IRL: Hornish stays on top of Homestead-Miami open test

HOMESTEAD, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2001 - Sophomore sensation Sam Hornish Jr. topped the daily and overall speed charts for the Feb. 23-24 Indy Racing Northern Light Series Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway despite high winds, afternoon ...

HOMESTEAD, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2001 - Sophomore sensation Sam Hornish Jr. topped the daily and overall speed charts for the Feb. 23-24 Indy Racing Northern Light Series Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway despite high winds, afternoon intermittent showers and an accident on Saturday.

Late Friday afternoon, Hornish, who completed 185 laps over the weekend, powered his No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone to an overall quick lap of 26.9819 seconds, 200.134 mph around the 1.5-mile oval. Of the 2,073 laps (3,110 miles) turned by 14 drivers, Hornish was the only driver to break the 200-mph barrier during the two-day test.

On his 29th and final lap of the Saturday morning session, Hornish hit the outside Turn 4 wall then slid to a stop halfway down the front stretch along the inside wall. Hornish was uninjured in the accident. Before the crash, he again unleashed the fastest time of the day with a lap of 27.186 seconds, 198.629 mph.

"I was going through Turns 3 and 4, and I was halfway through the corner and lost it," said Hornish. "There was a gust of wind. I just couldn't keep up with it. The back end came around. I don't like to make the guys work any harder. I feel fine. I'm just disappointed. I don't like to make the guys fix wrecked cars."

Sarah Fisher, another second-year Northern Light Series driver, brought out the only other accident-related caution of the weekend. Driving the No. 15 Walker Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, she hit the wall coming out of Turn 4 and slid to a stop, just 15 minutes into the afternoon session. Fisher was uninjured.

Chilean-native and Miami-resident Eliseo Salazar put on a hometown show with an overall fast time of 27.2143 seconds, 198.425 mph, just short of Hornish's overall best. Salazar logged just 86 laps and did not turn any laps after noon on Saturday because of high winds during the final session. Although several teams have conducted private tests at the track, this was the first official activity for the Indy Racing Northern Light Series at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The teams were preparing for the April 8 Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami presented by 123.com Americatel, the debut of Indy Racing in South Florida.

"With Homestead being a new track on the schedule, this was a good test for our teams," said Brian Barnhart, vice president of operations for the Indy Racing League. "Again, I'm pleased with what we've seen from our competition package so far. The teams ran more than 2,000 laps the past two days, and there was only one engine problem.

"The Homestead-Miami Speedway is a first-class facility, and everyone involved in the Northern Light Series is looking forward to returning for the Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami in April."

The best laps from the two-day Homestead-Miami Speedway open test with time and speed follow: <pre>

Pos. Driver Best Lap Time Speed Laps 1. Sam Hornish Jr. 26.9819 200.134 mph 185 2. Eliseo Salazar 27.2143 198.425 mph 86 3. Buddy Lazier 27.2552 198.127 mph 161 4. Jeff Ward 27.2735 197.994 mph 102 5. *Felipe Giaffone 27.3147 197.696 mph 102 6. Greg Ray 27.3469 197.463 mph 138 7. Stan Wattles 27.4071 197.029 mph 162 8. Airton Dare 27.4599 196.650 mph 179 9. Eddie Cheever Jr. 27.6389 195.377 mph 196 10. Sarah Fisher 27.8130 194.154 mph 223 11. Robbie Buhl 27.9574 193.151 mph 179 12. Buzz Calkins 28.0968 192.193 mph 134 13. Jon Herb 28.3430 190.523 mph 209 14. *Tyce Carlson 28.3816 190.264 mph 17 * indicates only ran on Friday, Feb. 23.

Saturday's best laps with time and speed follow:

Pos. Driver Best Lap Time Speed Laps 1. Sam Hornish Jr. 27.1863 198.629 mph 29 2. Eliseo Salazar 27.2143 198.425 mph 18 3. Jeff Ward 27.2735 197.994 mph 56 4. Buddy Lazier 27.4153 196.970 mph 69 5. Airton Dare 27.4599 196.650 mph 99 6. Stan Wattles 27.4710 196.571 mph 62 7. Greg Ray 27.5005 196.360 mph 76 8. Eddie Cheever Jr. 27.6389 195.377 mph 98 9. Robbie Buhl 27.7025 194.928 mph 75 10. Sarah Fisher 27.8130 194.154 mph 79 11. Buzz Calkins 28.0968 192.193 mph 75 12. Jon Herb 28.3430 190.523 mph 58

</pre> SATURDAY QUOTEBOOK:

SARAH FISHER (#15 Walker Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone)
(About afternoon accident):
"I think it was my second lap on new tires. I don't think I got the heat up in the tires. It's extremely windy. You have to look at the windsock on the backstretch every lap. I think we are going to have a stable race car. We've been fighting an understeer all day yesterday and some today." (About the track): "I think it's a great track. It's flat and smooth. It'll be a good race. We will be able to get side by side."

BUDDY LAZIER (#91 Tae-Bo/Coors Light/Delta Faucet/Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, defending Northern Light Cup champion)
"Really, we ran our fastest time today in the wind this afternoon. We've learned a lot. We've tested here one time before. We feel good because we ran our fastest lap here in the wind, so we do feel good about that. This was a huge learning curve for us. We took in a lot (of data). It's been a very productive test." (About track's Open House): "It was great to see all the families out here at the track today. I think we are a good series for the track, and this track is good for our series."

GREG RAY (#2 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone)
"The first day of the test we were getting to gel a little better, working together better. We were ok with the car, but not super happy. It's a very challenging track, and to get more consistency, it's going to be even more difficult. Even though we struggled with the wind today, you're still learning. This is a driver, team, setup, how you sleep the night before racetrack. I think if you win this race you're still not going to think you had a good car. This track is challenging and demanding, that's the bottom line."

ELISEO SALAZAR (#14 Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone)
"We made some gains from yesterday. We changed the setup, put on new tires and did two quick laps. A.J. (Foyt) called me in, and I learned a famous phrase of his, 'It doesn't pay anything today.' We were waiting for the wind to die down, because you don't learn much in these conditions. The wind appears to have picked up though, so we're calling it quits (at noon). We have a private test set up next week in Phoenix, so we'll get ready for that." (About hometown race): "I always wished to have a home grand prix in Chile, so this will be the closest thing. I did a lot of interviews with Spanish-speaking journalists already, and I am sure come race weekend it will be a zoo of Chilean journalists. I am looking forward to it."

JEFF WARD (#35 Heritage Motorsports G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone)
(About first test with Heritage Motorsports):
"It's going very well considering they (the team) were working until midnight Thursday night to get ready for the test. It's a great testament to Mitch Davis (team manager) and the guys for them to have been able to put it all together and get up to speed so quickly. We've picked up two miles per hour from yesterday. I don't think we're going to try for any more speed. We don't quite have all the (chassis) updates since it was put together so quickly. Once we get all the (chassis) updates, we'll pick up that speed." (About the windy conditions): "It slows you down. It just pushes the car up in (Turn) 1. The more you try to fix that the more nervous it makes you in (Turns) 3 and 4."

-IRNLS/IMS-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Buzz Calkins , Sarah Fisher , Greg Ray , Felipe Giaffone , Eddie Cheever , Jon Herb , Robbie Buhl , Eliseo Salazar , Buddy Lazier , Jeff Ward , Airton Daré , Tyce Carlson , Stan Wattles , A.J. Foyt , Brian Barnhart , Sam Hornish Jr. , Sam Hornis