IRL: Indy Racing League Notebook 2004-04-30

Indy Racing League News and Notes -- April 30, 2004 Today's IRL headlines IRL Officials, Teams Pleased With Open Testing Results Second "Fast Life" Airs Saturday on ESPN2 IRL Officials, Teams Pleased With Open Testing Results. The first ...

Indy Racing League News and Notes -- April 30, 2004

Today's IRL headlines
IRL Officials, Teams Pleased With Open Testing Results
Second "Fast Life" Airs Saturday on ESPN2

IRL Officials, Teams Pleased With Open Testing Results.

The first extended test of the aerodynamic package that will be used in the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 drew rave reviews from Indy Racing League officials and teams.

Twenty-seven driver-car combinations took to the 2.5-mile oval on April 28-29 in preparations for the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" on May 30. Opening Day for the Indianapolis 500 is May 9. Despite less than ideal conditions, IRL Senior Vice President for Racing Operations Brian Barnhart was pleased with the results of the test.

"As we were with the April 3 engine test, we were right where we anticipated," Barnhart said. "We got some good quality track time. We had between 6,000 and 6,500 miles between the two days with our new configuration on the motors and the new specs on the chassis, and we haven't had a failure with engines and the chassis are running the speeds we anticipated."

The mid-season changes were made in an effort to reduce speeds and ensure safer and exciting racing in the IRL IndyCar® Series. The new package consists of a quarter-inch center-line vertical wicker, a reverse quarter-inch wicker on the bottom side of the rear wing and curved skid plate. The engine capacity has also been reduced to 3.0 liters beginning at Indianapolis.

The results have been speeds significantly slower than Helio Castroneves' pole-winning lap of 231.732 mph in 2003, but Barnhart anticipates speeds will get faster as teams become more acquainted with the package.

"As the teams get more track time and get more familiar with these specs and the track gets more rubber in it, it will be in a position where they can run a little harder," he said. "We've said all along that we anticipate pole speeds in the 224-225 (mph) range. Of course at Indianapolis, pole speed is dictated by weather and track conditions, but sometime during the month, you'll see someone running a 223 or 224 (mph), which is where we said they'd be running right out of the chute."

Barnhart was also pleased with the work each of the five IndyCar Series manufacturers have accomplished in maintaining a competitive balance.

Marlboro Team Penske's Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves were the only drivers to break 220 mph in their Toyota-powered Dallaras, while defending IndyCar Series Champion Scott Dixon was among the four quickest cars on both days of testing in his Target Chip Ganassi Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone entry.

Chevrolet's strong effort was led by Panther Racing's Tomas Scheckter, who was one of four drivers to record a lap of more than 219 mph during the two-day test in his Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.

"The guys at Chevy and on our team have worked hard," Scheckter said. "It's still early days. We're doing two days here and we still have a whole month to go. As long as we all keep our heads down and carry on working hard, I think that's the most important thing.

"It's great to see we can come in the first two days and have a good performance, but it's still a long way to go."

Honda's top speed was recorded IndyCar Series points leader Dan Wheldon, who posted a lap of 218.953 in his No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone

"I think it was a really good test for Andretti Green Racing," said Kyle Moyer, team manager for Andretti Green Racing, which fields cars for Wheldon, Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti and Bryan Herta. "We got accomplished what we wanted to in two days and we know what we need. Things will probably change a bunch in the time before we come back. Dan (Wheldon) being up near the top is nice to see and the other two guys are up to speed with even better cars, so I think all-in-all it was a really good test for the whole team."

***

Second "Fast Life" Airs Saturday on ESPN2

The Fast Life: Countdown to Indy," the second of a series of lifestyle shows featuring IndyCar® Series drivers, debuts at 9 p.m. (EDT) Saturday, May 1 on ESPN2.

Jamie Little, a pit reporter for ESPN's coverage of IndyCar Series races, will play host to the show.

Segments include:

* Marlboro Penske Racing teammates Sam Hornish Jr.and Helio Castroneves reliving their 1-2 finish at the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

* Andretti Green Racing's Dan Wheldon giving an all-access tour of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

* IndyCar Series veteran Greg Ray bringing along ESPN cameras on his fishing trip to Barbados.

* Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Darren Manning having his golf game analyzed by former British Open champion ABC Sports golf commentator Ian Baker-Finch during a round at the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course in Indianapolis.

* Tomas Scheckter, Vitor Meira, Tony Kanaan and Ed Carpenter taking viewers behind the scenes on their recent trip to Japan for the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi. Scheckter practiced the art of Kendo, a special form of martial arts; Meira brings viewers along for the ride at the track's go-kart facility; Carpenter takes viewers along on his shopping excursion around Tokyo; and Kanaan visits students at a school in the town of Motegi.

An ESPN Original Entertainment special, "The Season: The Race for Indy," will preview the Indianapolis 500 at 5 p.m. (EDT) Saturday, May 29, on ESPN. The program focuses on drivers Ed Carpenter, Dan Wheldon and A.J. Foyt IV as well as team owners Michael Andretti and A.J. Foyt in their preparations for this year's Indy 500. Cameras have followed each of these men since January, both on and off the track.

The 88th Indianapolis 500 will air on ABC Sports on Sunday, May 30, beginning at 11 a.m. (EDT). ABC Sports' telecast of the Indianapolis 500 marks the network's 40th consecutive year of televising the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

***

The 2004 IRL IndyCar Series season continues with the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Noon (EDT) on May 30 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ABC and the IMS Radio Network. The Menards Infiniti Pro Series Futaba Freedom 100 will take place at 2 p.m. (EDT) on May 22 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be broadcast live by ESPN2.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Darren Manning , Greg Ray , Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Chip Ganassi , Jamie Little , A.J. Foyt , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr. , Ed Carpenter , Vitor Meira , Ian Baker
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Team Penske