MIAMI (January 25, 2001) -- Buddy Lazier had only one big goal in testing for the first time at Homestead-Miami Speedway -- to be able to come back and win the April 6-8 Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami, the debut of Indy Racing in South ...
MIAMI (January 25, 2001) -- Buddy Lazier had only one big goal in testing for the first time at Homestead-Miami Speedway -- to be able to come back and win the April 6-8 Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami, the debut of Indy Racing in South Florida.
"That's the only reason we're coming here, to win, and if we can't win, to score as many points as we can for the championship," said Lazier, the 2000 Indy Racing champion. "I think we're going to be in good shape. We were just warming up, and we were already turning competitive times."
Lazier has five consecutive top-10 finishes in the Indianapolis 500, including a victory in 1996 and seconds in 1998 and 2000. The 33-year-old Colorado native ran a fast lap of 26.97 seconds (200.222 mph), second only in testing to Scott Sharp's lap of 26.95/200.444 mph. But running a fast lap was not the reason Lazier came to test.
"Testing is not about speed," he explained. "You're making a big mistake if all you do is test to get the ultimate lap. This is about learning, documenting certain technical changes and data, so that when you come back, you can make the right choices."
That doesn't mean that Lazier won't be gunning for the MBNA Pole in time trials on Saturday, April 7.
"I'd just as soon start up front," Lazier said, "but in this series, sitting on the pole is not an advantage. It's a long race, and all the cars are very equal, so you're not going to win the race from where you start. You're going to have a whole field that's bunched up, and you're going to see a lot of wheel to wheel racing. I think that Miami is going to love the race, it's going to be very exciting."
Lazier has visited Homestead-Miami Speedway as a spectator, but the three-day test was his first actual time on the 1.5-mile oval. "This track is wonderful," he said. "It took me a while to get used to the blue walls, but the track's really smooth, and it's going to be a real driving and handling racetrack. It's going to be tricky racetrack to get a handle on. The way the wind hits you coming out of turn one also caught me by surprise. "It's a great facility," Lazier added. "The fans can see all the action from the stands, and it doesn't look like there's a single bad seat in the house." Lazier will be looking to win when he returns to race in April. But he also feels that South Florida will be winners with Indy Racing. "It's the series of the future," he said. "You're looking at the same cars and drivers that compete in the Indianapolis 500. We're contesting the million dollar Northern Lights Cup, and the series is very, very competitive. This is an American-based series that's very exciting for the fans, you never know who's going to win. I believe it's the open-wheel series of the future." Tickets are now on sale for the Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami, the debut of Indy Racing in South Florida, by calling (305) 230-RACE, or may be ordered on-line at www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com.