IRL: Homestead road course open test, day one report

Rookie Briscoe Tops Speed Chart at Homestead Test INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2005 --Rookie Ryan Briscoe saved his best lap for last on the opening day of the IRL IndyCar® Series Open Test on Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 23-year-old ...

Rookie Briscoe Tops Speed Chart at Homestead Test

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2005 --Rookie Ryan Briscoe saved his best lap for last on the opening day of the IRL IndyCar® Series Open Test on Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The 23-year-old Australian, who was officially introduced as a Chip Ganassi Racing driver on Jan. 17, topped the speed chart in his No. 33 Toyota-powered Panoz with a lap of 1 minute, 10.4423 seconds, 112.944 mph, on the 2.21-mile road course.

Defending IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan was second fastest at 1:10.8136, 112.351 mph, in his No. 11 Honda-powered Dallara. Kanaan's Andretti Green Racing teammate, Dario Franchitti was third with a lap of 1:10.9647 in the No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

Rice, Castroneves To Participate In IROC: 2004 Indianapolis 500 champion Buddy Rice and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves will represent the IndyCar Series in the Crown Royal International Race of Champions.

"It's going to be exciting. It will definitely be something different, and I'm looking forward to the experience," Rice said. "I drove a Craftsman Truck late in 2003, and to drive something similar to a (Nextel) Cup car or a Busch car will be exciting. To be running with all those guys on those tracks is a bonus. The (24 Hours of) Daytona is one of those deals where guys from a bunch of series can get together and race, and this is the same deal only we get to do it four times."

The Crown Royal IROC features 12 drivers from various racing disciplines in identically prepared stock cars. The series will race at Daytona International Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Richmond International Raceway and Atlanta Motor Speedway.

"I was very happy to be called again," Castroneves said. "It was a good year that we had last year and we finished fourth, so I know they give priority to the other ones. I'm just so excited to again go back.

"The environment is again going to be difficult. It's my fourth year, so I know I have to do better because I have no excuses now. I'm just really, really pumped to start the first race at Daytona. But most of all, I'm just very honored to be among the champions."

Sharp, Delphi Join Fernandez Racing: Delphi Corporation will continue its long-running involvement in the IndyCar Series with a new primary sponsorship agreement with Fernandez Racing.

Veteran driver Scott Sharp, the 1996 IndyCar Series co-champion, will drive the No. 8 Delphi Panoz/Honda/Firestone. Futaba, AT&T and Bryant Heating and Cooling Systems will serve as major associate sponsors.

"I'm ecstatic about the opportunity. It's been a long time since I've been on a road course in an Indy-(style) car, and I've never driven a Panoz," Sharp said. "Obviously, I've never driven a Honda. And I'm working with a brand new team. It's a lot to get used to, but that's why we have a few days down here. It's just a dream come true to be involved in a team like this. It's really special to be able to continue with Delphi and Futaba for my eighth season. The fact that we were able to move together to hopefully a much more competitive and stronger situation is just great."

POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 33 Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone): "We're off to a great start. We had a lot of preparation back in Indianapolis, going through what we needed to run today, and I'm feeling comfortable in the car. It's a good track to be driving around. It seems like the speed is there, so we'll keep going."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I'm very happy to be back in the car. With this being the first day of the test, most of your time is spent trying to get comfortable with the placement of the pedals and the car in general. Team 7-Eleven has a good car. We had the basic first-day troubles, but nothing serious. I didn't get to run as many laps as I would have liked, but if I'd had my way I would have run all day."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The cars are very fun to drive; I mean the brakes are phenomenal. I drove a sports car about a week ago and the brakes are about a million times better than that. So, for me it was very enjoyable to be back in the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam car. I haven't been in the car since Texas and it's fantastic to be back. The boys (at the shop) have had a long winter and are very excited to be getting back to testing. They did an excellent job of getting everything sorted out for this test. We're under a little bit of transition because we've lost somebody that I respect very highly in Tony Cotman, but Eddie Jones has done a great job stepping in for him in an interim basis. I had a lot of fun, but I'm still learning. This is my first time in an IndyCar (Series) on a road course, so I still have stuff to learn, but it was a good day."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The car feels a bit different today (then it did the last time I was here.) We tried a couple of different things today on the car, a couple of which aren't much to my liking. I think Firestone has changed a few things as well, so we've had to change the car a bit to get the car close to a better setup. We're got better and better as the day went on. We're making progress. It's good to be back on a road course and have some competition. The main purpose of the next couple of days is to find out what the car does and how to make it faster."

DARREN MANNING (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone): "We've been focusing on things that we won't be able to do on the race weekend, so it's great that we have three cars. Ryan (Briscoe) has been up to speed straight away, so it's good to try three different things. This circuit doesn't really compare to the three road and street circuits during the year, so we're not terribly worried about out and out speed, but we've shown we have some speed so far."

PATRICK CARPENTIER (No. 83 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone): "I am very happy with today. We made a lot of progress after the morning session and gained twice as much ground as the other teams, cutting our time behind the leader from 1.5 seconds to .8. Everyone aims for first place, so we still have to work, work, work, but I know Red Bull Cheever Racing can do it."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We're happy. It was a good day in the Pennzoil car overall. I think a lot of other guys tested here before and it took us a minute to get everything in place. We found a good baseline and a good foundation going into tomorrow. It's fun to get back out here and I'm excited about what Chevrolet is bringing us this season. I think we're just going to get stronger and stronger every day that we're out here."

THURSDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local): 9 a.m. to noon: IndyCar Series Practice Noon to 1 p.m.: Lunch break 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.: IndyCar Series Practice *** 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 broadcast 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 broadcast by ESPN2 at 4 p.m. (EST) on March 17.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Buddy Rice , Ryan Briscoe , Chip Ganassi , Jim Beam
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing