IRL: Kanaan closes Test in the West with fastest Phoenix lap

AVONDALE, Ariz., Saturday, Feb. 8, 2003 -- Tony Kanaan led the final day of the Test in the West on Feb. 8 with the fastest lap in two days of IRL IndyCar Series testing at Phoenix International Raceway. IndyCar Series newcomer Kanaan turned a...

AVONDALE, Ariz., Saturday, Feb. 8, 2003 -- Tony Kanaan led the final day of the Test in the West on Feb. 8 with the fastest lap in two days of IRL IndyCar Series testing at Phoenix International Raceway.

IndyCar Series newcomer Kanaan turned a top lap of 20.3639 seconds, 176.783 mph during the afternoon session in the No. 11 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Kanaan was fifth fastest Friday at Phoenix at 20.6348, 174.463 in the car fielded by Andretti Green Racing.

Tony Kanaan.
Photo by indyracing.com/Ron McQueeney.
"We have a really good car in both qualifying and race trim, and I'm very happy with the way everything went today," Kanaan said. "Michael (Andretti) would have been quick out there, too. When he had the (broken header) problem, he began working with me, and I can say that it really helped."

Scott Dixon was second today at 20.4261, 176.245, turned in the afternoon session in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone.

"It feels great to be right at the top of the speed chart," Dixon said. "We made a huge jump in speed this afternoon. We were struggling to find the right balance, so I gave my engineers an idea that had worked for me in the past.

"I can't say enough about the guys here at Team Target. We were getting a little frustrated because we knew that we could be fast here, and they stayed patient and focused. The Toyota engine has been really impressive this week, and I think we have a strong package for the season. It was a lot of fun out there today. Hopefully it will be like this when we come here for the race."

Marlboro Team Penske teammates Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves were third and fourth, respectively, with their top morning laps. de Ferran's best was 20.4484, 176.053 in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, while Castroneves maxed out at 20.5312, 175.343 in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone.

1998 IndyCar Series champion Kenny Brack rounded out the top five at 20.5387, 175.279, recorded in the morning in the No. 15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

Two-time defending series champion Sam Hornish Jr. was the fastest Chevrolet-powered driver, 12th at 20.8475, 172.683 in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.

Testing started 2 ? hours late because of morning rain. Nineteen drivers combined to complete 2,130 laps, with one incident.

Buddy Rice was unhurt and cleared to drive after hitting the outside retaining wall in Turn 2 in the No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone minutes before the scheduled end of the first session.

"We were just trying to do what we can, obviously, trying to be the fastest car here," Rice said. "We were just testing, being on the edge, just trying to work on it. Obviously, we stepped over the edge, made a small mistake and paid the price."

Today's testing ended the five-day Test in the West for the IndyCar Series and Infiniti Pro Series, which started Monday and Tuesday at California Speedway before moving to Phoenix for three days of testing starting Thursday.

"I'm very happy with the results of the Test in the West," said Brian Barnhart, Indy Racing League senior vice president of racing operations. "I'd like to thank Bill Miller of California Speedway, as well as Bryan Sperber of Phoenix International Raceway, for a very successful week. I'm very pleased with the on-track performances of our engines and gearboxes at both venues. There was extremely close competition as demonstrated by the results at both tracks.

"It bodes well for a very exciting season as we approach the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 at Miami-Homestead Speedway."

The season-opening Toyota Indy 300 is March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The Purex Dial Indy 200, the second race of the IRL IndyCar Series season, is scheduled for March 23 at Phoenix.

For ticket information for the season opener at Homestead-Miami, call (305) 230-RACE or visit www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com. For tickets to the Phoenix event, call (602) 252-2227 or visit www.phoenixintlraceway.com.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Kenny Brack , Buddy Rice , Chip Ganassi , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing