The Menards Infiniti Pro Series cars were on track for the first time today with Marty Roth topping the speed charts after a single 90-minute practice session this morning. Roth was fast right away, breaking the 190 mph barrier twenty-three...
The Menards Infiniti Pro Series cars were on track for the first time today with Marty Roth topping the speed charts after a single 90-minute practice session this morning. Roth was fast right away, breaking the 190 mph barrier twenty-three minutes into the session. Three drivers ran faster than 190 mph with Roth at 190.340 mph.
Roth intends to race in the Futaba Freedom 100 as well as the Indianapolis 500, but has yet to make a qualifying run. In practice for the 500, Roth turned his best lap of the event yesterday, averaging 213.140 mph. "It was a little strange getting into that car," said Roth. "I cleaned up a few bad habits that I had in the IndyCar Series car over the last week or two, and it gave me a good chance to make some changes to this car and keep it fast."
Paul Dana, who was second with an average speed of 190.338 mph, missed the top spot by 0.0006 of a second. "We tested well here a month ago, so we knew we were close. We had a real productive session. It was long enough that we did some full fuel stops, some qualifying simulations and got to run in the draft. It will be interesting to see what people run in qualifying."
Dana spent several laps running in the draft of Thiago Medeiros who finished the session third with a lap at 190.153 mph.
"We're trying to set the car up for the race," said Medeiros, who leads the championship standings after a second at Miami and a convincing victory at Phoenix. "We ran some laps with other drivers to see how the car feels in the draft. We'll make some changes and see what happens."
USAC standout driver Jay Drake, who is being helped by veteran mechanic Larry Curry, was fourth today in his second time in an Infiniti Pro Series car. "When we brought Jay over here and let him run a few laps in the Open Test he ran 179 mph, and he seemed to be a little depressed because he was the slowest guy," said Curry. "Here's a guy whose last run here was 179 mph, and his first outing today he went 188 mph. There are race car drivers, and there are people who drive race cars. He is a race car driver"
Drake, who ran a best lap of 189.335 mph, was thrilled with his results. "Just to drive a lap around this place is a dream come true for me and then to actually be competitive with these guys -- that's a big thrill for me."
Drake competes in the USAC Silver Crown Series, racing on short ovals and dirt tracks in a front engine car. "There's really no comparison," said Drake. It's a completely different machine. I couldn't say there were any similarities whatsoever. I just think having thousands of laps in the numerous types of race car I have run is a big help."
Fifth overall today was Phil Giebler, who is second in Pro Series points after scoring a victory in the season opener at Miami. "We're just making little steps to try to figure out how to get more speed down these straights, and we really haven't found it," said Giebler after turning 59 laps, the most of any driver. "We've got to look at the data and make some smart moves to make the most of the next session."
Jeff Simmons returns to the Pro Series for the first time this season, setting the sixth fastest lap of the day at 188.903 mph. Simmons finished second in the Pro Series championship in 2003 and has been trying to move up to the IndyCar Series for 2004. Simmons said his car is not bad but "I think we still need to pick it up a bit for qualifying. We have a decent car right now, but we're going to need to work on it a bit tomorrow."
Arie Luyendyk was seventh on the day, followed by Cory Witherhill and Billy Roe. Matt Beardsley rounded out the top ten.
Seventeen cars were on track for practice today. Qualifying for the Futaba Freedom 100 is set to start at 12:45 p.m. Friday.