IRL: Windy test day at Indy

IRL: Windy test day at Indy

Wind played havoc with open testing today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as a total of 26 car/driver combinations worked to find an optimal setup for the 88th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race set to take place on May 30th. Gusts around 30mph this ...

Wind played havoc with open testing today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as a total of 26 car/driver combinations worked to find an optimal setup for the 88th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race set to take place on May 30th. Gusts around 30mph this afternoon forced many teams to head for the paddock two hours before the second session was completed.

Sam Hornish Jr..
Photo by Dan Helrigel - IRL.
By the stroke of 4PM EST, the Marlboro Team Penske duo of Sam Hornish Jr. (#6 Dallara/Toyota at 41.0451 seconds/219.271mph) and two-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves (#3 Dallara/Toyota, 41.0480 seconds/219.256mph) were on top of the time sheets.

Third on the speed chart fell to NASCAR NEXTEL Cup contender Robby Gordon, bringing his own team to the Speedway to run a #70 Meijer/Coca-Cola Dallara/Chevrolet to a lap of 41.1107 seconds (218.921mph). Gordon will attempt the daily double again on May 30th, the fourth time he's attempted to win both the Indy 500 at Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC.

Hornish considered his 77 laps productive, turning his best on his 36th of 37 laps turned this afternoon. "We tried to work on the car all day long to make it better" for the race. "We ended up spending a bit more time working on it than we wanted to," he shrugged.

Robby Gordon.
Photo by Dan Helrigel - IRL.
For Castroneves, "The weather was a little tough, especially in Turn 1. We're trying to make sure our baseline is good. To succeed at this place you have to respect it and learn what changes to make to the car. Luck always helps," said Spiderman after turning 64 laps for day and his best on lap 22 of 23 in the second session.

Gordon packed it up with 20 minutes to go while his competitors remained on the track. "With a brand new team, to be this quick out of the box is neat." Turning all of 24 laps for the day Gordon placed tongue firmly in cheek to note, "It takes a long time for me to get back up to speed around here." He's "pretty happy with but I think there was another 1-1.5mph in the car." This afternoon, Gordon lapped the 2.5-mile oval 14 times, setting his quick tour on the 11th go-round.

Fourth for the day belonged to 2003 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, who held the top slot for much of the afternoon at 41.1191 seconds (218.876mph) in his #1 Team Target Panoz G Force/Toyota. He made 15 laps in the afternoon and logged his best on lap 14. "there was no point in fighting the wind. I'm happy with what we've done so far, but there's a lot of time to improve things," the Kiwi noted. "the track is getting faster and faster and we should pick up more speed by the time qualifying rolls around."

Alex Barron settled into the #51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet with a morning lap of 41.1696 seconds (218.608mph), good for fifth today. Barron called it "a great day of testing, even though it was windy out there."

Darren Manning.
Photo by Dan Helrigel - IRL.
Darren Manning and the #10 Team Target Panoz G Force/Toyota team packed it in shortly before 2PM this afternoon and, when they did, the Briton's 11th lap (of 17) at 41.2241 seconds (218.319mph) was quickest. He ended up sixth for the day. "The car was really good right from the start," Manning admitted. "We tried things out there on our own without running in traffic, and I'm pleased with the results so far." He stopped early to save tires for Thursday's second test session.

Rookie Ed Carpenter, who won the inaugural Futaba Freedom 100 Menards Infiniti Pro Series race at IMS last May was seventh for the day in his #52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevy with an afternoon lap of 41.2870 seconds (217.986mph). "We had another good day," after running Rookie Orientation Program on Monday. "We didn't get as much track time as we wanted, but we made some more progress," Carpenter said.

Tomas Scheckter's morning lap of 41.3343 seconds (217.737mph) in the #4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet gave him eighth place for the day. In his first drive of the #24 Purex/Aventis Dallara/Chevrolet, Felipe Giaffone turned a quick morning lap of 41.3620 seconds (217.591mph) on his 30th of 31 total in the morning, good for ninth on the day. He thought it felt "pretty good. It was my first time back in a car after seven months," after all.

