IRL: Sharp fastest at Gateway

By David Reininger - motorsport.com Madison, Ill. (August 24, 2001) – Scott Sharp took full advantage his resources at Kelley Racing, turning nine laps in his primary car before switching to the backup Delphi car. Once in the backup car, it ...

By David Reininger - motorsport.com

Madison, Ill. (August 24, 2001) – Scott Sharp took full advantage his resources at Kelley Racing, turning nine laps in his primary car before switching to the backup Delphi car. Once in the backup car, it took Sharp 13 laps to record the fastest lap of the day.

“We wanted to go a couple of different ways, and try some new things. With such limited time, we decided to hop in the other car when they threw the first yellow.

“When I hopped in the other car, obviously, I ended up liking it,” said Sharp, after averaging 168.262 mph around the 1.25-mile oval.

Persistent rain throughout the day cut practice for the Indy cars to a single one-hour session. The field was divided into two groups, with each group receiving thirty minutes of practice. “For a half hour session, it’s pretty good that everyone got going as quick as they did,” Sharp said.

With the limited amount of track time today, Saturday’s practice session, scheduled from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m., becomes critical as several teams are still searching for chassis setups and gear selections.

“The premium is going to be on handling at this race,” said Robbie Buhl, who was third fastest today, just one one-hundredth of a second slower than Sam Hornish.

“Obviously we’re not going to see side by side racing lap after lap, but we’re going to see great racing,” Buhl said. “I think we’ll see the same scenarios we’ve seen at Phoenix.”

“It’s pretty tight, it’s like a paperclip,” said Scott Sharp. “It’s hard to get the car to turn. It would be hard to pass a car on the outside,”

Buhl agreed, “If somebody is off the pace, that’s when you’ll get around them on the high side. But if you’re racing someone, you’re not going to stick it to them on the outside.”

After handling, the second key to this track is gear selection. Using one gear during a lap puts the car on the rev limiter for half the straightaway. The alternative, downshifting into turn one, may not be any faster.

“That’s one of the biggest things we had to think about for this weekend,” said Hornish, “because one end of the track is so much tighter than the other end.”

“It’s a pretty challenging racetrack, and it will really take a compromise on the setup to run well here,” said Billy Boat. “We’re still trying to sort out the two different ends (of the track).”

This is the Indy Racing League’s first visit to Gateway International Raceway. Up and down the pit lane, the drivers expressed satisfaction with the challenges presented by the track’s unique layout.

“This a perfect track to put into the mix of our schedule,” said Buhl. “We run on the big, beautiful mile and half facilities, the one-mile ovals like Phoenix and we ran Richmond this year. This track is a unique oval, long straight-aways and tight turns.”

Notes from the Gateway Indy 250 at Gateway International Raceway:

Sarah Fisher’s Walker Racing Kroger Special will be using Oldsmobile engines prepared by Team Menard this weekend. The in-house engine program at Team Menard also supplies engines to Heritage Motorsports and driver Jeff Ward.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Robbie Buhl , Jeff Ward , Scott Sharp , Billy Boat , Sam Hornis