IRL: Ray leads Richmond testing

RAY REACHES 164 MPH TO LEAD RICHMOND TESTING RICHMOND, Va., Thursday, May 31, 2001 - Greg Ray turned a lap of 164 mph under the lights at Richmond International Raceway to lead private Indy Racing Northern Light Series testing at the track May...

RAY REACHES 164 MPH TO LEAD RICHMOND TESTING

RICHMOND, Va., Thursday, May 31, 2001 - Greg Ray turned a lap of 164 mph under the lights at Richmond International Raceway to lead private Indy Racing Northern Light Series testing at the track May 30. 1999 Indy Racing champion Ray and Mark Dismore each turned a top lap of 16.5 seconds at 163.636 mph earlier in the day. Ray, Dismore, series points leader Sam Hornish Jr., Robbie Buhl and 2001 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter Scott Sharp each turned laps on the ¾-mile oval in preparation for the SunTrust Indy Challenge on June 30 at RIR. The night race will be the first event in Indy Racing League history contested on a track shorter than 1 mile. Hornish was third on the speed chart with a top lap of 16.67, 161.968 in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone during the afternoon. Buhl was next during the afternoon at 16.9, 159.763 in the No. 24 Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold G Force/Infiniti/Firestone with Sharp putting in a top lap of 17.53, 154.022 in just 43 laps of work in the No. 8 Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Dismore led all drivers with 145 laps in the No. 28 Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, followed by Hornish with 120.

The short, D-shaped oval at Richmond requires a new driving style, said 1999 Indy Racing champion Ray, driver of the No. 2 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. "We are struggling with the car, and we're really driving the wheels off of these things," Ray said. "We're not used to sliding these things and wheeling them around, so you have to be precise to be really fast. The fact that it's new and we are all learning is exciting for us." Ray's unofficial speed was faster than the top lap of the Indy Racing League Open Test on April 20 at the track, 160.753 by defending series champion Buddy Lazier. The official track record is 131.374 mph, set by Randy Tolsma in 1996 in a USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet Series race. "This is going to be an action-packed place to run," Sharp said. "Things are moving fast when you come off of turns 2 and 4, so I can't imagine what it is going to be like with 26 other cars out there. I think the fans will be impressed.

"The cars sound great, they look fast, they are fast. We'll probably be about 30-40 mph faster than the Winston Cup cars here. With all the downforce we have, we'll have the potential to be side-by-side in the corners and to dart in and out of the holes. There is going to be a lot of action. "It'll be like a big pack of swarming bees that can also move around." The two-day private test ends May 31 at the track.

SAM HORNISH JR.: "I think it is going to be a very exciting race. The track is going to be very busy. It's very busy when you are out there by yourself, let alone with 25 other cars. I ran 50 laps (during the first afternoon session) and man, it went by pretty fast. The race is 250 laps, so that's going to go by pretty quickly. The fans will see a lot of different pit-stop strategies because of the fact that the tires are pretty hard. We'll be trying to figure out how far we can go on the tires and how much fuel you can put in the cars, kind of like NASCAR did at Bristol this year. It's a tight track, and you are going to need a car that will be good when you move it all over the track. You'll need a good-handling car that you can take up high or keep taking down low. The fans will see a lot of close, side-by-side racing. Having these cars bump at 220 mph is not something we like to do, but with how close the racing will be here, you may see some of that. It is going to be very exciting."

ROBBIE BUHL: "We didn't lean on it, (during the first afternoon session), but it is going to be an exciting race, there is no two ways about it. For us to leave Indianapolis three days ago and come here to a tight, ¾-mile track is two extremes. It looks like it is going to be fun. It is going to be challenging. It is a little bumpy, but I think that will make for more excitement in terms of how guys get their cars working. There will be a lot of tradeoffs (for the setup). I think it is exciting for us to be running at a track that is under a mile. A mile has always been the shortest we've raced on. Visually, (standing in the infield) it looks bigger than ¾ of a mile, but the corners come up quick, and they are tight. It's going to be a great show. There will be attrition mechanically as well as attrition from cars getting together. There will be sparks flying. We'll be doing 16-second laps around here, so it is going to be a busy place and fun to watch."

GREG RAY: "It's fun here. It has a nice, homey, racy feel to it. It's a different style from what we're used to. We're not really sure what to expect, but already, everybody has a big smile on their faces. The mechanics, drivers - everybody - we got off of the track and we looked at each other and said: 'That's pretty cool. This is going to be a great race.' We are struggling with the car, and we're really driving the wheels off of these things. We're not used to sliding these things and wheeling them around, so you have to be precise to be really fast. The fact that it's new and we are all learning is exciting for us."

SCOTT SHARP: "We finally got a few laps in. This is going to be an action-packed place to run. Things are moving fast when you come off of turns 2 and 4, so I can't imagine what it is going to be like with 26 other cars out there. I think the fans will be impressed. The cars sound great, they look fast, they are fast. We'll probably be about 30-40 mph faster than the Winston Cup cars here. With all the downforce we have, we'll have the potential to be side-by-side in the corners and to dart in and out of the holes. There is going to be a lot of action. It'll be like a big pack of swarming bees that can also move around."

MARK DISMORE: "Richmond is a fun, challenging track. It's a bullring, that's for sure. You need to be in shape here because of all of the turns that come up so quickly. Otherwise, this place will wear you out quickly. If you have a guy that is not in very good shape, he is going to fade fast. My advice to anybody that is coming here is that they had better go work out. Qualifying is during the day, so we wanted to get a feel this afternoon how fast we could go. We didn't put all of the cards on the table today, but we got a feel for it. We're just trying to learn as much as we can as quick as we can."

-IRNLS/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Robbie Buhl , Buddy Lazier , Scott Sharp , Mark Dismore , Randy Tolsma , Sam Hornish Jr.