Tenth place on the time sheets fell to another rookie, as Briton Mark Taylor took a morning lap of 41.5359 seconds (216.680mph) in the #2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet. "It's nice to see all those Chevrolets near the top of the speed chart again," Taylor said. "We felt quick and we've already made some progress from the rookie test on Monday."

Scott Sharp earned 11th for his 70 laps, turning his best in the morning session for the #8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota he drives for Kelley Racing. "It was more of a day to get some baseline items, get yourself a pretty decent direction for when opening day comes," Sharp said.

Rookie Kosuke Matsuura was 12th in the #55 Panasonic/ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda, fastest for the engine maker that won the most recent race at Twin Ring Motegi. "We found a good setup," he revealed even as Matsuura didn't particularly appreciate the conditions. "We improved two miles per hour" from Monday.

Buddy Rice was 13th in the #15 Pioneer/Argent Mortgage Panoz G Force/Honda and admitted, "It wasn't the best day to test with the windy conditions, but it was good to come out and get a baseline." Twin Ring Motegi victor Dan Wheldon turned the 14th best lap of 56 total in his #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda during the windy afternoon and thought "it just didn't go the way we wanted it to."

For his first laps in the #36 PacifiCare Panoz G Force/Honda fielded by Newman/Haas Racing, Bruno Junqueira logged 51 laps and turned his best in the afternoon session, good for 15th place.

"We didn't run very much this morning but were able to put in more laps in the afternoon and by the end of the day the car had good balance." While he realizes the conditions weren't ideal Junqueira knows, "You need a car that is good in all conditions" at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Driving the #16 Sammy Panoz G Force/Honda that is assigned to Roger Yasukawa in testing today, teammate Vitor Meira turned the 16th best lap and noted, "We were trying different things than Buddy. I was impressed with how Team Rahal worked through all of the setups today. I think we learned more about the Panoz G Force chassis and I just wish the wind wouldn't have been so strong." Yasukawa tests tomorrow.

Al Unser Jr. turned his first laps in an unpainted #20 Patrick Racing Dallara/Chevrolet and ended up in 17th place and admitted, "The team's getting to know one another and that's what we're learning right now.". Tora Takagi was 18th in the #12 Pioneer Dallara/Toyota and thought "it was great to be back at the Speedway. We have a long way to go, but there is certainly no need to rush."

A.J. Foyt IV logged 43 laps in the #14 Conseco Dallara/Toyota and was 19th for the day. The sophomore thought things "went pretty smooth today. We weren't really trimmed out." Landing in 20th, Bryan Herta thought "the wind was really tricky, but it was a really good day," for his #7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda. Greg Ray was 21st in the #13 Renovac Panoz G Force/Honda, while Adrian Fernandez earned the 22nd quickest lap in his #5 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Panoz G Force/Honda.

The windy conditions didn't catch out too many of the drivers, but Dario Franchitti did manage to white-wall his right rear Firestone tire at about 1:45PM and the team decided to call it a day, rather than further tempt the fates. The Scot ended up in 23rd place after turning a total of 38 laps in the #27 Arca/Ex Dallara/Honda.

Larry Foyt was 24th in the #14T Conseco Dallara/Toyota and called it "a good day." He ran a total of 24 laps for the day deciding, "It wasn't worth taking a chance" with wind gusts. Sarah Fisher spent the day learning her #39 Bryant Heating and Cooling Dallara/Toyota. Rookie Marty Roth was the caboose of this 26-car train in his #25 Dallara/Toyota.

Far better conditions are expected for the second day of this open test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the cast of characters will assemble once more to test the 2.5-mile IMS oval. Gordon will stick around and do some more testing before heading to California Speedway for his other job racing NASCAR for Rick Hendrick. "Moving the test back one day didn't hurt us at all. We'll try some package options on Thursday and see where we land."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Darren Manning , Robby Gordon , Sarah Fisher , Greg Ray , Felipe Giaffone , Al Unser Jr. , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , A.J. Foyt IV , Bruno Junqueira , Adrian Fernandez , Scott Dixon , Tora Takagi , Bryan Herta , Larry Foyt , Alex Barron , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Kosuke Matsuura , Sam Hornish Jr. , Ed Carpenter , Vitor Meira
Teams Team Penske