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Latest IRL News and Commentary

Road racers lead day 3 at Indy

May 7, 2002

Frenchman Laurent Redon
Photo: Indy Motor Speedway

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, May 7, 2002 – Rookie Laurent Redon turned the fastest speed of the month during practice May 7 for the 86th Indianapolis 500, ripping off a fast lap of 39.1631 seconds, 229.808 mph at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Redon’s best lap in the No. 34 Mi-Jack Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone came during the final hour of practice, which ended 20 minutes early due to a crash by rookie PJ Jones in Turn 1. Redon’s previous fastest lap of the event was 39.7972, 226.147 on Monday.

“It was great,” Redon said of his fast lap today. “I think we have to keep working. We had a little tow, but I’m pretty sure we are close to the best we can do. The team has worked so hard, and I’d really like to thank the Mi-Jack/Conquest team for all of their efforts.

“Right now I am at 95 percent, and I don’t want to be at 100 percent before qualifying. I don’t know if I can go faster, but I’ll try. I’m sure we have to be faster to be on the pole, so it’s something we have to work on.”

The previous best lap of the event was 39.5481, 227.571 by Scott Sharp on Sunday. But four drivers – Redon, Bruno Junqueira, Sharp and defending race champion Helio Castroneves – topped that lap today.

And Redon, from Chamond, France, recorded the dominant lap among that foursome. Junqueira was second fastest at 39.3759, 228.566 in the No. 33 Target Chip Ganassi G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone, nearly 1.3 mph slower than Redon.

2001 MBNA Pole winner Sharp was third at 39.4503, 228.135 in the No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, with Castroneves fourth at 39.5367, 227.637 in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.

Jones spun in Turn 1 at 5:40 p.m. (EST) and made contact with the rear of the car with the outside SAFER barrier. The No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone then slid to the inside of the track, crossed the warm-up lane and hit the inside guardrail with the left side of the car. Jones stepped from the car with assistance. He was awake and alert when transported to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis for precautionary X-rays.

The start of practice was delayed by rain for the second consecutive day. Practice started at 2:08 p.m. (EST), after a delay of three hours and eight minutes.

Despite the late start, this was the busiest day of practice so far, with 32 drivers in 36 cars combining to turn 1,134 laps. Former Formula One winner

Johnny Herbert turned his first official practice laps at the Speedway, topping out at 41.1068, 218.942 in the No. 32 WESTERN UNION/Duesenberg Brothers Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.

Practice resumes at 11 a.m. (EST) Wednesday. Pole Day qualifications start at 11 a.m. (EST) Saturday. The 86th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for 11 a.m. (EST) Sunday, May 26.  --IMS--



Rank Car Driver C/E/T Time Speed Lap Difference
1 34 Redon, Laurent D/I/F 39.1631 229.808 28
2 33 Junqueira, Bruno G/C/F 39.3759 228.566 19 +0.2128
3 8 Sharp, Scott D/C/F 39.4503 228.135 29 +0.2872
4 3 Castroneves, Helio D/C/F 39.5367 227.637 26 +0.3736
5 51 Cheever Jr, Eddie D/I/F 39.5756 227.413 26 +0.4125
6 2 Jones, PJ D/C/F 39.6037 227.251 24 +0.4406
7 4 Hornish Jr, Sam D/C/F 39.6722 226.859 10 +0.5091
8 20 Dismore, Mark D/C/F 39.7314 226.521 49 +0.5683
9 51T Cheever Jr, Eddie D/I/F 39.7352 226.499 10 +0.5721
10 91 Lazier, Buddy D/C/F 39.7455 226.441 45 +0.5824
11 7T Unser Jr, Al D/C/F 39.7526 226.400 8 +0.5895
12 24 Buhl, Robbie G/I/F 39.7883 226.197 9 +0.6252
13 9 Ward, Jeff G/C/F 39.8330 225.943 14 +0.6699
14 55 Treadway, Rick G/C/F 39.8415 225.895 28 +0.6784
15 22 Brack, Kenny G/C/F 39.8786 225.685 36 +0.7155
16 17 Kanaan, Tony G/C/F 39.9062 225.529 27 +0.7431
17 7 Unser Jr, Al D/C/F 39.9070 225.524 15 +0.7439
18 44T Barron, Alex D/C/F 39.9298 225.396 16 +0.7667
19 5 Luyendyk, Arie G/C/F 39.9515 225.273 17 +0.7884
20 39 Andretti, Michael D/C/F 39.9589 225.231 60 +0.7958
21 8T Sharp, Scott D/C/F 39.9773 225.128 8 +0.8142
22 27 Franchitti, Dario D/C/F 40.0005 224.997 46 +0.8374
23 24T Buhl, Robbie G/I/F 40.0156 224.912 9 +0.8525
24 19T Vasser, Jimmy D/C/F 40.1264 224.291 25 +0.9633
25 11 Ray, Greg D/C/F 40.2399 223.659 36 +1.0768
26 6 de Ferran, Gil D/C/F 40.2598 223.548 23 +1.0967
27 53 Papis, Max D/I/F 40.3099 223.270 18 +1.1468
28 14 Dare, Airton D/C/F 40.3154 223.240 44 +1.1523
29 19 Vasser, Jimmy D/C/F 40.3334 223.140 5 +1.1703
30 30 Mack, George G/C/F 40.7036 221.111 23 +1.5405
31 99 Lazzaro, Anthony D/C/F 40.9317 219.878 32 +1.7686
32 26 Tracy, Paul D/C/F 40.9398 219.835 4 +1.7767
33 98 Boat, Billy D/C/F 41.0503 219.243 5 +1.8872
34 32 Herbert, Johnny D/C/F 41.1068 218.942 7 +1.9437
35 37T de Vries, John D/C/F 41.9136 214.727 16 +2.7505
36 12 Hattori, Shigeaki D/I/F 42.2531 213.002 14 +3.0900
37 37T Harrington, Scott D/C/F 43.1815 208.423 4 +4.0184



BILLY BOAT (No. 98 CURB Records Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Unfortunately, the CURB Records car broke a gear in the gearbox on our second hot lap today. This is not a tremendous setback, but when you break a gear like that, it puts a lot of little metal shavings in the gearbox. So the gearbox on our primary car is going to have to be completely gone through. Unfortunately, the tests that we need to run, we need to do with that car, so it 's a little bit of a setback for us. We'll get everything together and be back ready to go in the morning."

MARK DISMORE (No. 20 Grill 2 Go Sam Schmidt Motorsports Indy Car Dallara/ Chevrolet/Firestone): "Today went really well. Everyday we just keep progressing and learning. I'm really happy. We just have to keep doing what we're doing, just keep taking baby steps. Hopefully by Saturday we'll be up and walking. I've been driving around the interstate at 70 mph for the last eight months, and Sunday I came out here and got in this thing. I think my fifth or sixth lap was a 220 (mph). I'm not sure that was very smart, but did it feel fast. I had forgotten how fast these things feel out here."

EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):
“The Red Bull Cheever Racing Infiniti is really good. We didn’t get to put new tires on the car for Happy Hour today, but we are making progress on the balance of the car. The speeds are quick. Redon’s time is very fast. I am glad to see that it’s an Infiniti on the top of the charts. I am looking forward to having my young teammate, Tomas (Scheckter), back. He is an integral part of Red Bull Cheever Racing. He does a very good job as a test driver. As far as technical feedback, he covers one aspect, and I cover another. We balance each other out. I hope he has learned the lesson that he is not out there racing by himself. The team is better when he is here; the team is worse when he is not here. I just hope he gets it through his head that he must change his approach to how he drives in traffic. He is very talented, and everyone on the team has missed his work ethic these past three days of practice. There is one-half of one percent of Tomas’ driving style that needs to change to make him a great oval racing driver.

JOHN DE VRIES (No. Pit Bull Energy Drink/Rhino Cleaning Products Dallara/ Chevrolet/Firestone): “Today’s practice was quite brief. I had less than 20 laps under my belt, but the car just didn’t feel right. Late in the afternoon, Scott (Harrington) got in to evaluate the vehicle, and he immediately brought it in due to a heavy push. I’ve learned here that patience is a must, and we’ll just iron out the kinks one at a time.”

ALEX BARRON (No. 44 Rayovac Blair Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "This is our third day of the month on the track, and we also tested here two days before that. For five actual days of running at Indy, we are where I thought we'd be. We are working on our race setup and running alone and not getting the tow. The track keeps changing. With the morning rain, it is green and slick when we first go out, and in the afternoon, it has a lot of grip after everyone has run. The wind is changing a lot of things we are doing. We are comfortable with the car, but we still need to find more speed."

MAX PAPIS (No. 53 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We didn't get in much practice today. We were trying to get a good feeling in the Red Bull Cheever Racing Infiniti. We made a couple of changes today. In the beginning, things didn't seem right, so we changed the car back to what we knew, and the car came back. We only did two runs today, so I am hoping that tomorrow we can practice all day long."

GIL DE FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I felt a vibration in the car at the beginning of the practice session. The vibration continued to get worse as the day went on, so we decided to come in and find out what was causing it. We changed a few things on the Marlboro Team Penske car that we thought might have contributed to the vibration. Unfortunately, we couldn't get back out before the session ended."

AIRTON DARE (No. 14 Harrah’s/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): “We made a lot of changes on the car. I think we improved a lot since we started this afternoon, which is very good. We’re still far off – like 2 mph off the pace – but we’re not concerned about that because the motor we’re running here is an old motor. We just put it on to set up the car. I think tomorrow we’ll get with the group. We’ll get the speeds that we need to be running.”

BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Coors Light/Life Fitness/Tae-Bo/Delta Faucet Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): “We just keep progressing as the week moves on. I did start to get comfortable today. We think that there is more time to be gained on the table. Again, today was really the first day that I was comfortable as a driver. Me and the race car together were comfortable for the first time today. Personally, I don’t worry about the weather. There’s so much time here during the month of May, the Indy 500. It’s just awesome to be here. We have so much time that personally, I just don’t worry about the weather or conditions. You always take that into consideration, the engineers do, but as a driver, we just don’t let any of that worry us. We have so much practice time that we’re going to get what we need.”

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (No. 33 Target Chip Ganassi Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): “Wow, that was a great day for us. I was really hoping to be the fastest out there today, but I’ll take second, for now. As a driver, I always want to be the fastest guy out there every day. That is what motivates me. I’m very impressed with how well this team has done so far. The guys at Team Target are constantly trying to find ways to make the car better and better. We keep making changes to the car, and it keeps getting faster and faster. We have been working this week on making the car good for qualifying. Every change that we make seems to make it better. I still think that we need to go faster to be a threat for the pole. I think that if we can find a few more miles per hour, we’ll be in good shape.”

KENNY BRACK (No. 22 Target Chip Ganassi Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone):
“Well, we’re making a lot of changes to the car. Some work and some don’t. That is why it is good to have these days of practice. We can try a lot of different combinations to see which one works the best. We still have some things to try before Saturday’s qualifying, and we have a few days to get it done. It was good to get out there and run today. This morning, the weather didn’t look very good, but it turned into a great day.”

JEFF WARD (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): “We got a lot of good work done on the car today. It is getting better and better, little by little. I think that by Saturday, we’ll have a pretty good car. It’s great to be with a winning organization like Team Target. They have the resources and the people to get the job done right. We’re just a little off where we need to be, but we have a few more days to get it right. I’m confident that they’ll be able to do that.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):
"Because of all the rain, we began today with similar track conditions as yesterday. However, there was much less wind, which helped everyone go faster. We're working very hard on getting the Marlboro Team Penske car just right for qualifying. We're trying to see how fast we can run on our own so that we have a good gauge on what to expect this Saturday."

JIMMY VASSER (No. 19 Miller Lite/Rahal Letterman Racing Dallara/ Chevrolet/ Firestone): “The lap times are not where we want them to be right now, but the cars really feel good. We do have some tricks coming later in the week that should help our speed. It seems like we always found ourselves out on the track by ourselves where there was no chance to get a tow or draft. Certainly, we have gone quicker with a tow, but I’m really happy with how the Miller Lite car feels at this point. We tried different setups on the cars, and we learned a lot. That was good for us. The cars feel pretty solid. It’s just a matter of squeezing a little more speed out of them. Conditions today were cooler and cloudy, which was pretty close to ideal. That’s why the speeds jumped so much. It could be different later with more heat.”

MICHAEL ANDRETTI (No. 39 Motorola/Archipelago Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): “We made a lot of progress with the Motorola/Archipelago car today. We worked on our qualifying setup most of the afternoon, and the time I did was truly by myself, without a tow. Considering a lot of the quick times are with a tow, I think we’re in pretty decent shape. Turn 1 had been a problem corner the last couple of days, but we kept making changes to the car and chipping away at it, and it’s getting better and better. We’re still not where we want to be for qualifying, but the car is definitely better than where we started the day. I’m happy with the direction we’re headed, and I just hope we can get some cooperation with the weather and get some more solid running in before Saturday’s qualifications.”

PAUL TRACY (No. 26 Team Green 7-Eleven Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): “Today was really tough. We had to wait out the rain for several hours, and then just four laps into my first run I hit the wall. It damaged the right side of the car, and we weren't able to go back out. The car had a lot of understeer, and I did all I could to get through Turn 1, but it just kept tracking to the wall. We will be ready to go again tomorrow. The Team Green 7-Eleven crew is still learning the car and trying to find a good setup. It's either loose or pushing right now, and we don't have a handle on it yet. To be fast at Indy, your car has to handle well and right now ours isn't.”

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Team Green 7-Eleven Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): “The car was much better today. We're still not there, but yesterday we were at 40 percent, and I think we are more like 80 percent today. We were on a better lap than our fastest one, but I saw a fuel warning and had to back off, so that was a shame. After spending a good majority of the day working on our race balance, we are considerably happier. During the final hour of practice we turned our attention to qualifications. Team Green 7-Eleven is much closer to finding a setup for qualifying, and tomorrow we will run some more and continue the learning process. We are just making small changes to the car to find improvements because at Indy you don't really make any big changes, you just fine tune the car to the current track condition.”

JOHNNY HERBERT (No. 32 WESTERN UNION/Duesenberg Brothers Racing Dallara/ Chevrolet/Firestone): "At least we got out briefly for a bit of a reminder of the track following testing in April. It would have been nice to put in more laps right there before the track closed, but that wasn't to be. We'll just pick up from this point as soon as the weather allows more practice in the coming days."

GREG RAY (No. 11 A.J. Foyt Racing/Harrah’s Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): “We’re dancing around the edge on the setup. Not knowing how much time we would get in before qualifying because of the weather, we made some pretty big changes on the setup today and learned what worked and what didn’t. We’re still trying to pinpoint the basic package of chassis, aero and tires, and we’re close. Once we nail it, it will just be a matter of fine-tuning with small changes. We’ll have a new motor in for tomorrow, and we’ll pick up some speed with that.”

ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Team Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/ Infiniti/Firestone): “We did exactly what we set out to do today. We got the car balanced and trimmed it out, so now we can go fast. We learned we had a good platform, which carried over from last year, and we know the strength of the Infiniti power plant. We turned a few laps in both cars, and the fourth lap out turned a 225 (mph) in the second car, so we know we've got two cars that are going to be very competitive. We're learning, and we're building on a strong base of where we've been here before. We were running a race setup and were still up with the top 12 today. Now we can move over to focus on a qualifying ride.”

ARIE LUYENDYK (No. 5 Meijer G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): “We weren't able to get in as much work today as we would have liked. In the mid-afternoon, we had to take the car back to the garage to make an adjustment on the engine mapping. I was sitting in the car, ready to go, with about 20 minutes left when the yellow came out (for PJ Jones accident). So, I never got out at the end of the day. We should be all set to go when the track opens on Wednesday.”

ANTHONY LAZZARO (No. 99 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Racing Special Dallara/ Chevrolet/ Firestone): “Today the guys gave me a car that I have a lot of confidence in. I don’t think the speed on the charts represents what we’re capable of. We’ve played with a variety of setups over the last three days. Now we can concentrate on making the small changes, and I can focus on my driving.”

LAURENT REDON (No. 34 Mi-Jack Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): “For sure, I was surprised. I knew that I was going to do a good lap, but 229.8 (mph), I was not expecting that speed. Of course, I'm happy. I had a good tow, but at the end you know the problem with the tow here you have the gears. So on the backstraight we hit the rev limiter pretty early. We had a look on the data, and we were pretty quick because the slowest speed during the lap was 226.5 (mph), I think. So a tow doesn't help you in the corners because you're losing downforce. At the end, I was pretty sure we were going to do the best lap of the day, but maybe not (2)29.8 (mph). We're rookies here because the team is (here for) the first time. It's a first time for me, it's a first time for my engineer, so each lap we learn a lot. A lap like this here, we're not used to that speed, so we're going to have a lot of data, and we're going to work on it and try to do it on Saturday. The tires you have five laps, five to six laps, which is pretty much terday did a very good job with this, and today we were quick too. The winds blowing on the backstraight from this straight, and yesterday it was the opposite. The conditions were really different. We could adjust the car to make it work, and that's what makes me feel pretty happy right now. (2)29.8 (mph) is a really quick lap, but I think I'm more happy by the way we were in the top five the three days of testing we did already.” (About the Infiniti engine): “The engine is so good. Many people were concerned if the engine is strong enough or the problems since the beginning, but they are working so hard for Indy. They came with many new things for the engine, and I think right now (there are) five cars running with Infiniti power engines, and nobody has any problems with the engine. I cross my fingers, but right now the engine is really good. A big part of the (2)29.8 (mph) comes from the engine because it's really good." (Are you thinking about the front row now?): "I'm just thinking our goal is to qualify.


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