IRL: Orlando Practice Story

David Reininger and Ken Plotkin - motorsport.com Stephan Gregoire set the fastest lap in practice for Saturday's Delphi 200 at the Walt Disney World Speedway today. After setting second fastest time in this morning's practice session, Gregoire...

David Reininger and Ken Plotkin - motorsport.com

Stephan Gregoire set the fastest lap in practice for Saturday's Delphi 200 at the Walt Disney World Speedway today. After setting second fastest time in this morning's practice session, Gregoire ripped off a lap at 169. 284 mph late in the afternoon session to top the day's speed charts. His afternoon lap was nearly a full mile an hour faster than his morning best.

Gregoire, driver of the Mexmil Dick Simon Racing G Force, had his dashboard malfunction during his run, causing him to rely on his pits for information on the car.

"I didn't know my lap time when I was running," said Gregoire. "So when they told me, I was stunned. I'm really, really happy. I'm really impressed with how fast we went because I wasn't driving that hard."

Reigning Indy Racing League Champion, Greg Ray, driving the Conseco Team Menard Dallara, set the fastest lap in this morning's session. His lap at 168.761 mph was fast enough to end the day second, just one tenth of a second behind Gregoire.

"It's different than last year," said Ray. "We drove the same car from 1997, 1998 and 1999. It's like sitting on your couch at home, being comfortable in your living room and watching TV, and then getting a new couch with a rearranged living room and having to adjust to your new surroundings. It's new for everybody. I'm just trying to get comfortable in the car."

Ray will have a 40 minute practice session on Friday morning before setting is sights on the pole for Saturday's Delphi 200

Third fastest, driving the Delphi Automotive Kelley Racing Dallara, was Scott Sharp. Sharp's best lap, at 167.942 mph, was set in the morning session.

"Overall, we had a good day," Sharp said. We were faster than I thought we would be. We did a lot of fine-tuning on the car. We got real loose in the afternoon session, and we had to make adjustments to get the car back to where it should be. I'm very pleased at the moment with the team.

Late in the afternoon session, Sharp managed to get within a half a mile an hour of his morning speed.

The 2000 Riley & Scott chassis showed that it would be a force to be reckoned with as Buddy Lazier turned in a lap at 167.442 mph in the new chassis, to capture the day's fourth fastest speed.

"We're excited," exclaimed Lazier. "We got our car late but we've made a lot of gains. When we have more time to test, we'll catch up. The whole field looks to be really tight this year."

Jeret Schroeder was the fastest rookie today. Schroeder, who was sixth fastest in this morning's session, missed the day's top ten by three one-thousandths of a second. "I think we're all right," said the rookie driver from Vineland, NJ. "We still don't know which car we'll run in the race, but we did all right in the '99 car against all those 2000 cars."

With temperatures in the low forties this morning, Indy Racing League officials decided to delay today's morning session until track temperatures rose. "It was more the weather holding us back this morning than anything else," said Schroeder. "You really had to be careful and get your tires heated up."

In the day's only mishap, John Hollansworth backed his Lycos Team Xtreme G Force into the wall after a spin in turn one. Hollansworth had 58 laps on his tires and had just made and aerodynamic change to the car on is previous pit stop.

"We did not have many miles in testing," Hollansworth said after the accident. "The car felt good. We wanted to get a better time and adjusted the car. We got loose in turn one and did a slow come-around."

Hollansworth was unhurt in the incident but the car suffered heavy damage to the right rear. The team rolled out a brand new chassis for tomorrow. "We will change back to the previous setup and look to be strong in tomorrow's qualifying".

Qualifying for the Delphi 200 at the Walt Disney World Speedway gets underway at 12:30 P.M. EST on Friday, January 28. Television coverage of qualifying will be provided by ESPN2 at 1:30 P.M. on Friday, January 28.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Buddy Lazier , Stephan Gregoire , Scott Sharp , Jeret Schroeder , Dick Simon
Teams Team Xtreme