Rice leads oval testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway HOMESTEAD, Fla., Saturday, Jan. 22, 2005 -- Defending Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice topped the speed chart on the final day of the IRL IndyCarÂ® Series Open Test at Homestead-Miami ...
Rice leads oval testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway
HOMESTEAD, Fla., Saturday, Jan. 22, 2005 -- Defending Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice topped the speed chart on the final day of the IRL IndyCar® Series Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Rice, who claimed the MBNA Pole Award for the 2004 Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, recorded a lap of 24.9165 seconds, 214.539 mph, in his No. 15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Honda-powered Panoz.
Scott Sharp posted the second-fastest lap of the day in the No. 8 Delphi Panoz/Honda/Firestone at 24.9528 seconds, 214.244 mph. Dan Wheldon was third-fastest in the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone with a lap of 24.9814 seconds, 213.998 mph.
Twenty car/driver combinations turned 3,099 incident-free laps on the variably banked 1.5-mile oval before rain ended the session early.
The next Indy Racing League event is an Open Test at Phoenix International Raceway on Feb. 8-10. The Menards Infiniti Pro Series will test on the 1-mile oval on Feb. 8. The IndyCar Series will test on Feb. 9-10.
BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "I wasn't surprised by the car's performance. We were on the pole here last year, but we have a new engineer in Tim Reiter on my team. Tim is very experienced and has been the technical director for the team for several years. I like working with him. We were able to go through a lot of things on the chassis and setups. I'm pleased with today's running and I know we learned a lot about the new Panoz. It feels good. We have some work to do on the road course settings, but I'm anxious to get to Phoenix to test the short-oval chassis. We were good on the 1.5-mile to 2.5-mile ovals last year, but I want to get that kind of confidence in our short-oval setup too. It feels good to start the year with a solid program and knowing that we'll have the proper backing and equipment to chase the championship. Last year, I wasn't sure how long I would drive with Kenny's injuries, and now with the long-term contract, I am excited."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "It was fun. We had a good day. I knew getting back on the oval that this kind of car would be strong. I got comfortable right away and we worked through some setup issues and saved some tires for the end there. In traffic, we could go wherever we want. It's just a testament to Fernandez team."
DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I thought the Klein Tools/Jim Beam car was pretty good today. This race will be won in traffic, so we worked a lot in those conditions. We definitely have to keep working. I enjoyed driving on the road course and the oval here at Homestead. We just need to find a little bit more speed, but overall it was a very productive test."
KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic/ARTA Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "The car in the morning was good, but in the afternoon, I think we had engine trouble. My teammate Scott (Sharp) did very good and both cars are in the top five, so I think it's a good sign for the first race. I think we have a good chance here."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 16 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "I knew it was going to be fast on the oval. We have a fast car. I am inexperienced at running in the pack and with pit stops. That will hold us back right now. The day went really well for our crew. I wanted to get up to speed and learn the different grooves. I know I have a lot to learn with the IndyCar (Series car), but Rahal Letterman team is a great organization and work well together. On the oval, a half tenth of a second is a lot in this series, and then you get into traffic and lose a second or two. It is a rhythm thing a lot of time. Overall, it was a very good start for me with the team. I have been with the operation for several years and that helps me in knowing the crews. Now, we will go back to the shop and look over all of the data. Then we'll get ready for the test in Phoenix. I hope the next test goes as well as today."
The IRL IndyCar Series opens its 10th season of competition with the Toyota Indy 300 at 2 p.m. (EST) on March 6, 2005 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be televised live on ESPN and the IMS Radio Network. The 2005 Menards Infiniti Pro Series season also opens on March 6 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be televised by ESPN2 at 4 p.m. (EST) on March 17.