IMS Brickyard day one test report

T. Bodine fastest, Andretti second in NASCAR testing July 14 at Indy. INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, July 14, 2003 -- Todd Bodine topped the charts July 14 in NASCAR Winston Cup Series testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but it was Indianapolis...

T. Bodine fastest, Andretti second in NASCAR testing July 14 at Indy.

INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, July 14, 2003 -- Todd Bodine topped the charts July 14 in NASCAR Winston Cup Series testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but it was Indianapolis native John Andretti who turned heads with the second-fastest lap of the day in a Dale Earnhardt, Inc.-prepared stock car.

Bodine's top speed was 178.879 mph in BelCar Racing's No. 154 National Guard Ford, while Andretti circled the 2.5-mile oval at 178.568 in the No. 81 Kraft Chevrolet for DEI. Jimmy Spencer was third in Ultra Motorsports' No. 7 Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge at 177.747.

Bodine's speed was about 1 mph off the fastest lap recorded in last week's NASCAR testing at IMS, which was 179.918 by Tony Raines in the No. 74 BACE Motorsports Chevy.

Twenty-six drivers tested today, recording a total of 1799 laps, or 4497.5 miles.

Today's test marked the first time Andretti drove a NASCAR Winston Cup Series car since his departure from Petty Enterprises in June.

"It's nice, because you don't know how good you're going to run," he said. "The track is really slick for some reason. I'm happy with the time. We need to run a little quicker, obviously. The weather is what it is. Tomorrow could be overcast and rainy, and the track will be considerably quicker."

Andretti rated his first day of working with the DEI crew and equipment very highly.

"It's a lot of fun, I can tell you that," he said. "I'm having a good time and enjoying myself. It's rejuvenating.

"I feel like that (fastest) time is not where we're going to end up. It's going to get better and better. Yesterday I hadn't met the guys on the team. I'm just sitting back and having a good time."

Bodine said the Speedway is among his favorites because it's a driver's track.

"First of all, I love it here," he said. "It's a great track. I enjoy momentum tracks and Indy's definitely a momentum track. With the (No.) 66 a couple years ago and the 26 here last year, we've always had good setups and good cars. Here, it's basically the same team with a different number, and the same setup in the car, and we're fast again.

"It's all about timing. The driver can really make or break a lap at this place just by his timing in the corners. It's hard to describe, just a lot of fun having the two corners and short chute on each end. You're really concentrating on getting off (Turns) 2 and 4 and getting down the long straightaways."

Testing continues July 15, with Elliott Sadler joining the lineup from today.

Reserved-seat Race Day tickets for the Brickyard 400 remain available. Tickets and parking can be purchased on the World Wide Web via www.imstix.com or by calling the IMS Ticket Office at (800) 822-INDY or (317) 492-6700.

BRICKYARD 400 TESTING NOTES:

Keeping Penske's Winning Streak Alive: Rusty Wallace's team owner, Roger Penske, has a record 13 wins in the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, including the last three in a row with Helio Castroneves in 2001-02 and Gil de Ferran in 2003. Penske has never won the Brickyard 400, however, and Wallace wants to deliver.

"Well, it's always real important," he said, about driving and winning for Penske. "I always want to win for myself, and my team number one, but it makes it extra special if you can go out and win for Roger, too. He'd love to win a stock car race here, no doubt about it. He talks about it all the time. I just hope I'm the team member that can pull it off for him."

Wallace's teammate, second-year driver Ryan Newman, won Sunday's Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

***

Stewart on Teleconference: Columbus, Ind., native Tony Stewart will participate in the Winston Teleconference at 11:25 (EDT) on Tuesday, July 15. Stewart, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet, will follow PPI Motorsports driver and car owner Ricky Craven and Cal Wells, respectively. Call (877) 531-2988, and provide the passcode, "NASCAR Winston Cup." Press "1" to ask a question.

