IndyCar Series Teams Conclude Two-Day Road-Course Test at Homestead HOMESTEAD, Fla., Thursday, Sept. 23, 2004 -- IRL IndyCarÂ® Series road-course testing concluded at Homestead-Miami Speedway with two-time series champion Sam Hornish Jr. and ...
IndyCar Series Teams Conclude Two-Day Road-Course Test at Homestead
HOMESTEAD, Fla., Thursday, Sept. 23, 2004 -- IRL IndyCar® Series road-course testing concluded at Homestead-Miami Speedway with two-time series champion Sam Hornish Jr. and rookie Ed Carpenter turning their first laps on the 2.21-mile circuit.
Hornish replaced his Marlboro Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves, who tested at the track on Sept. 22, and recorded 67 laps in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone.
"It's been a while since I've done the right-left thing," Hornish said. "I'm just getting in the swing of things and knocking off all the cobwebs. I'm trying to get comfortable with all the shifting, the braking points and what not. A lot of guys are running both days, but (teammate) Helio (Castroneves) and I have both been off of road courses for a while, so the team thought it would be a good idea for us to both run. Right now, I'm trying to get all my rhythm right. I guess the rest will come."
Carpenter replaced Barron in the No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone following the lunch break and recorded 70 laps. Carpenter's previous road-racing experience came in shifter karts and a 10-lap Toyota Atlantic run at Sebring several years ago.
"It was cool. I've been waiting for this for a long time," Carpenter said. "Alex drove yesterday and most of today, and he ran some really quick times. He gave me a really good car to start out in. We did everything we wanted to do for the league. We did all of our brake stuff. I had a lot fun in the half-day that I ran, and I can't wait to test somewhere else now."
Drivers returning for a second day of testing at Homestead were: Dario Franchitti (Andretti Green Racing), Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing), Buddy Rice (Rahal Letterman Racing).
Each driver and team participating in the test is aiding IRL officials in determining parts for a road-course racing package. Among the elements the group is testing are the cooling system, brakes, and transmissions.
"We didn't do many laps yesterday, so the first 15 laps really gave us a direction which we translated into a setup overnight," Franchitti said. "It's running well. I'm pleasantly surprised with the way everything is reacting. The car is a lot of fun to drive. The engine, for an engine that's built to run on ovals, it's pretty good. We're still trying stuff for the IRL, still trying different brake packages and stuff, and again we're getting positive results with that. Overall, we're very happy and having a good time."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone): (About driving an IndyCar Series car on a road course): "Things are working pretty good right now. I've never driven an open-wheel car of this size on a road course. It's all new to me. These other guys have had experience driving CART cars and what not. It's taken a little time to get used to driving a little heavier car on a road course." (About how IndyCar Series cars will race on road courses): "I think we're going to have competitive races. It's hard to tell with five guys out there, and everyone is running different stuff, so you don't know what to expect (next year.)"
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Co-owner, Andretti Green Racing): "It's been real good. The cars have responded even better than we had hoped. So far so good." (About racing on road courses in 2005): "It was a must for open-wheel racing, and I think it's the first step in getting us back to where we used to be. We were excited as a team, and I know as a series, I think everybody is excited."
ALEX BARRON (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "The weather was quite good, so we ran through a lot of things setup-wise. We were working with the guys from Chevrolet quite a bit, and we were happy with the results. We tried some things for Firestone, and after running in the rain quite a bit yesterday, we set some pretty good lap times. It was quite fun. I'm glad to say to we're going to run road courses next year. It will bring a little more variety into the series with the different kinds of ovals we run, and maybe bring in some new fans."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "We had a lot of rain on the first day, so we didn't bother to run much, just because of no spares. We made a lot of gains, but I think Dario's (Franchitti) thing there with the Honda-Dallara looks pretty fast, so we've got a lot of work to come. We know in which areas where to go, but it was good to give the team a baseline. They did a pretty terrific job to have no problems right off the bat. We'll just go back and look at all our data and see where we need to improve."
BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Pioneer/Argent Mortgage Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "I think everything is good. Most people were kind of surprised how good the cars were, but they're still race cars. Panoz G Force and Dallara have built cars to do all kinds of stuff, so I think they knew what they had to do, what they had to make in mind, so everything is good. We're happy with the way everything went here at the test. Most all of us have road racing backgrounds, so for us to be able to go and do that, it's always fun to be able to get back there and get after it again."
The 2004 IRL IndyCar Series season continues with the Toyota Indy 400 at 3 p.m. (EDT) on Oct. 3 at California Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN and the IMS Radio Network. The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series event is the California 100 at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) on Oct. 2 at California Speedway. The race will be broadcast by ESPN2 at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on Oct. 7.