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Indy Cars Invade Daytona

Indy Cars Invade Daytona

Indy Cars Invade Daytona
Jorge A. Mondaca
Assistant Editor

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – What once seemed like an unlikely scenario – Indy Cars thundering around the stock car cathedral that is Daytona International Speedway – will become reality at 10 a.m. on Wednesday as the IRL IndyCar Series begins a two-day test at "The World Center of Racing."

A total of 17 teams have descended upon Daytona Beach in preparation for the two-day test, which will be run on a 10-turn, 2.73 mile course which incorporates part of the road course used by Grand-Am and the motorcycle course used during AMA events.

While the test appears to be a novelty, since the speedway has not hosted Indy-style cars since April 1959 and does not appear on the IRL schedule this season, it is anything but as teams present will use the session to prepare for the five road course events on the schedule (St. Petersburg, Watkins Glen, Mid Ohio, Infineon and Belle Isle). Also, it will be the first time all the 3.5-liter Honda engines will be using 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol, making it a vital test in the eyes of engineers and team members.

"We test every year on road courses, as an example last year we had an open test at Homestead and although we don't race (on that configuration), we learned an awful lot," said Mike Hull, Managing Director for Target Chip Ganassi Racing. "Basically in testing, what we do is you've got to understand the tuning changes and the parameters that affect the car the greatest, and we can learn all of those things at Daytona."

For the drivers themselves, all that matters is that they get behind the wheel once again since the series has not raced since last season’s event at Chicagoland Speedway on September 10.

"You get to the point where you just want it to start," said 2005 Champion Dan Wheldon, driver of the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Dallara-Honda. "I’m just ready for the season to start; it’s been too much time off.

"It’s always good to be around the people you are going to race, not just a few of them but all of them and see where you stand."

However, that doesn’t mean that the uniqueness of the event is lost on any of the drivers.

"The bottom line is, it's Daytona, so it's real exciting, really, really cool to be at that track just knowing all the history that that place has," said Vitor Meira.

This week’s test session comes as a result of a compatibility test that took place last September. At that time, four teams (Andretti Green Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, Panther Racing and Penske Racing) tested on the circuit so that the series and track officials could see whether the venue would be suitable as a warm weather preseason testing venue.

While no plans are currently in place for NASCAR’s most revered track to host an IRL race, that subject is sure to be a hot topic during and after the test.

"We’re just racecar drivers. If you give a car and racetrack we’re going to race. There’s a lot more things involved to make this happen, but if the intention wasn’t there. We wouldn’t be here," said Tony Kanaan after the compatibility test. "They’re evaluating and asking us all the time, ‘what’s going on? How can we make it better?’ Working together with the IRL and the drivers we can push to make it happen."

Spectators can watch the IndyCar Series Open Test at Daytona International Speedway from the Nextel FanZone by purchasing a $10 Daytona USA track tour ticket on both days. Along with watching the action on the track, fans can also try their hand at racing on the IndyCar Series simulators that will be in the Nextel FanZone both days.

For those unable to attend the test in person, RacingOne will provide complete coverage from Daytona International Speedway including news, notes and much more.

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Re: Indy Cars Invade Daytona

mvbski wrote:

While no plans are currently in place for NASCAR’s most revered track to host an IRL race, that subject is sure to be a hot topic during and after the test.

I would love to see them race at Daytona  smile

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Re: Indy Cars Invade Daytona

Kanaan Claims Bragging Rights
Jorge A. Mondaca
Assistant Editor

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Tony Kanaan secured bragging rights at Daytona International Speedway Wednesday by running the fastest lap of the first day of IRL IndyCar Series testing at the historic venue, recording a lap of 135.549 mph only seconds before the end of the session.

Kanaan, driver of the No. 11 7-Eleven Dallara-Honda for Andretti Green Racing, was amongst the five fastest all day, but saved his best lap for his final tour of the day on the 2.73-mile circuit.

"It’s a good first day," Kanaan said. "We are really not too worried about where we are going to finish, but obviously, when you finish like that on a day like this it makes you feel good.

"It’s early, this means nothing, we don’t race here – we are just testing. What I am happy about today is not the position I finished but what I accomplished. But I still have to brag a little bit."

This morning’s fastest driver, Penske Racing’s Helio Castroneves, finished just behind his Brazilian countryman with a lap of 135.313 mph – which he also achieved on the last of his 39 laps in the afternoon.

Target Chip Ganassi’s Dan Wheldon (135.226 mph), Andretti Green’s Dario Franchitti (135.134 mph) and Penske’s Sam Hornish Jr. (135.056 mph) rounded out the top five fastest laps of the session, which saw a total of 17 drivers set times.

Vitor Meira completed the most laps in the session with 83 circuits total, running with Delphi sponsorship on his Panther Dallara for the first time.

In the morning, Castroneves set the pace by running a fast lap of 133.542 mph around the 10-turn course.

Kanaan (132.473 mph), Scott Dixon (132.417 mph), Hornish (132.387 mph) and Wheldon rounded out the top five in the session.

The newest member of the Andretti Green stable, Danica Patrick, had seating issues which forced her to run only one lap in the morning. However, the team corrected the issue in the afternoon and she was able to run a total of 55 laps, with a best of 131.439 mph (14th fastest).

Patrick was amongst six drivers who were competing with new teams starting today – Rahal Letterman Racing’s Scott Sharp (133.118 mph – eighth fastest), Super Aguri Panther Racing’s Kosuke Matsuura (133.006 mph – ninth fastest), A.J. Foyt Enterprises’ Darren Manning (131.854 mph – 12th fastest), Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s Buddy Rice (131.314 mph – 15th fastest) and Vision Racing’s A.J. Foyt IV (127.984 mph – 17th fastest).

The day saw a total of 12 yellow flag periods. However, no driver suffered any heavy damage to their vehicles.

Scott Sharp, driver of the No. 8 Petron Dallara-Honda, was the first driver to start a full lap in today’s session at 10:04 a.m. (ET).

Teams and drivers return Thursday for the final day of testing at Daytona. The day’s session will start at 10 a.m. with a two hour session, followed by the final four hour session from 1 – 5 p.m. (ET).

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Re: Indy Cars Invade Daytona

Castroneves Beats Daytona Rain

Jorge A. Mondaca
Assistant Editor

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – After leading the Thursday morning session, Helio Castroneves set the fastest lap time at Daytona International Speedway in the afternoon before rain showers disrupted the final day of testing for the IRL IndyCar Series at the famed speedway.

The Penske Racing driver set a fast lap of 135.335 mph shortly after 2:30 p.m. (ET) when rain hit the Daytona Beach area. Although the skies cleared a short time later, teams decided they had done enough testing in the two days and at 3:50 p.m. (ET), the session was called early.

"So far, so good," Castroneves said. "I have to say that obviously you want to be on top, but it’s irrelevant. Obviously it’s a track that is a very different layout. I’m focused on trying to find the spots that are very close to St. Petersburg – sections, corners, things like that."

Tony Kanaan (134.145 mph), Scott Dixon (134.120 mph), Dan Wheldon (134.086 mph) and Marco Andretti (133.887 mph) rounded out the top five fastest of the abbreviated Thursday afternoon session.

While he was fastest on Thursday, Castroneves’ lap was second fastest of the two-day test – just behind Wednesday’s best of 135.549 mph by Kanaan.

"I think we did some positive things during the test to the Team 7-Eleven car. We seemed to go back a step in the last session today but I think we learned some things and that's what we were here to do," said Kanaan. "It felt good to finish at the top yesterday and to post the overall top speed during the test. I’m really happy for the guys on the Team 7-Eleven crew and the rest of the team. We've made up some ground and have to keep working to get better."

By comparison to the first day, where teams ran a total of 681 laps in the afternoon hours, today saw only 313 laps completed in the short afternoon.

In the morning, Castroneves set the pace with a fast lap of 134.852 mph.

Defending series champion and Penske Racing teammate Sam Hornish Jr. was second fastest in the morning with a fast lap of 134.566 mph with Wheldon (134.438 mph), Kanaan (134.299 mph), and Scott Sharp (133.456 mph) rounding out the top five.

Unfortunately for Sharp, his day will mostly be remembered for his accident at 11:25 a.m. when he went off course at the chicane and made contact with the wall, damaging the rear wing and right-rear suspension. The Patron Spirits Rahal Letterman Racing team worked to make repairs, but because the rain showers cut the afternoon short, they were unable to return and became the sole team not to turn laps in the final session.

Sharp’s accident was the only incident in the two days that caused any damage to vehicles.

Vision Racing’s Ed Carpenter leaves as the driver who completed the most laps at Daytona, having turned 131 circuits around the 10-turn course.

With the completion of this week’s test, teams and drivers now have their eyes set towards the next open test session at Homestead-Miami Speedway on February 21 in anticipation for the season opener, the XM Satellite Radio 300 on March 24.

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