IRL: Teams wrap up Homestead-Miami test session

Dixon takes first laps in Indy Racing car. HOMESTEAD, Fla., Thursday, Dec. 5, 2002 -- Four teams fielding five drivers finished two days of testing Dec. 5 at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway in preparation for the 2003 IRL season...

Dixon takes first laps in Indy Racing car.

HOMESTEAD, Fla., Thursday, Dec. 5, 2002 -- Four teams fielding five drivers finished two days of testing Dec. 5 at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway in preparation for the 2003 IRL season opener March 2.

Target/Chip Ganassi Racing driver Tomas Scheckter, Andretti Green Racing test driver Dan Wheldon, 2002 Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series champion A.J. Foyt IV and teammate Airton Dare of A.J. Foyt Racing, and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves of Marlboro Team Penske participated in the final day of testing.

Scott Dixon, Scheckter's Target/Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, turned his first laps in an Indy Racing League car Dec. 4 at HMS. Dixon, 22, previously spent two years competing in CART.

"I thought that the test went very well," Dixon said. "We ran 250 miles and didn't have any problems whatsoever. The Toyota engine ran flawless all day, and I was happy with how competitive we were right out of the box.

"The conditions weren't ideal as it was pretty windy, so it took a little bit of time to adjust to the car. The Target guys made some adjustments for me during the day to make it more comfortable for me to drive. The IRL car is different than the CART car in that everything happens just a little bit slower. It's not easier to drive, just a different feel. I'm happy that we were so quick, being that it was my first time ever in the car."

Scheckter, 22, turned laps Dec. 5 at HMS for Target/Chip Ganassi Racing.

"It was good," Scheckter said. "We messed around with some stuff. It's just me getting used to the team and working on the engine. It's quite preseason now, so we're just setting things up for the future. It was a good day today. I learned a lot."

Scheckter made his IRL debut at Homestead-Miami in March 2002, starting third and finishing sixth.

"It (HMS) is tough," Scheckter said. "It's not an easy circuit, that's for sure. But it's a good circuit, and I look forward to it. We just need to get our stuff sorted out here to make sure that we are up front in March." Another driver looking forward to the season opener is Miami resident Castroneves, who tested both days with the Toyota engine.

"First of all, we don't need to take a plane to someplace else before the championship starts," Castroneves said. "It's great to be over here in Florida and close to my home.

"So far we are testing a lot of the gearbox. We want to make sure that we run a lot and make sure we don't have any kind of issues when we start running with the new car. Also, we're testing the engine, which is new for us and new for them, so we want to make sure that we keep running and fine-tuning as much as we can before we start the championship."

Foyt, who crashed in testing Dec. 4 at Homestead-Miami, returned to the cockpit of an A.J. Foyt Racing car.

"I was pretty screwed up this morning," Foyt said. "I didn't have any confidence in the car or myself. I was getting frustrated, but my grandfather (four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt) was patient. He explained I wasn't going fast enough to use all the downforce. To me, it felt like the car was skating all around.

"After Airton got in it and I saw the times he turned, I knew the car was OK. I got back in the car and got back up to speed. I learned a lot today, maybe more than I wanted to, but now I feel good about coming back here."

The Indy Racing League season starts March 2 at Homestead-Miami.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Airton Daré , Helio Castroneves , A.J. Foyt IV , Scott Dixon , Dan Wheldon , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing