IRL: Watkins Glen open test report

BRISCOE LEADS INDYCAR SERIES OPEN TESTING AT WATKINS GLEN Six drivers break both existing long-course records. WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., Wednesday, June 15, 2005 -- IRL IndyCar® Series rookie Ryan Briscoe led a group of six drivers who unofficially...

BRISCOE LEADS INDYCAR SERIES OPEN TESTING AT WATKINS GLEN
Six drivers break both existing long-course records.

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., Wednesday, June 15, 2005 -- IRL IndyCar® Series rookie Ryan Briscoe led a group of six drivers who unofficially eclipsed both long-course track records during IndyCar Series Open Testing at Watkins Glen International.

Briscoe turned a lap of 1 minute, 31.7200 seconds, 132.272 mph in his No. 33 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Toyota-powered Panoz. That time was .0004 of a second quicker than 2004 IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan, who was the second-fastest in his No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Honda-powered Dallara.

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves was third quickt with a lap of 1:31.9813 in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone. Scott Dixon, Vitor Meira and Bryan Herta also bettered both records.

Records began falling early during the one-day test as Kanaan recorded a lap of 1:33.1526 at 11:19 a.m., fastest lap recorded on any version of the long circuit at Watkins Glen.

The long-course circuit record - when the track did not have an inner and outer loop but had the "Scheckter Chicane" at the bottom of the Esses - is 1 minute, 33.291 seconds set by Bruno Giacomelli in an Alfa-Romeo during qualifying for the 1980 U.S. Grand Prix.

The other track record -- using the same configuration used during the test -- was set by Andrea Montermini (1:38.573; 124.174 mph), driving a Ferrari 333SP in 1997. All 19 cars bettered that mark before rains brought an end to the session 30 minutes early.

The IndyCar Series returns for the Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix Presented by Argent Mortgage on Sept. 25.

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POST-TESTING QUOTES:

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 33 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone): "I had a good day. It was amazingly fun driving around this fantastic race track. It's so fast and challenging. It was great fun. I'd really like to thank everyone at Watkins Glen International. I know they put in a lot of work and money for the safety of the track and they definitely made improvements. My day was good. We were trying to go out at the end of the day to get some wet weather testing, but we got the checkered flag."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I was very pleased with testing. The car was very balanced. We did a long run as well, and the car seemed to be very consistent. Unfortunately, it rained. We want to go back out, but it's just too much of a risk, especially after the long day we've had. We're very, very pleased. I know we'll have a great chance when we come back here. It will be a long wait, but that's part of the game." (About driving at Watkins Glen): "It's very challenging. Very tough, very fast. With all of those characteristics, it makes tough for the drivers and the engineers. There's a lot of history, which I need to know, because I don't know much, but it's an honor to be here."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Menards Johns Manville Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "I think we learned a lot here today. It still takes some time to get back into road racing mode, but I really like this place. It reminds me of racing in Europe. It's a very fast. I think we'll have a good race here. We didn't get a chance to try some things at the end of the day due to the rain, but we were able to find a good baseline when we come back. I think everyone was excited to come back and go road racing. Most of the drivers come from that background, so we look to get back here and go racing. This place has a lot of history, and I was happy when the IRL put this track on the schedule."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "I raced a sports car here in 2001 and 2002, so I had a little more background coming here. Of course, you are going a lot faster in an Indy car. I think we're a little surprised how fast we went today, and I'm sure we'll be quicker in qualifying when we come back later in the year. We'll still learn some more with our cars at the (Infineon) race (in August). We are would have liked to have run some more at the end, but rain kept us from that. I'm not sure that racing in the rain with the Indy cars would be very fun. This is a very fast track and the rain throws another variable into the equation, but it is definitely a possibility when we come back in September. But the drivers are looking to come back here. I know that."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I was pretty happy with how we were running. We still had another set of tires to put on, so we were expecting to go even quicker. I felt really happy with the way the car was handling. We just needed a little more time. Unfortunately, we didn't get it. I'm really looking forward to the race. I think things will go well when we come back. The key is to stay out of trouble and making it to the end. You can't mistakes here because there's not a lot of room to go off. (Turn) 1 is about the only place you can get wheels off and still have all four corners left on the car. It's all about patience. Hopefully, we can get a good handling race car and see how things go from there."

PATRICK CARPENTIER (No. 83 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "What a beautiful track. It's a fast track and I like high-speed tracks. The back section is a lot of fun there. It was my first time to come here and I really enjoyed the day. I think for the race, it will be fantastic with a lot of action. It's just a beautiful facility."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 2 ROCKSTAR Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "This is a really great track. Lots of turns, up and down, and I like fast chicane that goes into the flat-out right hander. There are still some straights where the drivers can relax a bit. We're not looking for all-out speed here today; just trying to collect at much data as possible so we know where we stand when we come back here later this season. The main thing is to come out here and learn some new stuff. My dad, uncle and cousin have all raced here, so there's a little bit of tradition here for me. But mainly I'm hoping to continue the Panther tradition of winning when we come back here in September."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "This was my first time here, and it is a cool track. It reminds me of the European circuits, maybe like Spa. I need to learn the track more than just today. I haven't driven with this much power before on a road circuit. I had 250 horsepower in the Atlantics, but there is a lot more horsepower with these cars, so there is learning curve for me. The surface was very smooth, and I like that. It will be an interesting race when we come back here. It was good to come here and test at this place. It would be very difficult to here for the first time during the race weekend."

