winner led the only oval day for IRL IndyCar® Series teams posting a lap of 24.5088 seconds, 218.126 mph, on the 1.5-mile oval with less than hour remaining in the afternoon session. Wheldon's lap beat Buddy Rice's track record of 24.5920 seconds, 217.388 mph (Feb. 28, 2004).
"I think everyone at Target Chip Ganassi Racing has worked very hard over these past four days trying to get us a good road course car for this year and a good oval car," Wheldon said. "We certainly, and for me personally, have a little bit of work to do on the road course car. The oval car seems very good. It's obviously fast. I'm always impressed with Honda even though it's a one-make series now. They still do everything right and take care of everything that needs taking care of. I think we're in OK shape. We'll have to wait and see. We're obviously fast. It's going to be tough this year. It's going to be a fight. There's no doubt about it."
Wheldon was slightly faster than 2003 IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon who posted the second-fastest lap, 24.6150, 217.185 mph, in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone.
Sam Hornish Jr. (216.882 mph), Helio Castroneves (216.652 mph), Tony Kanaan (215.469 mph), Ed Carpenter (215.416 mph) and Buddy Rice (215.196) joined the Target Chip Ganassi duo in bettering Tomas Scheckter's 2005 pole speed of 215.115 mph.
IndyCar Series teams return to test the variably banked 1.5-mile oval on March 24 to begin preparations for the Toyota Indy 300. The IRL Indy Pro Series^Ù will conduct a test on the oval on March 6.
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Honda/Firestone, second fastest): "It was a good day. I think the team in general got through what they needed to get through. I think at the end it was more about tows, so the speed doesn't say much. I think we were more comfortable at those speeds than some others. Some people pulled out some big laps. All in all, I'm pretty happy. Its nice to have some power and be consistently at the top."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, third fastest): "Pretty uneventful, but for the most part it went really well. We made some adjustments throughout the day that helped. The Penske team did really well and we are looking forward to the season to start."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fourth fastest): "The day went really well. The Penske team ran up front for the most part. I felt very comfortable out there." (You ran up front for the most part of this test, how is your confidence going into the start of the season?): "I'm very confident, I don't want to jinks it but I feel really good and I'm ready for the season to start."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fifth-quickest): "We're a little bit behind on our qualifying runs, but we had a long run this afternoon and I was pretty pleased with the race car that I had. What really matters is the race, and I think last year we proved we can pass people coming from the back of the pack, which we started most of the time on the ovals. I'd like to improve our position for sure. We have two more weeks to back home and make some improvements, but we have a good race car and I'm looking forward to the race."
*** The IRL IndyCar Series opens the 2006 season with the Toyota Indy 300 at 3:30 p.m. (EST) on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ABC Sports and the IMS Radio Network. The IMS Radio Network broadcast is also carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com. The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition opens with the Miami 100 at 12:30 p.m. on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be telecast at 1 p.m. on March 31 by ESPN2.