IRL IndyCar Series teams begin 2003 testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Former champ Brack, Indy 500 veteran Andretti test as full-time series drivers. MIAMI, FL (Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2003) - Indianapolis 500 veteran Michael Andretti and 1998 IRL...
IRL IndyCar Series teams begin 2003 testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Former champ Brack, Indy 500 veteran Andretti test as full-time series drivers.
MIAMI, FL (Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2003) - Indianapolis 500 veteran Michael Andretti and 1998 IRL IndyCar Series champion Kenny Brack tested Wednesday at Homestead-Miami Speedway along with five other IndyCar Series drivers. The drivers were testing in preparation for the Toyota Indy 300 to take place Sunday, March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
It marked the first time that Brack, the 1999 Indianapolis 500 champion, and Andretti, the 1991 CART champion, have driven the series' cars since the 86th Indianapolis 500 in May 2002.
Each driver will compete full time in the IndyCar Series in 2003. Brack will drive a Dallara/Honda/Firestone with backing from Miller Brewing and Pioneer for Team Rahal. Andretti, also in a Dallara/Honda/Firestone combination, will drive for Andretti Green Racing, of which he is a part owner. Both teams are entering their first full season of competition in the IndyCar Series.
"I think the series will be the strongest open-wheel series in the world this year," Brack said. "If you look at the package - the teams, drivers, engine manufacturers, all the players basically - it is going to be an extremely competitive environment. I'm looking forward to it. It is a big challenge."
Competing with Team Rahal reunites Brack with the team with which he competed in CART with in 2000 and 2001.
"I think it is a really nice package," Brack said. "We haven't had a problem all day, actually. It is a lot of fun. It is coming together. It is still the group I used to work with back when. We all know each other, so it is a lot easier than starting a whole new relationship. We feel comfortable in the car.
"We had a good, productive day today. We are working through our program basically, and it is working well."
Andretti is no stranger to Homestead-Miami Speedway, having won CART events there in 1997 and 1998.
"I was able to run about 50 laps," Andretti said. "The car was really fast. The crew at Andretti Green Racing did an awesome job of preparing the Dallara, and the Honda engine was very strong. I like the design changes on the 2003 car. It's a lot nicer to drive, and it's even nicer with the Honda engine in it.
"I think this is a really good start for us. Unfortunately, we had a problem with the steering rack, which was installed a little too close for comfort, and I had to get out of the car after a while. But in spite of that, I was very pleased with what we had out there today."
In addition to Andretti and Brack, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves tested a Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, two-time IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. tested a Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. tested a Corteco/Bryant Dallara/Toyota/Firestone. Jaques Lazier and Vitor Meira split time in a Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.
The teams completed 484 total laps on the 1.5-mile oval without any major problems with the new 2003 chassis and engines.
IndyCar Series testing continues Jan. 9-10 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The season-opening Toyota Indy 300 will take place Sunday, March 2 at 1 pm at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ABC and the IMS Radio Network.
For tickets to the Toyota Indy 300, call (305) 230-RACE, visit TicketMaster, or log on to www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com.