IRL: Teams continue to pound pavement in testing

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, June 22, 2001 - The quest for speed and information continued for Indy Racing teams June 21, as an aggressive testing schedule continued at three tracks new to the Northern Light Series this season. Shigeaki Hattori and ...

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, June 22, 2001 - The quest for speed and information continued for Indy Racing teams June 21, as an aggressive testing schedule continued at three tracks new to the Northern Light Series this season.

Shigeaki Hattori and Airton Dare tested at Richmond International Raceway, site of the SunTrust Indy Challenge on June 30. Sarah Fisher and Billy Boat tested at Nashville Superspeedway, site of the Harrah's Indy 200 on July 21, while Buddy Lazier, Scott Sharp and Mark Dismore turned laps at Chicagoland Speedway, site of the Delphi Indy 300 on Sept. 2.

Hattori turned a top lap of 17.25 seconds at 156.521 mph in the No. 55 EPSON Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone on the ¾-mile oval. He also tested June 20 at RIR.

The SunTrust Indy Challenge will be the first Indy Racing event ever on a track shorter than 1 mile. "I like the track a lot," Hattori said. "It's pretty neat. It's so much different than tracks like Atlanta and Phoenix. We had a really good test both days. We worked on both a qualifying setup and a race setup on Thursday and had good results.

"It's very different. It will be a lot different for the race with all of the traffic. If you have a good car, you'll be able to easily pass and race side by side. This test will help us have a good car for next week.

"Being here at a new track is good for the series. It helps us get more fans." Dare, 2000 Indy Racing Rookie of the Year, only turned 127 laps June 21 but managed a best lap of 17.0, 158.824 mph in the No. 88 1-800-BAR-NONE G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone.

"You have to be aggressive here by getting the car into the turns," Dare said. "It's not like some places where you are waiting for the car to work for you. Here you have to do it yourself. There's always so much action because the corners come up quickly and you are always turning and fighting the car."

Changing weather conditions could cause cars to gain or lose speed considerably at Richmond, Dare said. "For us, the heat won't matter too much," Dare said. "It might make a difference for some guys who were here when it was cooler. But you can also go the other way around - if you test in the heat and then run when it's cooler, you can pick up some speed. So it should be very interesting.

"We ran the whole morning on the same set of tires, so this place doesn't seem too hard on tires."

At Nashville, Fisher turned 155 laps on the 1.33-mile concrete oval with a top speed of 201.2 mph in the No. 15 Walker Racing Kroger Special Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone.

"We had a great testing day today at Nashville Superspeedway and will be a lot more prepared for the race than we would have been without it," Fisher said. "We learned a lot of specific information.

"As far as the geometry of the track goes, it's most like Kentucky, but the corners are tighter and the surface itself is somewhat similar to Richmond."

Boat turned 120 laps at Nashville with a best lap of 203.26 mph in the No. 98 CURB Records Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone.

"We had a great test," Boat said. "The track is very challenging, to say the least. It's not one of those places where you can roll off the truck and immediately put up fast times. The concrete is a very unique surface with its own set of idiosyncrasies that make it tricky for the engineers and mechanics to find the right setup.

"We ran 203-plus (mph) fairly consistently, but knowing we had more than that left, I'd look for race weekend speeds, and especially the pole speed, to be noticeably faster. Considering the racing surface, the configuration of the track and the close racing we have in the Indy Racing series, I expect this to be a very exiting event."

At Chicagoland, defending series champion Lazier, 1996 series co-champion Sharp and Dismore participated in a Firestone tire test on the 1.5-mile oval.

"This place is awesome," said Sharp, driver of the No. 8 Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. "The track is really smooth, which is important for Indy Racing. It's extremely fast, and the car gets in and out of the corners effortlessly.

"The speedway is very unique because it is almost a continuous oval. Because of that, it gives us a better opportunity to pass other cars and race side by side."

-IRNLS/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Shigeaki Hattori , Buddy Lazier , Scott Sharp , Billy Boat , Airton Daré , Mark Dismore