IRL: Indy500: Practice report 2001 May 17

David Reininger - motorsport.com Indianapolis, IN (May 17, 2001) - Greg Ray was the fastest driver of the day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, recording a lap at 222.283 mph in his Team Menard Oldsmobile-powered Dallara. "We worked with a...

David Reininger - motorsport.com

Indianapolis, IN (May 17, 2001) - Greg Ray was the fastest driver of the day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, recording a lap at 222.283 mph in his Team Menard Oldsmobile-powered Dallara.

"We worked with a heavy, full race setup trying to find a good balanced car and also aerodynamic downforce," said Ray, who enjoyed his second consecutive day atop the speed charts.

"Darrell Soppe and I communicate very well together. As a driver you sometimes are concerned about your input and don't listen to the crew chief, but I have been giving 100 percent attention to him, and we are working very well together."

Second fastest today was Billy Boat, driver of the Curb Records Dallara. After struggling for several days, Boat managed to turn a lap at 220.866 mph.

"I think we are making progress," said Boat. "We made a big change to the setup, and we had more success. We've got something very good to work with and tweak."

Minutes after the track opened for practice, Boat spun in turn two. He was uninjured after hitting the inside retaining wall but the car suffered minor damage. Boat returned to the track in the No. 98 car after his crew made repairs.

"We have been struggling with exit understeer for some time," said Boat. "I made very slight contact, did some damage to the rear suspension, but not much."

Raul Boesel made his first appearance of the event, turning 50 laps in Arie Luyendyk's Meijer-sponsored No. 5T. Boesel posted two laps at 220 mph just before the gun fired, signaling the end of practice. His 49th tour of the 2.5-mile speedway averaged 220.518 mph, placing the Brazilian driver third on the day's speed chart.

"It was a good day," said Boesel, who hasn't driven an Indy car since last year's 500. "We made good progress. I'm sure I'm going to improve myself the next few days."

Robbie Buhl and Scott Goodyear rounded out the top five on the day's speed chart.

Donnie Beechler was another driver making his first on track appearance today. Beechler has been offered a third A.J. Foyt entry should Salazar make the field in Foyt's No 14. Beechler, who turned 27 laps in the No. 14T car, was 13th fastest on the day after recording a lap at 218.224 mph.

"I've been fortunate because Robby (Gordon) and Eliseo (Salazar) have already shaken down the cars," said Beechler. "They are already setup. It makes my job easier."

With Salazar second in Indy Racing Northern Light Series championship points, Foyt's number one priority is putting Salazar safely in the field.

"Our main objective right now is to get Salazar in the show," said Beechler. "I have no doubt in his ability. I am confident in it. I'm praying for him."

"We need to qualify on Sunday and make the race and keep collecting points towards our goal - that is to win the championship," said Salazar, who was sixth fastest on the day.

"We're preparing two cars for Eliseo (Salazar) for qualifying on Sunday," said A. J. Foyt, Salazar's car owner. "If he gets the primary car into the race without any problems, then we'll put Donnie Beechler in the backup car and try to qualify him too. But my main concern is to get Eliseo in the race."

Notes:

John Paul Jr. took seven reconnaissance laps around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the No. 81 car. It was his first time on the speedway.

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Della Penna Racing is holding an auction at their Indianapolis shop next week, May 22, 23 and 24. The auction includes everything from race ready cars to racing memorabilia. Visit Della Penna's website at www.dellapenna.com for more details.

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A racing memorabilia auction featuring items from Simpson Race Products, Bell Helmets, PacWest Racing, Bradley Motorsports and Reynard will be held at the Wayne Township Fire Department training facility on Saturday, May 25 starting at 9:00 am.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Robbie Buhl , Billy Boat , Scott Goodyear , Raul Boesel , Donnie Beechler , John Paul , A.J. Foyt