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First laps: Scott Dixon's No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Toyota-powered Panoz was the first car on track today at 9:15 a.m. It was the first time that an Indy-style car has run officially at Watkins Glen since 1981. Dixon did not complete a full lap, but his teammate Darren Manning recorded the first official IndyCar Series lap at 9:23 a.m.

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The last open-wheel races held at Watkins Glen International were the U.S. Grand Prix East won by Alan Jones held Oct. 5, 1980 and the Watkins Glen 200, a CART event won by Rick Mears on Oct. 4, 1981.

Johnny Rutherford, who like Mears, serves as a driver coach for the Indy Racing League, finished second in that event.

RICK MEARS: (What do you remember about the 1981 race here?): "It was a good day. It was obviously a good day for us to be able to win the race. I remember Bobby Unser and I had a great battle at the end. The last few laps, we were passing back and forth trying to beat each other. We were fortunate enough to win the race. Like they say, when it's your day, it's your day. We pulled the car into victory circle, did all the pictures and when they went to pull the car out, the rear end locked up. The ring gear bolts were starting to back out. If the race had been one more lap longer, we wouldn't have made it."

JOHNNY RUTHERFORD: (What was it like racing here at Watkins Glen?): "(1981) was a great race. I don't recall if it rained, but I remember seeing pictures of me here at Watkins Glen with spray coming off the tires, and it was pretty different to run in the rain. We've had a lot of great races, and had a lot of fun. I remember Watkins Glen being the most fun road courses."

***

Thanks to the generosity of team owner Roger Penske, last week's Sam Hornish Jr. Celebrity Bowling Tournament raised $70,000 for the Texas chapter of Speedway Children's Charities.

More than 100 bowlers participated in the inaugural event with their contributions totaling $47,000. Following the event, Hornish contributed an additional $5,000 and his parents matched that to bring the total to $57,000. Marlboro Team Penske owner Roger Penske wanted to make the donation a round number so he added an additional $13,000 to bring the total for the event to $70,000.

Hornish's Domino's Pizza team defeated the Bud Light team led by Dallas Cowboys safety Keith Davis in the championship showdown between the five-bowler squads.

Other celebrities that competed in the event included IndyCar Series drivers Helio Castroneves, A.J. Foyt IV, Vitor Meira and Bryan Herta; NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers Brendan Gaughan and David Starr, Dallas Cowboys wide receivers Terry Glenn and Patrick Crayton, three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford, gold medalist Olympic swimmer Dana Vollmer, PBA bowler Danny Wiseman, ABC/ESPN pit reporter Jamie Little and IRL President and Chief Operating Officer Brian Barnhart.

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone): "I was really excited when they called me to do this. I thought maybe somebody will show up for it. It was really great. We had a great turnout for it. When they told me they had raised $47,000, I thought it was really good, but I was very lucky growing up and had two parents who were always there for me. We try to give back as much as we can. Texas Motor Speedway and this area has always been good to me, so we wanted to give some back. We'd like to thank everyone for having us, and we'd like to do it again."

*** <pre> INDYCAR SERIES TESTING AT WATKINS GLEN: Pos. No. Name C/E/T Best Time Best Speed 1 33 Ryan Briscoe P/T/F 1:31.7200 132.272 mph 2 11 Tony Kanaan D/H/F 1:31.7204 132.272 mph 3 3 Helio Castroneves D/T/F 1:31.9813 131.896 mph 4 9 Scott Dixon P/T/F 1:32.3318 131.396 mph 5 17 Vitor Meira P/H/F 1:32.7276 130.835 mph 6 7 Bryan Herta D/H/F 1:32.8251 130.697 mph 7 15 Buddy Rice P/H/F 1:33.3113 130.016 mph 8 10 Darren Manning P/T/F 1:33.3603 129.948 mph 9 26 Dan Wheldon D/H/F 1:33.5043 129.748 mph 10 83 Patrick Carpentier D/T/F 1:33.5066 129.745 mph 11 6 Sam Hornish Jr. D/T/F 1:33.5162 129.732 mph 12 27 Dario Franchitti D/H/F 1:33.6211 129.586 mph 13 55 Kosuke Matsuura P/H/F 1:33.7731 129.376 mph 14 2 Tomas Scheckter D/C/F 1:34.3470 128.589 mph 15 51 Alex Barron D/T/F 1:35.0144 127.686 mph 16 8 Scott Sharp P/H/F 1:35.0575 127.628 mph 17 16 Danica Patrick P/H/F 1:35.0883 127.587 mph 18 24 Roger Yasukawa D/H/F 1:37.8893 123.936 mph 19 20 Ed Carpenter D/T/F 1:37.9973 123.799 mph

Chassis legend: D Dallara; P Panoz. Engine legend: C Chevrolet; H Honda; T Toyota. Tire legend: F Firestone.

</pre> The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the SunTrust Indy Challenge on June 25 at Richmond International Raceway. The race will be telecast by ESPN2 at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The race also will be available on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 "XM Extreme." ESPN2's telecast of the Firestone 100 will be shown at 3 p.m. (EDT) on June 16. The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Liberty Challenge on June 18 at the 2.605-mile road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It will be telecast at 5 p.m. (EDT) June 21 by ESPN2.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Darren Manning , David Starr , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , A.J. Foyt IV , Patrick Carpentier , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Alex Barron , Dan Wheldon , Rick Mears , Bobby Unser , Alan Jones , Roger Yasukawa , Brendan Gaughan , Buddy Rice , Andrea Montermini , Ryan Briscoe , Bruno Giacomelli , Kosuke Matsuura , Chip Ganassi , Roger Penske , Jamie Little , Brian Barnhart , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick , Ed Carpenter , Johnny Rutherford , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing