SPEEDWAY, Ind., (May 9, 2001) - Tony Stewart drove his Target/Home Depot G-Force Aurora to a top speed of 225.004 mph to post the second-quickest speed of the day in practice for the 85th Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was...
SPEEDWAY, Ind., (May 9, 2001) - Tony Stewart drove his Target/Home Depot G-Force Aurora to a top speed of 225.004 mph to post the second-quickest speed of the day in practice for the 85th Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was his biggest gain yet in three days of practice at the legendary 2.5-mile oval.
"That was a good speed for us today, considering where we were at the end of yesterday," said Stewart, whose best speed on Tuesday was 221.810 mph, 11th best. "We came out this morning and made some adjustments, but we really felt like we went backwards with those changes. So we came back in and had a little powwow and decided on a couple of bigger changes. The car responded really well, and we came back in and made another big change. Sure enough, it was in the right direction. We're definitely gaining ground on this deal.
"That's the fastest I've gone in these new cars. I know that from listening to other guys when they talk about their wing angles and their overall setup that we're a little on the conservative side. But you still have to be able to get around here without lifting, and I'm cracking the throttle a little bit in a couple of spots. That's probably for my own security more than anything, but I'm real happy with the way everything is going. We made a monumental jump today compared to where we were, and I think the next couple of days will be just as productive."
That could spell trouble for Stewart's competitors, as two more days of practice loom before MBNA Pole Qualifying on Saturday.
"The credit goes to the guys that are working on these race cars," said Stewart. "They had to make some really big changes and adjustments this afternoon that were very time consuming. The guys at Chip Ganassi Racing have built great race cars for us. But they're still not afraid to change anything, and it seemed like we changed everything today at one time or another. That's what got us to where we are."
Stewart's teammate, Jimmy Vasser, was no slouch either. He posted the seventh quickest speed - 222.907 mph.
"Jimmy and I talked a lot about how our cars felt and we relayed that to our engineers. It seems like Jimmy's feel and my feel for these race cars are pretty accurate. It certainly worked out for us today," added Stewart.
Just as his speed has improved over the course of three days of practice, so too has Stewart's relationship with the members of Chip Ganassi Racing.
"We made a lot of changes today and they paid off," said Stewart. "That makes me feel good as a driver to know that the team has enough confidence in me to evaluate what I'm feeling, and have the confidence in the changes that I'm wanting to make also. To be honest, I never even tried to put myself in that position with any of the other IRL teams that I drove for. We all kind of stood around here today and scratched our heads saying, 'There's something we're missing here. We just don't know what it is.' But Jimmy and I talked quite a bit and we knew that we needed to go in a certain direction. The team had the confidence in each of our inputs to make some changes, and here we are today second quickest."
Nipping Stewart for fast time honors was Scott Sharp, who wheeled his Dallara Aurora to an average speed of 226.137 mph.
Practice begins anew tomorrow at 12 p.m. EDT.
-Home Depot Racing-