***

The "Bridesmaid" No More?: Rusty Wallace certainly has one of the most coveted resumes in NASCAR Winston Cup Racing: a series championship (1989) and 54 career wins. He would be happy to score win 55 any given weekend, but the 2003 Brickyard 400 would be special. Wallace has finished second at Indy three times, in 1995, 2000 and 2002 -- the most of any driver. He led 110 laps in 2000, and 12 in the closing laps of the 2002 race, and Wallace is confident 2003 could be the year.

"I'm real excited to be back at the Speedway," he said. "It's monotonous here testing, I've got to tell you, because you're in and out of the car ten thousand times it seems like. We built a brand new car. We brought it here. We've wind tunneled it. It looks great in the wind tunnel and right off the bat I told the guys, 'This has got to be one of the best feeling cars that I've ever unloaded with.' So all day today, we're doing nothing except race practice. Tomorrow morning, we'll put the car in qualifying mode and try to knock out some real fast lap times. Right now, its all systems go. I'm real happy with what I'm seeing."

***

My, How Things Have Changed: Petty Enterprises driver Christian Fittipaldi turned his first laps at Indy since 1995 on July 14. Fittipaldi won 1995 Indianapolis 500 Bank One Rookie of the Year honors after starting 27th and finishing second for Walker Racing.

"I hadn't been back here since '95, when I finished second in the race," said Fittipaldi. "It's a big difference, definitely. The Speedway did an awesome job upgrading its facilities. I had never seen the Formula One track (or) all the other upgrades here in the facility. It's definitely world-class stuff here."

***

Foyt Indy Legacy Continues: A.J. Foyt IV, the grandson of four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt, took his first competitive laps at the Indianapolis 500 in May, and on July 14, A.J. Foyt's son, Larry, got his chance to turn laps on the oval that made his father famous. It was an emotional day for both Larry and A.J.

"My first lap around here was very special," said Larry Foyt. "I've seen so many races here, and I remember my dad waving to us in Turn 2, and it was very special to run on the same track he did. It (the Speedway) is pretty unique. I've been coming here for a long time, but it's a whole different story when you strap in the car. I'm finally seeing and experiencing the things that I've heard my Dad talk about for so long."

Said A.J. Foyt: "It's a brand-new car and Larry's learning the track. The car is not behaving itself. There's a lot of push in it, and we're working on the chassis and making a lot of changes that should make a big difference tomorrow. I'm glad both Anthony (A.J. Foyt IV) and Larry got to race at a track that has meant so much to me in my career. There's only one Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and it's the track that made my name and a lot of others. Indy's very special to me."

***

Former Winners Speak: Defending Brickyard 400 winner Bill Elliott and 1997 winner Ricky Rudd offered comments July 14 on racing and winning at Indianapolis:

BILL ELLIOTT (Asked if it would have been a significant void in his career if he wouldn't have won the Brickyard 400): "I don't know if it would have been a void, but it would have been a place that I would have liked to have won. I've always seemed to run pretty well here and qualify pretty well here, but each year is a little bit different. Last year, I knew Ray (Evernham) and all the guys brought a good car here and it was up to me to make sure I didn't make any mistakes. So we ended up having a flawless day in the Dodge, and that's the things you look for."

RICKY RUDD: "Fortunately, we won here in '97 and we've had a couple of good runs, but it's a very difficult track to run well at. It's very challenging for the teams to get a car to handle well here. It's such a fast track and such fast lap corners on the entrance to the corners. So it presents problems to these guys if they can't get these cars to handle good.

"It's a tremendous place to win at. I think we've won like 23 Winston Cup career races and this one definitely stands at the top of the list."

-ims-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , John Andretti , Bill Elliott , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Todd Bodine , Jimmy Spencer , Ryan Newman , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , A.J. Foyt IV , Larry Foyt , Tony Raines , Ricky Craven , Elliott Sadler , Roger Penske , A.J. Foyt