INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (March 7, 2003)--The Kelley Racing team is hoping that their final pre-race test at Phoenix International Raceway will not be indicative of their luck at the upcoming race to be held there on March 23. The team had scheduled...
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (March 7, 2003)--The Kelley Racing team is hoping that their final pre-race test at Phoenix International Raceway will not be indicative of their luck at the upcoming race to be held there on March 23. The team had scheduled a two-day test with Al Unser Jr., driver of the No. 31 Corteco entry, scheduled to test a full day on Thursday, March 6 and Scott Sharp, driver of the No. 8 Delphi entry, scheduled to test the second full day on Friday, March 7. Regrettably, problems kept the team from fully completing either test day.
On Thursday, the No. 31 Corteco/Dallara/Toyota/Firestone team got off to a good start and driver Al Unser Jr. was pleased with the progress being made. Unfortunately, there were some problems with the No. 31 car so the team switched to teammate Scott Sharp's No. 8 machine to complete the final hours of the test. "It was a good test," said Unser Jr. "We did have to cut it short because of a few problems, but it was definitely worthwhile to come out here and test." Unser Jr. was able to get through a good portion of the teams' test plan and is looking forward to returning at the end of the month for the Purex Dial Indy 200. "I learned a lot about the Corteco car and I think we've really helped our racecar. We went just as fast as we did in the Test in the West and I think we're still making improvements. I'm really looking forward to the race in Phoenix, it's like a hometown event for me."
Unser Jr.'s teammate Scott Sharp took over driving duties on Friday in his No. 8 Delphi/Dallara/Toyota/Firestone car and unfortunately, his day also ended short. Sharp had run most of the morning, completing 60 laps on the 1-mile oval. Sharp had been pleased with the momentum of the test but just after the lunch break, Sharp backed the No. 8 car into the Turn 1 wall. Sharp was uninjured but there was not enough time left in the test day to make the needed repairs to the car. "We don't know what happened yet," Sharp explained. "It was very early in the corner and the rear of the car just abruptly snapped around. Of course I'm really disappointed," he continued. "The Delphi team has been working so hard and after just coming out of Miami with a decent finish of fifth place we really had good momentum starting this test. But I know this team will rebound and I'm confident we'll be in good shape when we return to Phoenix at the end of the month for the race."
Vice president of racing operations, Steve Newey, managed the test for Kelley Racing and although he is disappointed, he feels the team will definitely be ready for the upcoming race. "Unfortunately, the test didn't go according to plan," he explained. "Both Al and Scott have been pushing themselves really hard, as have the whole Corteco and Delphi teams. We did have a good open test here in February, so I'm confident we'll regroup for the race and be ready to go come March 23."
The Kelley Racing team will now return to Indianapolis to prepare for their second race, The Purex Dial Indy 200, which will take place March 23 at Phoenix International Speedway. The race will be broadcast on ABC and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network.