De Ferran leads Friday'S Firestone Indy 225 practice NAZARETH, Pa., Friday, April 19, 2002 -- Gil de Ferran turned the fastest lap April 19 at Nazareth Speedway in practice for the Indy Racing League's inaugural Firestone Indy 225 at Nazareth ...
De Ferran leads Friday'S Firestone Indy 225 practice
NAZARETH, Pa., Friday, April 19, 2002 -- Gil de Ferran turned the fastest lap April 19 at Nazareth Speedway in practice for the Indy Racing League's inaugural Firestone Indy 225 at Nazareth Speedway.
de Ferran, who won the 2000 CART event at Nazareth, lapped the 1-mile oval at 19.8457 seconds, 169.512 mph in his No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone in the morning practice session. He completed 110 laps, the most of any driver.
Twenty-four drivers completed 2,079 laps during the day. Ambient temperatures were in the 80's most of the day with track temperatures more than 115 degrees in the afternoon session. However, the weather forecast calls for temperatures to drop dramatically throughout the weekend with race day temperatures expected to be in the 60's.
"A car that handles well in the heat usually handles well in the cold," said de Ferran. "It makes it more complicated for all of the engineers and everybody involved because the conditions keep changing. It's certainly going to put some extra emphasis on the decision-making process of all the engineers and the teams, but it's the same for everybody, and it makes it somewhat interesting and complex."
Jaques Lazier was second fastest at 169.398 mph in his No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone followed by Alex Barron in the No. 44 RAYOVAC/Blair Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.
Barron won a Toyota Atlantics race at Nazareth in 1997. Earlier in the week, Blair Racing acquired primary sponsorship from RAYOVAC batteries for the remainder of the season.
"This couldn't be better timing for us to make a big leap to the front," said Barron. "We had a pretty good test here a couple of weeks ago. I've been here a couple two or three times, so I have a lot of confidence going around the track."
Scott Sharp and John de Vries were involved in the only two accidents of the day. In the afternoon session, Sharp spun exiting Turn 4 but continued on to the pits. In the morning session, de Vries also spun in Turn 4 and made light contact with the wall in his No. 37 Pit Bull Energy Drink/Rhino Cleaning Products Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone. de Vries was released from the infield care center with no injuries.
"I came out of Turn 3 and got out of the throttle a bit quicker than I wanted to and the rear end just got loose," said de Vries. "It definitely hurts us since I'm one of the few drivers who has never tested at this track, but the team definitely has it's work cut out for them trying to get us ready for the race."
Indy Racing League practice continues at 9 a.m. (EDT) April 20, followed by MBNA Pole Qualifying at 11:30 a.m. The Firestone Indy 225 at Nazareth Speedway will take place April 21 at 1 p.m. (EDT). It will be televised on live on ABC.