IRL: Indy 500: Test notes 2003-041-23

Private testing wraps up at Indianapolis. Mario Andretti, Brack OK after late crash. INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, April 23, 2003 -- Thirteen drivers took part in private testing April 23 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, including...

Private testing wraps up at Indianapolis.
Mario Andretti, Brack OK after late crash.

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, April 23, 2003 -- Thirteen drivers took part in private testing April 23 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, including 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner Mario Andretti, who drove an Indy-style car for the first time at the Speedway since 1994.

Andretti's day was cut short at 5:58 p.m. (EST) when he was involved in an accident with 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner Kenny Brack between Turns 1 and 2.

Officials from Team Rahal, which fields Brack's No. 15 Rahal/Letterman/Miller Lite/Pioneer Dallara/Honda/Firestone, said they believe Brack's car experienced a mechanical problem in Turn 1. Brack then spun and made contact with the SAFER Barrier on the outside retaining wall at the exit of Turn 1. Andretti, who was following Brack on the 2.5-mile oval, then ran over debris from Brack's accident between Turns 1 and 2, and his No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone went airborne, made contact with the outside retaining fence, flipped and landed on all four wheels before making contact with the SAFER Barrier on the outside retaining wall in Turn 2.

Andretti and Brack were not injured.

"It was so instantaneous," Andretti said of the accident. "Debris was still moving on the track, so it's not like the accident had been there for a second or two. I figured I'd get a tow from Kenny and put a big number up and instead, there he was. Something must have happened to his car. I'm very blessed. The man upstairs has been taking care of me for so many years, I can't see him giving up now.

"We didn't want to end the day like this, but I don't think it was anyone's fault. It's just one of those things."

The legendary Andretti was testing the car fielded by Andretti Green Racing -- co-owned by his son Michael Andretti -- and normally driven by Tony Kanaan, who is recovering from a broken arm suffered in the Indy Japan 300 on April 13 at Twin Ring Motegi.

Brack was thankful for the SAFER Barriers being in place in all four corners of the Speedway.

"I have to say that the SAFER wall that they have here at Indy is probably the most undramatic crash you would have on an oval," Brack said. "I've never hit the SAFER Barrier before, but it really helps absorb energy. We just have to find out what happened. Something happened going into Turn 1 so I lifted out of the throttle, but at the apex the car spun around. We're just trying to investigate the data."

It was the final day of private testing at Indianapolis before the 87th Indianapolis 500 opens Sunday, May 4. Among the other drivers testing was two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Al Unser Jr., driver of the No. 31 Corteco Dallara/Toyota/Firestone. Unser won in 1992 and in Andretti's last start at Indy, the 78th Indianapolis 500 in 1994.

"Testing went well," Unser said. "Both Scott (Sharp) and I are happy. Kelley Racing did a great job; all the crew guys really busted their butts. Quite honestly, I feel that we're right there; we're competitive. It's a great start for the month of May for Kelley Racing."

Two-time reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves also turned laps at the Speedway in preparation for his attempt to become the first driver in history to win three consecutive Indianapolis 500-Mile Races.

"Today it was beautiful sunshine, but it still unfortunately with the colder conditions it's still kind of unrealistic on what it's going to be like on May 4 or the month of May," Castroneves said. "So, we have a basic start and a basic setup, and we did what we came to do. And hopefully, it's going to be competitive."

There was one other accident during the day. At approximately 2 p.m. (EST), Tomas Scheckter made contact with the outside retaining wall exiting Turn 3 in his No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. He was uninjured.

"We tried some pretty radical changes, and it made the car too loose," Scheckter said. "I was on my out lap, and in Turn 3 it started to come around. I caught it once, then twice, but it just came around and hit the wall pretty good. It all happened really fast. I'm just glad that it happened on my out lap and not when I was up to full speed."

The 87th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for May 25. A limited number of reserved-seat Race Day tickets for the Indianapolis 500 remain available. General admission and reserved tickets for practice, qualifications and Race Day can be purchased on the World Wide Web via www.imstix.com or by calling the IMS Ticket Office at (800) 822-INDY or (317) 492-6700.

-ims-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Al Unser Jr. , Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Tony Kanaan , Kenny Brack , Mario Andretti , Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing