IRL: New tradition added to annual 'Test in the West'

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2002 - A new chapter will be added to the growing tradition of the annual Indy Racing League Test in the West this year, as teams will turn laps at California Speedway for the first time in addition to testing at...

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2002 - A new chapter will be added to the growing tradition of the annual Indy Racing League Test in the West this year, as teams will turn laps at California Speedway for the first time in addition to testing at Phoenix International Raceway.

It's an interesting blend of something old and something new, all wrapped up into a five-day period in early February.

The seventh annual Indy Racing League Test in the West will start with a preseason Media Day on Feb. 5 at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif., followed by a full day of testing there Feb. 6. It will be the first chance for many Indy Racing teams to test on the 2-mile oval, which will play host to an Indy Racing event for the first time March 24.

After a travel day Feb. 7, two days of testing will take place at Phoenix International Raceway on Feb. 8-9. The 1-mile desert oval is a familiar site to nearly every Indy Racing team, as it has played host to the Test in the West and an Indy Racing event every year since 1996. The Indy Racing League will compete for the seventh consecutive year March 17 at PIR.

This is only the second time that the Test in the West is split between two venues. In 2000, testing took place Feb. 21-22 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Feb. 25-26 at PIR. The annual test has taken place solely at PIR every other year.

Testing at California and Phoenix this year will provide teams with an excellent chance to try varying chassis and engine setups, as the two tracks are nearly polar opposites.

California is a wide, smooth D-shaped oval where speeds will exceed 220 mph, putting slippery aerodynamics and sheer horsepower at a premium. Phoenix is a tight, asymmetrical oval with its famous "dogleg" on the backstretch, where chassis setup, handling and acceleration out of the corners are crucial.

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