IRL: Richmond: Thursday Open Test notes

HORNISH QUICKEST IN OPEN TEST AT RICHMOND RICHMOND, Va., Thursday, June 22, 2006 -- Sam Hornish Jr. paced the IndyCar Series' first Open Test held in conjunction with a race weekend as teams prepared for the SunTrust Indy Challenge presented by...


RICHMOND, Va., Thursday, June 22, 2006 -- Sam Hornish Jr. paced the IndyCar Series' first Open Test held in conjunction with a race weekend as teams prepared for the SunTrust Indy Challenge presented by XM Satellite Radio.

The Indianapolis 500 winner set the fastest time of the day, 15.7520 seconds, 171.407 mph in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Honda-powered Dallara. Hornish, though, brought an early end to the session when he made moderate contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 4 with the right side of his car. He was uninjured in the accident.

Andretti Green Racing teammates Marco Andretti and Tony Kanaan were just behind with laps of 15.9466, 169.315 mph and 15.9563, 169.212 mph, respectively.

Scott Sharp (168.674 mph) and Dario Franchitti (168.569 mph) rounded out the top five.

A total of 2,058 laps were turned with Eddie Cheever Jr. recording 155 laps, the most of the 19 drivers who participated in the four-hour test.


Target Chip Ganassi Racing hopes a special paint scheme pays off for the second time this month.

Dan Wheldon will use a special paint scheme this weekend to promote Nicoderm CQ. Wheldon's #10 Honda-powered Dallara will be primarily blue with green and white accents. Scott Dixon used a one-off paint scheme to promote Energizer batteries earlier this month when he won at Watkins Glen.


Bryan Herta spent the morning at Richmond International Raceway in his bus watching the U.S. vs. Ghana World Cup soccer match.

In the closing minutes of the first half, Ghana scored the winning goal on a penalty kick just before the half. Regarding the penalty that was called against the U.S.'s Oguchi Onyewu, Herta said, "That was the biggest hose job of the tournament so far."

Dario Franchitti was late for an afternoon press conference because he also was watching the game.

"That's why I'm late," Franchitti said. "I'm from Scotland. I'm used to getting beaten in the World Cup."


Races can be won or lost just as easily off the track as they are on the track. No place is that more true than Richmond International Raceway, where IndyCar Series machines turn laps in 16 seconds.

"Being a short track, it's very difficult, very physical, very demanding on the car," 2004 IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan. "Your probability to have yellows is pretty high, so you can actually play a little bit on your strategy. I would not like to have that. I would like to have a good car. Once you're in the front, there's not a lot you can gamble off. You have to drive your race and try to win. You will see a window open for a lot of people, and you might not see the strongest car or the fastest car win just because they have the better strategy.


Of note: The Indy Racing Experience 2-seater was turning laps around the .75-mile oval in approximately 21.7 seconds. The NASCAR Cup track record is 21.1 seconds at Richmond. -- Japanese driver Kosuke Matsuura was the victim of a prank by some of the Brazilian drivers, who had taped a sign reading "Brazil 4 x Japan 0" on his bicycle before the drivers meeting. Brazil and Japan met in the World Cup on Wednesday afternoon. -- Buddy Rice saw his testing time cut short due to a mechanical issue. He returned to the track with about an hour left in the session.


SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fastest in testing): "We had a great practice session today, and we were really happy with the Marlboro Team Penske car. Unfortunately, we had an incident at the end of practice. I feel bad for the crew. They gave me a great car all day. We'll regroup for practice tomorrow, and hopefully we'll get the back-up car as dialed in as the primary one was this afternoon."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 NYSE Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone, second-fastest): "I really enjoy this place. I think it's definitely a driver's track, which I love. It's a driver-engineer track, where you need to work. You really have to drive the car here. The NYSE boys have been doing an awesome job giving me the car I need. That's all I can ask for. We put new tires on for the last run. I think we could have bettered our time, but we ended up bottoming because we picked up so much grip on the banking. (About the morning test): "Just look at the total laps of everybody's career here. I wouldn't look at just the hour and half, two hours this morning. It definitely helped, and I needed that, for sure, but it doesn't give me an advantage. This morning was really an opportunity to do laps here and get my bearings."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, third fastest): "I was doing race stuff today because that's what we need to worry about. An extra day at Richmond is really valuable for us as a team because we've struggled in the past here. I'm pleased with how the day of testing went. We still have a long day ahead of us tomorrow, and this track can lead you in the wrong direction any time. I think we have a good starting setup for tomorrow. It will be up to us to make it better."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fourth fastest): "We're still trying to learn what a lot of these other teams experienced with the Dallara for the last few years. This is only our fifth race with a Dallara. Any time we get extra time, we learn quite a lot, so it was quite a productive day for us. There's still probably left in the car because we worked on race setup for most of the day. I think we're in good shape."

DARIO FRANCHITTI: (No. 27 Klein Tools/Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/ Firestone, fifth-fastest): "It was a good day. It was nice to get those extra four hours to do some development work and also to tune the car for the conditions and this new tire that Firestone has brought with them. Track time is always nice to have and I think we learned some stuff. Hopefully we can use it for tomorrow and Saturday."

BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone, sixth fastest): "We had a productive day and learned a lot in the XM Satellite Radio car. We still have some work to do, but we made ground today. I'm relatively happy with the car and the day that we had and hopefully we can transfer what we learned today into tomorrow and Saturday."


The 2006 IRL IndyCar Series continues with the SunTrust Indy Challenge presented by XM Satellite Radio at 8 p.m. (EDT) on June 24 at Richmond International Raceway. The race will be televised live by ESPN2 and the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 145 "IndyCar Racing" and The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Liberty Challenge on July 1 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. The race will be telecast by ESPN2 at 2 p.m. on July 6.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Scott Sharp , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Marco Andretti , Kosuke Matsuura , Chip Ganassi , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing