IRL: Sears Point open test, day one notes

CASTRONEVES LEADS OPENING DAY AT INFINEON TEST Note: AP-style agate from today's testing is attached to this message in WORD format. SONOMA, Calif., Tuesday, April 12, 2005 -- Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves led the...


Note: AP-style agate from today's testing is attached to this message in WORD format.

SONOMA, Calif., Tuesday, April 12, 2005 -- Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves led the opening day of IRL IndyCar® Series testing as the series made its official debut at Infineon Raceway.

Castroneves recorded a lap of 1 minute, 17.1782 seconds, 105.418 mph, in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Toyota-powered Dallara. Rookie Ryan Briscoe was second fastest with a lap of 1:17.7745, 104.610 mph in the No. 33 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone. Dario Franchitti recorded the third-quickest lap, 1:17.8856, 104.461 in the No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

In all, 18 car-driver combinations recorded 671 laps on the 12-turn, 2.26 mile road course. IndyCar Series teams continue testing at Infineon Raceway on April 13 with a full day of testing.


HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We went out in a rental car earlier in the day, and the elevations seemed pretty high. But it was a lot different being in the open-wheel car, being so low to the ground. It was incredible. It was amazing. It reminded me of Laguna Seca. It felt incredible. This is an exciting and fun place. We couldn't have picked a better place to race this year. It will be a fun place for people to watch, because you can see all the way around the track. But this place is very tough, because of the high-speed turns. You have to put all the corners together here. There are high speed and low speed corners. It's a challenge to the engineers and drivers. It will make it interesting on the race weekend here."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 33 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone): "We've had a good half-day session. It's a great track and it's amazing the change of elevation out there. There's a lot of driving to it. It'll be exciting to come back here in August, and I hope we can keep the performance going well. It's really a challenging track around here, and it's going to be a long race. It's hard to imagine going around this place 60-some laps on race day without making any mistakes. It's going to be a challenge."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It was a good day. We learned a lot with all four cars. We're kind of limited in the sets of tires we can use, so we're keeping our load in hand for tomorrow. We're very, very happy with the ArcaEx car. It's a challenging circuit here. It's a lot of fun." (About the elevation changes at Infineon Raceway): "We were lucky, we were able to do one of the tests for the IRL in (November). It was very difficult then to see where you were. We made some changes to the car so I could see, but still, when you get to Turn 4, you're absolutely blind. All you can see is sky. It makes it a challenge, but they make for some good corners on this track."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Pioneer/Argent Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "Fourth. That's a pretty good start to this test. Today was spent building on what we learned at St. Pete. On race day, a few things clicked for us in warm-up and the race. We're not going to get too excited about results from a test, but looking ahead this is a good sign for Rahal Letterman Racing for when we come back in August. Tomorrow is a new day and we just have to keep it rolling."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "I'm pleased. I feel like we've been trying to catch up on the road courses. The guys did a good job with the setup, and we worked through a lot of stuff today. We learned a lot and we got the car working pretty good at the end. I love this track. Infineon is an awesome driver's track. You get so much thrown at you and the team. Uphill, downhill, camber, off-camber, tight, fast, slow. All of kinds of different corners. It's a challenge."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone): "The Marlboro Team Penske car handled well today. I flat-spotted a set of tires early this afternoon, so unfortunately, we couldn't do a sticker run late in the day, which would've helped us gain a little more speed. I'm looking forward to a full day tomorrow, and hopefully, we'll be a little faster than we were today."

PATRICK CARPENTIER (No. 83 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone): "Not too bad today. We started off decent, and the Red Bull Cheever Racing team made many improvements all day. We are still lacking some grip over the bumps in the rear, but we are definitely improving. We logged our fastest lap after we were on tires that had logged several laps. I think we could have been even better if the changes had been made about 15 laps earlier on fresh tires."

ROBERTO MORENO (No. 20 Vision Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I was so surprised today with how good these cars are. I haven't driven a Formula car for a long time, and these cars remind of the good days in Formula One, the late 1980s and early 1990s. They have a lot of grip and a fantastic feel. I really enjoyed it. I have to thank Tony (George) and Ed (Carpenter) and Larry (Curry) for asking me to test. I'm here to help them with the setup and help Ed get going on the road courses. I had so much fun today. It was more fun than I've had since the Formula One days."

The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the Indy Japan 300 on April 30 at Twin Ring Motegi. The race will be telecast by ESPN at Noon (EDT) on April 30 and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network at 11:30 p.m. (EDT) on April 29. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also will be available on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 "XM Extreme." The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Futaba Freedom 100 on May 27 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast on ESPN2 at 2 p.m. (EDT) on May 27.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Ryan Briscoe , Chip Ganassi
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing