IRL: Indy 500 Test Thursday report

Hornish Leads Toyota Power In Open Test INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, April 29, 2004 -- Toyota drivers swept the top three spots on the second day of an IRL IndyCar® Series Open Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Sam Hornish Jr. had the top...

Hornish Leads Toyota Power In Open Test

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, April 29, 2004 -- Toyota drivers swept the top three spots on the second day of an IRL IndyCar® Series Open Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Sam Hornish Jr. had the top speed of the day -- and of the four test sessions -- at 40.8881 seconds (220.113 mph) in his No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone entry during the afternoon session.

Hornish's teammate Helio Castroneves posted a fast lap of 40.9316 seconds (220.075) late in the session on the 2.5-mile oval. Reigning IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon was third quick at 40.9119 seconds (219.985) in his No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone during the morning session.

Teams received their first extended exposure to the new 3.0-liter engine and aero package that will be used for the 88th Indianapolis 500 on May 30. Twenty-six driver-car combinations were on the track the first day and 27 on April 29. They put in 2,927 laps (1,375 the first day; 1,552 the second) that included three incidents of cars making contact with the SAFER Barrier in the morning session on April 29.

Track activity was underway less than 10 minutes when Buddy Rice's No. 15 Rahal-Letterman Argent/Pioneer made contact with the wall in Turn 1. Rice had just completed a lap of 213.967 mph and was on his sixth lap of the session. He was checked and cleared to drive, though the car wasn't available.

About 30 minutes later, Darren Manning's No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone made light contact with the Turn 1 wall. He had just completed a lap of 208.364 mph.

Alex Barron's No. 51 Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone suffered heavy damage to the right side and rear of the car when it made contact with the SAFER Barrier between Turns 1 and 2. Barron was checked and released from the medical center with a slightly bruised right foot.

<pre> FASTEST SPEEDS OF MORNING SESSION Pos. Car Name C/E/T Speed 1 1 Scott Dixon G/T/F 219.985 mph 2 4 Tomas Scheckter D/C/F 218.955 mph 3 24 Felipe Giaffone D/C/F 218.830 mph 4 6 Sam Hornish Jr. D/T/F 218.804 mph 5 3 Helio Castroneves D/T/F 218.718 mph

FASTEST SPEEDS OF AFTERNOON SESSION Pos. Car Name C/E/T Speed 1 6 Sam Hornish Jr. D/T/F 220.113 mph 2 3 Helio Castroneves D/T/F 220.075 mph 3 4 Tomas Scheckter D/C/F 219.125 mph 4 26 Dan Wheldon D/H/F 218.953 mph 5 24 Felipe Giaffone D/C/F 218.421 mph

FASTEST SPEEDS OF DAY (COMBINED SESSIONS) Pos. Car Name C/E/T Speed 1 6 Sam Hornish Jr. D/T/F 220.113 mph 2 3 Helio Castroneves D/T/F 220.075 mph 3 1 Scott Dixon G/T/F 219.985 mph 4 4 Tomas Scheckter D/C/F 219.125 mph 5 26 Dan Wheldon D/H/F 218.953 mph </pre> POST PRACTICE QUOTES:

SCOTT DIXON (No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "It was a good test for us overall. The windy conditions mixed things up a bit but we're happy with what we've accomplished. I posted a 219.985 with a bit of a tow this morning but had a 219.5 running by myself. The track will only get faster throughout the month but the IRL has done a good job in establishing guidelines and making changes to slow things down and still make the car a challenge to drive. My comfort level is good and I feel a lot better about heading into the month of May than I did last year. Having been through it once, I know what to expect this year and that makes it easier. Now we have a few weeks to prepare and to embrace the event."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We are in good shape for the start of the month of May. The other guys, for sure, will be working hard so Marlboro Team Penske needs to continue doing what we are doing."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "The Marlboro Team Penske guys worked really hard piecing together our cars after Japan to be prepared for the open test. Toyota has been working hard as well developing the new spec engine. Another week at the shop with these cars and we should be in real good shape for Opening Day next weekend. Everything went really good both days of testing, each change we made seemed to make the car a little better."

BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It was a good two days for the XM Satellite Radio team. We worked on our race car and race settings mostly and we have a comfortable car right now. It is going to give us a good starting point for the month of May but we still have a lot of work to do as does everyone else. I didn't have a very good test when I was here for the first 3.0-liter test, so we kind of went back to basics to start here.

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Indy's a place where you can always 'chase it' if you want to. You can always try more things, you can always chase speed, chase setup, chase conditions or the wind. You never run out of things to do. We came in with the objective to get us pretty well squared away to come into the month. I think we've done that. We've tried out some pieces we've been developing. That's working well. We're not trying to go too crazy. We're happy with our speed. Overall, we're pretty pleased."

TORA TAKAGI (No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We tried a number of different things these last two days during the open test. While we always would like to be in the top-5 of every session, we continued to learn how the Pioneer Mo Nunn car behaves and responds to different conditions. We now have a baseline for the month of May, and I look forward to speaking with the engineering team in further detail to learn how we can continue to improve our times."

GREG RAY (No. 13 Access Motorsports Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "We're really here just to find out the differences of the 3-liter engine vs. the 3½-liter engine, the difference of the aero package on the car. A lot of the work we're doing among the Honda teams, we're on a lot of different programs so they can have some good discovery information to come back prepared for the month of May. We're just trying to work on the feel of the race car. There's a lot of guys out there popping off some pretty good lap times and I think the draft is a key influencing factor there on a lot of those times. We didn't do a lot of running yesterday. We thought the wind was not a good investment of our time having six sets of tires for two days. Those were pretty bad conditions. It's windy today but near as windy as yesterday. I think we're getting a handle on the car. We're learning a lot about the mechanical package so we're right on agenda."

A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We pretty much accomplished what we needed to. We threw a lot of stuff at the Conseco car, and we learned a lot. It's not as fast as we would have liked, but we know what to bring back so we can gain speed."

LARRY FOYT (No. 14T Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "On my end, I think we accomplished what we had to because we rolled it back into the garage. That was my biggest concern, not to do anything stupid. My dad (A.J. Foyt) kept the car comfortable, and we just started trimming it out and got some decent speeds. We're satisfied."

ROGER YASUKAWA (No. 16 Rahal Letterman Sammy Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "It was a good day for our Sammy team, not too good for (teammate) Buddy's (Rice) team. I'm just glad Buddy is OK. We tried a lot of things today. It's hard to relate the (Panoz) G Force chassis to the Dallara that I raced here last year, but overall, we had a good day. It was an easier and calmer day for me after the Japan race. We were so busy during that week in Japan that I felt rushed a lot of times. Today was good to work with the crew again and adjust many things. This is a good team and very experienced here at Indy. I know that working with Buddy and Vitor (Meira) will help us overall for the month of May. Last year, it was just the team and I trying to work out the setups. Now, we have three teams working together, and that is a big help. I'm very with pleased how things are going as we enter the beginning of May."

FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 24 Team Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "I think it's been very smooth. All the changes we've been doing have been good changes. We're just taking our time. We're not doing anything crazy right now. We're just taking our time. We'll see. For sure, it's a big surprise for me. Things are going better than I expected, and that's very good. I hope it keeps going this way."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It has been a good couple of days for the Klein Tools/Jim Beam team. I think it is important not to lose focus of the big picture here. We have to make sure we have a good baseline for when we qualify and when we race. We are working more on a qualifying balance rather than a qualifying setup, and that's coming along nicely. The main thing we have done over the last two days is answered some questions about things we can try in May and things we cannot. We have distinguished between the two, which is very positive."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Arca/Ex Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It has been a frustrating couple of days getting to know the Speedway again. We got some work done with the Archipelago Exchange (ArcaEx) car, but I'm glad we have a couple of weeks in May to get it better. We are slowly getting there with car, but we still are battling some issues. The weather really isn't a factor. It is the same for everyone out there, and we just have to work around it."

