IRL: Phoenix Test: Day two report

Dixon Dominates Day Two at Phoenix Test AVONDALE, Ariz., Thursday, Feb. 12, 2004, Scott Dixon dominated the final day of the IRL IndyCar® Series Open Test at Phoenix International Raceway leading both sessions at the 1-mile oval. Dixon, the...

Dixon Dominates Day Two at Phoenix Test

AVONDALE, Ariz., Thursday, Feb. 12, 2004, Scott Dixon dominated the final day of the IRL IndyCar® Series Open Test at Phoenix International Raceway leading both sessions at the 1-mile oval.

Dixon, the 2003 IndyCar Series champion, lapped the track in 20.1438 seconds, 178.715 mph in the No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone in the morning session and backed that up with a lap of 20.2732, 177.574 in the afternoon session.

The three-fastest laps of the day were all in the morning session as Marlboro Team Penske's Sam Hornish Jr., and Helio Castroneves posted the second- and third-best laps, respectively.

Hornish's best lap was 20.1993, 178.224 in the Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, slightly faster than Castroneves, whose best lap was 20.2969, 177.367.

In other IndyCar Series news, Kelley Racing confirmed the addition of three-time IndyCar® Series Most Popular Driver Sarah Fisher to the team. Details on the program and its sponsors will be released at a later date.


BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Pioneer/Argent Mortgage Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "We finally got in a full day, close to 250 laps. Unfortunately, we were a day behind after the trouble we had on Wednesday. It was a tough day for Team Rahal on Wednesday. Today was much better. We tried a lot of things with the car. Plus, we practiced pit stops and long fuel runs. I still wish we had another day, but this team is very professional. They went about their business and worked on the program they had projected. Now we'll have to get ready for Homestead and PIR. It's nice to run near home."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It is nice to be back on a short oval. The Klein Tools/Jim Beam car is improving with every run. One thing that you learn on these short ovals is how important the race setup is. My teammates and engineers have helped me to improve on these tracks, and we are trying to find the best possible setup for the race. When we come back here next month, we have a very limited amount of track time, so everything we learned here these past two days will help us."

BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We've made some improvements on the car throughout the test, especially on the race setup. I would like to have more speed for a qualifying run, though. I think with the new rules, you're going to have to qualify at the front because it is going to be difficult to pass. When we ran with all four of the AGR cars together, we gained a lot of data. All of us were running different setups, so we were able to find a lot of positives and negatives. It was an interesting exercise for us, and I think you'll see a lot of that from us this year."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Archipelago Exchange(ArcaEx) Dallara/Honda/ Firestone: "It was an interesting couple of days because the track changed a lot, not just from one day to the next but from one hour to the next, so we spent some time chasing the track. But, we got a good bit of work covered. Hopefully what we've discovered will work for us when we come back here to race in March. I think we're getting there overall. Both of our tests have been very beneficial, but I'm sure the practice days for any of our races are going to be pretty busy no matter how much running we've done there."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): "We're a little better today than we were yesterday. We sat down last night and tried to work out what the majority of our problems were. It's good to see Darren (Manning) moved up as well, because he was really struggling with his car. I wouldn't say we're overly happy. We still have a lot of work to do. The car isn't too terribly strong. It's a lot of hard work, because last year we had the speed, and the car wasn't too bad to drive." (About the level of competition in the IndyCar® Series): "I think it's going to be a little more difficult. As you can see, the times are really more spread. The good teams were quite a step ahead the others, which is good for the racing, but in some ways, passing may be a little more difficult. I think you'll see the same teams up front, and it will be very close." (About the aero package): "They've taken so much adjustment out of the cars. You don't have a lot to work with. I think if you can have the option to go out there with more downforce than the other guy or less, it creates better racing. At the moment, you've got what you've got. I think it should be more wide open. Here, it will probably spread us out. On the bigger circuits, it will be good, but here, it may be harder to pass."

SAM HORNISH (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I'm real happy with the car. The Marlboro Team Penske guys worked on basically getting the car in qualifying trim this morning and race trim in the afternoon. We're real happy with the way the car handled this afternoon. We'll just see what happens. It's always a guessing game until it's time to go race." (About the new aerodynamic package): "I think that running in packs is great, but there's a point where it's too much. There were several real good races last year where there were six or seven guys in contention and had great passing. I think these rules will allow for more like that this year. It's fun when you can run close to five or six guys, but when you have to run with 25 guys, it's kind of nerve-wracking."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "We made great strides with the Pennzoil car as the day progressed, and we explored a number of changes with the new car. Andy Brown (chief engineer) and David Cripps (race engineer) almost seemed to read my mind at times. We have a strong car that's capable of winning here at Phoenix International Raceway. It was a very good test for us."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "This morning, we seemed to be going well. The good news is that we discovered everything not to do with our cars. It's good to get that out of the way. I guess those Open Tests, that's what we need them for -- to spend time and try a lot of things to make sure that on race weekend, when you make a change, that change will be the right one." (About the new aero package): "I do believe there's a little bit of a lack of downforce. Sometimes it's a struggle for everyone to go flat out between (Turns) 3 and 4, which for us, in the past, used to be a piece of cake. Now you do have to think a little bit when you are approaching that corner and trying to go flat out. It might be harder, and quite obviously, it slowed down the cars. If we didn't do that, we'd probably be at 19 (second laps) right now. We'll be competitive."

MARK TAYLOR (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Panther Racing Dallara/ Chevrolet/Firestone): "It was good to have a couple more days in the Menards/Johns Manville car. I'm comfortable with all the changes and the new setups we tried today. We've gained ground each time we've been out, and we've continued to gain confidence in each other. We're really looking forward to racing here in March."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It's been a good week. We're learning, and it's still early. We struggled a little bit with the setup at the beginning of the test, but it's a new (track) configuration and a new aero package. We just need to get used to it. We might not have looked as fast as we wanted to, but we're working towards the race setup. That's the most important. The changes to the racetrack are very positive. They put in a tunnel, they've got "soft walls" (SAFER Barrier) all around, and the exit of Turn 2 is wider. It's a big improvement. It's great to see people put so much effort into making a place better. I can only say congratulations to the staff at PIR for the work they've done."


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon , Chip Ganassi , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing