Ray hits 223.7, Luyendyk 222.5 at Speedway in Private Testing INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, April 19, 2001 - Greg Ray, winner of the coveted Indianapolis 500 Pole Award in 2000, turned an unofficial late-afternoon lap of 223.7 mph at the Indianapolis...
Ray hits 223.7, Luyendyk 222.5 at Speedway in Private Testing
INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, April 19, 2001 - Greg Ray, winner of the coveted Indianapolis 500 Pole Award in 2000, turned an unofficial late-afternoon lap of 223.7 mph at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as private testing continued Thursday. Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk reached 222.5 in the morning.
Jeff Ward, the 1997 Bank One Rookie of the Year, and veteran Robbie Buhl took their first private testing laps at the 2.5-mile oval as Kelley Racing drivers Scott Sharp and Mark Dismore wound up their two days of testing. Ray, driving the No. 2 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone entry, thought more speed was there for the taking. "We did a 223.1 followed by a 223.7," he said. "I think we could've done a few more. Conditions were really good. We weren't really on the edge. But it was windy ... you were on the rev limiter one way and trying to dig out of a hole going the other way.
"We didn't have the feel we wanted in the car (Wednesday) and we made improvements last night," Ray said. "This track requires a lot more finesse, a fine touch. You can't be overly aggressive here. We worked a lot just to get me comfortable. You don't want to ever come here and not remember it's different than other race tracks. We're trying to make the balance of the car better. There's nothing earth-shattering about what we're doing because track temperatures will be different in May."
Luyendyk, driving the No. 5 Meijer G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone entry for Treadway/Hubbard Racing, figured his team was on target.
"We've reached speed and we're happy with it," he said. "We hit 222.5 this morning. At this point, there's no need to go quicker and quicker. We've run some pretty decent speeds but we haven't learned anything we didn't know. It's not like we came out of the gate and hit the first setup." He added that he expects speeds to reach 224 during official practice, beginning May 6 with Opening Day at the Speedway. "(Speeds of) 224 and above is kind of my prediction," he said. "The last couple of miles an hour are pretty hard to find."
Ward, fresh off an MBNA Pole Award April 8 at the Indy Racing Northern Light Series' Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami in the Heritage Motorsports/Firestone/Menard G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone car, said he felt he'd be in the hunt on MBNA Pole Day May 12.
"With the second week (of practice), we can really concentrate on qualifying and not need to do our race setups in the first week," Ward said. "I think we have a really good car for qualifying. Qualifying's important here because you can get up to the pit exit (for choice of pit) and have a clear shot out.
"It takes a few sessions to get the cobwebs out, get everything comfortable. Everybody can only test (in April, by Indy Racing League rules) for two days and that makes for a level playing field."
Buhl tested in the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Team G Force/Infiniti/Firestone car and was working with the new Infiniti 35A motor.
"We didn't get out till two o'clock," he said. "The last time we ran, we didn't run very much (three laps in the race at Homestead). We started kind of with a race setup from last year. It's definitely a steep learning curve from the team's standpoint and Infiniti Motorsports' standpoint. But I'm really encouraged and optimistic about what we have."
About the month of May, Buhl said, "Tough, but that's what's made this place what it is. I'm hoping we're here for a stout month of May and we're going to do everything we can to get on the front row - along with all the other guys who are trying to qualify."
Dismore drove the No. 28 Delphi/Bryant Heating and Cooling Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone entry and Sharp was in the No 8 Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone machine.
Private testing continues daily through April 24. The 85th Indianapolis 500 is 11 a.m. (EST) Sunday, May 27.
IMS PRIVATE TESTING QUOTES:
MARK DISMORE: "We just swept through tilt, ride heights, springs, shock stuff. What we try to do is make a list of 'don't dos' because it saves a lot of time. We're trying to do things we don't revisit. We'll run out of time before we get to the bottom of the list. The track has a lot of grip because it's April. You'll be amazed in two weeks here. Guys will go fast but it'll be harder to get there."
SCOTT SHARP: "We all expect conditions to be a lot different in May. Some teams don't want to run in April because of that. We're trying to get a consistent baseline in the car, something that responds well to changes. We're doing a couple long runs to make sure the consistency is there for a lot of laps. Ultimately, this is to get everybody pumped and we've done that. The speed came without trying. Nothing's too urgent at this point. We know we can work on final wing settings in May. We know we can trim the car out a lot more."