IRL: Phoenix testing 97-02-28

For Immediate Release RECORD SPEED ENDS THE "TEST IN THE WEST" PHOENIX, Friday, February 28, 1997 -- A total of 24 drivers took part in the Indy Racing League's "Test in the West" this week at Phoenix International Raceway completing 4477...

For Immediate Release

RECORD SPEED ENDS THE "TEST IN THE WEST"

PHOENIX, Friday, February 28, 1997 -- A total of 24 drivers took part in the Indy Racing League's "Test in the West" this week at Phoenix International Raceway completing 4477 miles during five days.

"I was extremely pleased with the test," said IRL Executive Director Leo Mehl, "It was a big rush for everybody to get ready for the Indy 200 at Walt Disney World and since then you can see a vast improvement in the organization and preparation of all the teams. They have had time to concentrate on some of the details and the progress is very visible. I look forward to an exciting race in Phoenix and feel very good about the preparation for the Indianapolis 500."

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Scott Sharp drove the Conseco AJ Foyt car to 170.777 miles per hour, (21.08 seconds) at 11:56 a.m. after only 31 laps of testing, breaking his own fastest lap record in the new IRL cars of 21.09 seconds set during Wednesday's "Test in the West". Sharp's teammate Davey Hamilton talked about his own preparations this week for the March 21-23 $1 Million Plus Phoenix 200.

DAVEY HAMILTON: "We had some good times early in the week, like on Wednesday the car felt great. Unfortunately the last two days haven't been as good but we made some major changes with the car to try and improve it and it definitely did not improve it, so we need to put the set-up back on it that we had on Wednesday and I think the car will be good." (Differences between the G Force and the Dallara chassis): "All I can go off is what Scott has been saying and they are definitely comparable cars. We will definitely have both chassis here for the race, which one I get in I don't know yet, but I definitely will have a chance to get in one (a G Force)."

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IRL rookie and sprint car veteran Dave Blaney was first on the track when it opened for the final day of testing at 10:30 a.m. Blaney completed the third and fourth phases of the USAC drivers test at the Desert Mile and then tested for team Menard during the final day of the "Test in the West". Blaney participated in rookie orientation at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in June of 1996 and had completed all but five laps in his fourth phase of rookie orientation when his engine blew, ending his rookie test early. Blaney and Billy Boat are both campaigning to drive a second car for Team Menard. Team manager Larry Curry said they would have a decision by early next week.

DAVE BLANEY: "I haven't had much experience at this type of driving. I have to figure out how to drive it (the car) right. It feels tight to me, but I'm sure that's just the way I'm driving it. We're going to go back to the garage and take a look at some information, make some changes and go back out there."

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Defending IRL Phoenix 200 champion and Scottsdale resident Arie Luyendyk was sixth quick for the last day of practice at the "Test in the West". Luyendyk was the first driver to test the new IRL cars at Phoenix International Raceway in November of 1996.

ARIE LUYENDYK: "We're struggling to find the right set-up, we were struggling down in Orlando and we're still struggling here. I believe we will find it, I have all the confidence in the world in this team." (Differences between last year's cars and the new IRL cars): "They (the new IRL cars) have less horsepower, reduced downforce and are about seventy pounds heavier. The one thing about these cars is you have to use less brake going into the turns because the speeds are reduced. We will be back to test here next week."

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IRL rookies Darrin Miller and Pat Abold completed all four phases of USAC rookie orientation in the PDM '93 Lola/Menard during the final day of testing at Phoenix International Raceway.

TOP UNOFFICIAL TIMES FROM USAC TIMING AND SCORING

CAR DRIVER CAR NAME C/E/T LAPS TIME SPEED 1T Scott Sharp Conseco AJ Foyt Racing G/A/G 58 21.08 170.777 2T Tony Stewart Glidden/Menard/Special G/A/F 22 21.31 168.934 2T R Dave Blaney Glidden/Menard/Special G/A/F 83 21.71 165.822 51 Eddie Cheever, Jr. FirstPlus Team Cheever G/A/G 69 21.75 165.517 14 Davey Hamilton AJ Foyt/Power Team Racing D/A/G 55 21.88 164.533 5 Arie Luyendyk Treadway Racing/WavePhore G/A/F 78 22.04 163.339 6 Scott Goodyear Treadway Racing/NORTEL G/A/F 22 22.11 162.822 77 Stephan Gregoire Miller-Eads Co./Chastain G/A/G 21 22.64 159.010 16 R Sam Schmidt Blueprint Racing D/A/F 47 22.69 158.660 40 R Jack Miller AMS/Crest Racing D/I/F 9 shake down *18 R Darrin Miller PDM Racing 93/L/M/G 83 23.31 154.440 *18 R Pat Abold PDM Racing 93/L/M/G 57 23.42 153.714 *Driver's Test Conditions. Chassis Legend: D-Dallara; G-G Force Engine Legend: A-Oldsmobile Aurora; I-Nissan Infiniti Tire Legend: F-Firestone; G-Goodyear

...97TEST-31...

For ticket information to the March 21-23 $1 Million-Plus Indy Racing League Phoenix 200 call 602/252-2227

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Eddie Cheever , Stephan Gregoire , Davey Hamilton , Scott Sharp , Arie Luyendyk , Billy Boat , Scott Goodyear , Sam Schmidt , Dave Blaney , Jack Miller