IRL: Indy500: Practice report 2001 May 9

By David Reininger - motorsport.com Indianapolis, IN (May 9, 2001) - Scott Sharp turned in the fastest lap of the event this afternoon after receiving a tow from Airton Dare around the 2.5-mile speedway. Sharp averaged 226.137 mph, nearly two ...

By David Reininger - motorsport.com

Indianapolis, IN (May 9, 2001) - Scott Sharp turned in the fastest lap of the event this afternoon after receiving a tow from Airton Dare around the 2.5-mile speedway. Sharp averaged 226.137 mph, nearly two miles per hour faster than his teammate Mark Dismore, who set the previous best lap of the event yesterday.

"Obviously that lap is a great number, but it's probably not too realistic," said Sharp. "I got a great tow from Airton Dare for the whole lap around."

"I went out on new tires and not a lot of fuel in the car. For a couple of laps I just couldn't get a window. I kept running into traffic and had to back off. Finally I got a little bit of a run going and caught Airton pretty quickly. I just kept the hammer down and ended up catching him pretty good down the front straightaway. He dragged me all the way around."

"I thought I might catch him going into (turn) three but I didn't, luckily. He carried me all the way back to the start finish line."

Sharp rebounded today after a blown engine on opening day and an electrical fire yesterday.

Tony Stewart moved to second on the speed charts when his last lap of the day was recorded at 225.004 mph. Stewart, who drives the Oldsmobile-powered Target car for CART team owner Chip Ganassi, had yet to crack into the top-ten on the speed charts in his first two days at the track.

"We had great speed for today since when we started this morning we were going backwards," Stewart said. "Jimmy (Vasser) and I stood around and scratched our heads, talked about what direction we needed to go and the team listened, and we gained a lot."

"Today was a monumental jump for our team. The credit goes to all the guys working on the car. After the pow-wow, we made big changes, and they really worked hard. I think a lot of the IRL regulars are sandbagging, and they are just teasing us now."

Greg Ray teased everyone by taking his Team Menard No. 2T car out for a total of seven laps today. His sixth lap, which averaged 223.848 mph, was good enough for third fastest of the day. Fifteen minutes after the initial green flag flew at 11:00 a.m. this morning, Ray was finished for the day.

Arie Luyendyk was another driver spending a limited amount of time on track. Luyendyk turned 36 laps with his best at 223.499 mph, fast enough for fourth on the day.

"We didn't get on the track unitl after 3 o'clock today because there were some damaged pieces from where I ran over debris from (Casey) Mears' accident (yesterday)," said Luyendyk, who, for three consecutive days, has been in the top-five on the speed charts. "I did a 221 (mph) lap with a setup that wasn't very comfortable. We made some changes late in the afternoon and that's when I did my best lap."

Jaques Lazier made his first appearance in the top-ten today, averaging 223.310 mph in his Jonathan Byrd's Cafeteria Team Extreme Oldsmobile-powered G Force. Lazier, the younger brother of 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier, was fifth fastest today.

"We did a lot of fine tuning, and it resulted in a great speed," said Lazier. "We've been consistent since from the first time we hit the track. Right now we are just trimming the car out. I don't know how much is left as far as speed."

"I'm really proud of the Byrd/Extreme Team. We've been together for three weeks and to be fifth fastest for today is amazing."

Robby Gordon was sixth fastest today, followed by Jimmy Vasser and Helio Castroneves. Gil de Ferran and Felipe Giaffone rounded out the top-ten.

Notes:

Casey Mears was released form Methodist Hospital at 8:15 p.m. last night. After being released he had dinner with his grandparents at Union Jack's where he reported being "a little stiff." Mears has yet to be cleared to drive but according to his team owner, Rick Galles, he expects to be back in the car by Friday if all goes well.

"I made a mistake yesterday, but I know what I did, so I can take that and use that knowledge when I get back into the car" said Mears. "Everyone keeps telling me that this place is all about patience, and I know that first hand now."

***

Johnny Rutherford toured the 2.5-mile circuit in Ray Harroun's 1911 Indy 500 winning Marmon Wasp this afternoon. Four time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears was scheduled to drive the ceremonial lap but a foot injury, which occurred during his racing career, kept him from driving the historic car. The throttle on the Marmon Wasp was in a position such that Mears was not able to place his foot correctly on the pedal.

***

The number of cars on track has increased each day. There were 38 cars on track during opening day. On Monday the number increased to 39. Forty five cars were on track yesterday.

Sixty three cars are now at the Speedway, and 55 have passed technical inspection.

***

Tony Stewart will compete in the USAC Midget series on Friday, May 11 at the Kentucky Speedway. He will drive a car prepared by chassis builder Bob East. After the race, Stewart will sign autographs for a short time before returning to Indianapolis that evening.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Robby Gordon , Greg Ray , Felipe Giaffone , Casey Mears , Scott Sharp , Arie Luyendyk , Airton Daré , Mark Dismore , Gil de Ferran , Jimmy Vasser , Jaques Lazier  , Chip Ganassi , Johnny Rutherford