IRL: Texas test notes 2003-09-30

FORT WORTH, Texas, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2003 -- Two-time IRL IndyCarTM Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. tested Sept. 30 at Texas Motor Speedway in preparation for the season-ending Chevy 500 Oct. 12 at the 1.5-mile oval. Hornish, driver of the No....

FORT WORTH, Texas, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2003 -- Two-time IRL IndyCarTM Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. tested Sept. 30 at Texas Motor Speedway in preparation for the season-ending Chevy 500 Oct. 12 at the 1.5-mile oval.

Hornish, driver of the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, is no stranger to the Texas track, having won the last two fall races at TMS.

"We are working hard on our race setup," Hornish said. "We are really close on the car. We want to be able to go through some aero bits, other things that have to do with the engine. (We're) running all the new things that we found since the last race to see if they will help or are an advantage to us here."

Hornish, 24, from Defiance, Ohio, is attempting to win his third consecutive IndyCar Series championship. Only one driver, Ted Horn in 1946-48, has won three consecutive Indy-style championships.

Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon are tied in the standings with 467 points, followed by Tony Kanaan with 460 points and Hornish with 448. Gil de Ferran is fifth with 437.

Hornish's fourth-place ranking is impressive considering that after finishing 10th in the Bombardier 500 in June at TMS, he was 11th in points, 85 behind then-leader Kanaan.

Since then, Chevrolet introduced the Gen IV Chevy Indy V-8 engine, which has given Hornish, as well as other Chevrolet drivers, more horsepower.

"We are running eight miles an hour faster here now than we qualified in June," Hornish said. "That's a big difference."

In addition to Hornish, Alex Barron tested at Texas in the No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone. Barron has driven nine races in 2003 with three different teams, the last two with Cheever.

He finished seventh with the team at Chicagoland and 10th at California.

"We haven't had a lot of time together," Barron said. "It is only our third race together coming up. We have made a lot of strides in the right direction but have been missing it by just a little bit. That is what we want to accomplish: to have a good car when we come back for race weekend. We definitely need to have good results at the last race of the season."

Richie Hearn tested in the No. 91 Metabolife/Delta Faucet/Life Fitness Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone for Hemelgarn Racing. His first experience with the team was Sept. 21 at California Speedway. He finished 21st when handling problems ended his day after 133 of the 200 laps.

"We are trying to give ourselves a good race car for next week," Hearn said. "This is only my second time with the team. We have a lot to accomplish in a short time. It is a good idea to come down for this test. We are going to try things with the car and see how I like it. We will have a better race car next week than we had at the last race."

Other drivers who tested at Texas included Vitor Meira, driver of the No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, and Robbie Buhl, driver of the No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.

Testing is expected to continue Oct. 1, with 2003 Menards Infiniti Pro Series champion Mark Taylor testing a Panther Racing IndyCar Series car.

The season-ending Chevy 500 at Texas Motor Speedway is Oct. 12 and will be broadcast live at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) by ESPN and the IMS Radio Network. For tickets, log on to www.texasmotorspeedway, call (817) 215-8500 or go to any Ticketmaster location.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Mark Taylor , Robbie Buhl , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Richie Hearn , Alex Barron , Sam Hornish Jr. , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing