IRL: Indy 500: Private test session report

Cheever tops speed chart at Indy test. INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, April 9, 2002 - 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr. posted a lap of 225.386 mph in his No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone on April 9 at the ...

Cheever tops speed chart at Indy test.

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, April 9, 2002 - 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr. posted a lap of 225.386 mph in his No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone on April 9 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the fastest of the teams that released speeds during the private test session.

"This is the first time we have come to Indy since our simulation last fall, and the Red Bull Cheever Racing Infiniti is much quicker," Cheever said. "We are running some engines today that are the same configuration as the engine we had at the California Speedway because the updates are not available yet. We will be validating those updates pretty soon.

"The crew worked on a lot of race simulations today. I don't think the speed of the race will be 225 (average mph), but we were doing quite a lot of laps at that speed."

Teams tested in preparation for the 86th Indianapolis 500 on May 26. Testing was delayed until about 11:30 a.m. (EST) due to early-morning rain, and conditions were cloudy and with temperatures around 50 degrees throughout the day.

Team Rahal returned to the Speedway for the first time since 1995 with Jimmy Vasser posting the second-fastest speed of 224.664 in the No. 19 Miller Lite/Rahal Letterman Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.

"We're just getting started," Vasser said. "The conditions are really good. The car feels great. When it's cold like this, it's pretty easy to have the car working pretty good. We're working on stuff that is real back-to-back oriented, straight-line speeds and different wheels and things that we need to get answers for."

Indianapolis 500 rookies Alex Barron and Tomas Scheckter both took their first laps around the Speedway with Barron posting a speed of 223.167 in the No. 44 Blair Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone while Scheckter, Cheever's teammate, reached 222.325 in the No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.

"We showed up here, and I didn't really know what to expect," Barron said. "I'd never been around the track before, but it's a lot more than what I was expecting. There's no other track that's anything like it."

Scheckter agreed.

"This is my first time at Indy, and it's just unbelievable," Scheckter said. "This will put a smile on my face for a while now. You can't compare any circuit to Indianapolis.

"Today we have been taking it easy. I am easily flat around the circuit, which is a great feeling. We are not massively quick today, but there is potential in the car to go a lot quicker. We are taking it easy, making small changes in the car, and improving it little by little. It took about 15 to 20 laps to learn the circuit, but you are always learning. Like Eddie (Cheever Jr.) says, he learns something every time he drives here."

Shigeaki Hattori reached 221.802 in his No. 12 EPSON Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. Jaques Lazier and Robby Gordon each tested for Team Menard, but the team did not release speeds. Gordon competes full time in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series and is entered in the No. 31 Menards/Childress/Cingular Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone as a teammate to Lazier.

"It went pretty well," Gordon said. "Jaques was out here testing with Team Menard, and we thought we'd come out and get integrated with Indy cars again. It's been a year."

Said Lazier: "We're pretty happy with where we stand right now. It's a little cold and a little windy, but I'll tell you what, in the offseason when they diamond-cut this track, I cannot believe how smooth this track is. There used to be a bump over in Turn 1 and over in (Turn) 3, but right now it's as clean or as smooth as a lake up in Colorado in the morning."

-ims-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Robby Gordon , Eddie Cheever , Shigeaki Hattori , Jimmy Vasser , Jaques Lazier  , Alex Barron