SARAH FISHER (No. 39 Kelley Racing Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I don't think we'll ever accomplish everything we want. We have a plan of attack and everything's laying down real smooth. There's no troubles that we're running into, so we're quite happy. It's different to come out here and do the first couple of laps on Opening Day vs. coming out beforehand and being prepared. It definitely relieves a lot of tension."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (No. 5 Quaker State Telmex Tecate Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "As a team I think we've accomplished a lot. Yesterday, we struggled a little bit with the car but today we're a lot stronger. We're in the top 10 this afternoon. So the car is definitely better. We're now just trying to compare my car and Kosuke's (Matsuura) car just to see where the differences are and where we can improve it. It's been a little bit faster than us so we're trying to learn what they're doing. But it's been a very good test for the team."

KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "We're doing very good, trying to find the right setup. Actually we improved two miles an hour from yesterday. We got 218.7 something., which is quite a good time. I'm the quickest of the Honda engine drivers. I'm very happy about this. The car has good balance and I think it will have good balance for next month."

ROBBY GORDON (No. 70 Meijer/Coca-Cola Robby Gordon Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I don't think our goal was to come to Indianapolis and be at the top of the chart. We just happened to hit the setup right away, and got ourselves in a ballpark that we like. The Chevrolet engine seems to be real good right now. Obviously we have a Toyota on top of the chart but I think we'll be able to trim our car out and get into position to be as good as that later on."

AL UNSER JR. (No. 20 Patrick Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We went out and ran quite a few miles, learned quite a bit about the car. We're real happy with the Chevrolet engine. The more time me and this team and my engineers and mechanics and everybody, the more time we spend together, the better off we're going to be. These two days were very much learning curves on both the engineering side, the mechanical side, the driver side. We're happy with our results."

MARK TAYLOR (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We were quicker today than we were yesterday, and I'm getting more confidence on the racetrack. It's my third day at Indianapolis, and I'm still getting used to everything. We passed the rookie test, and that's important. This has been a good start for the Menards/Johns Manville guys going into May. The Chevy engine is just doing great, and we're very happy with everything we've experienced with the new 3.0 liter engine. We were dealing with some understeer during the afternoon session, but it's still early, so there's no point in pushing it too hard. We're right where we need to be heading into the Month of May."

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (No. 36 PacifiCare Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "We learned some things during the test and will now make a long list of the things we need to work on when the track opens on May 9. It was the first time we worked together as a group and with the new aerodynamic package and Honda engine. We still have a long way to go but we are making progress."

ALEX BARRON (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Some-thing mechanical happened. Something happened in the rear of the car, but we're not really sure what it is yet. They're looking at the tapes, so we'll see if we can figure out what it can be. It was a pretty good hit, 45 Gs I think, so yeah, it was a solid hit."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Pioneer/Argent Mortgage Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "I just made a mistake. I just got in there and it stepped out. It's my own fault. Compared to yesterday, the weather is a lot better, so it wasn't the wind. I'm OK, just upset right now. The car felt good immediately. In fact, I was flat through Turns 2 and 4 on the previous lap. Then it was good into Turn 3 too. But, in the middle of Turn 1, I ran over the small bump in the turn and the car started to step out on the rear end. It just kept sliding too much in the rear. Then, boom, she went around and the rear end hit the wall. The car snapped around and I clipped the front end with the wall too. I tried to drive it into the corner pretty hard and the conditions were different today. I feel bad because the crew has worked so hard to get everything ready for the test. And now we have this problem. I just hope the car isn't too badly bent up."

DARREN MANNING (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): "Well, she just got a bit loose. The wind is a lot better than yesterday, and we're going a bit faster into Turn 1. We were in qualifying trim and I was just getting up to speed, making adjustments in the cockpit, but obviously, I didn't make enough. I nearly caught it, but it just got too loose."

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Darren Manning , Robby Gordon , Felipe Giaffone , Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon , Alex Barron , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr. , Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing