Jan. 23, 2003 – Three of the top drivers and teams in the IRL
IndyCar Series tested Jan. 22 at Phoenix International Raceway
in preparation for the 2003 IndyCar Series season.
IndyCar Series veteran Robbie Buhl, 1996 IndyCar Series
co-champion Scott Sharp and two-time CART champion Gil de
Ferran all tested 2003 equipment on the 1-mile oval.
Buhl, who co-owns Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, completed
approximately 55 laps in his new Team Purex/Aventis Dreyer &
Reinbold Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone. The test was
crucial for Buhl, as he drove a Panoz G Force/Infiniti
combination from the middle of the 2000 season through the
conclusion of the 2002 season.
“Everything’s new for us, but for the first time out with a
new car, we were very comfortable,” Buhl said. “The
electronics were good; the motor was good. I’m really happy
with the comfort level for where we are. We didn’t get out
until about 2 p.m. (MST), but by the end of the day, we were
close to the guys who’ve already been out running this year.
“It’s definitely there. It’s just nice to be in the car and
run trouble-free. We should do another 200 miles (Thursday)
and learn even more from there.”
John O’Gara, team manager for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, also
was pleased with the first day of testing.
“He (Robbie) didn’t want to get out of the car,” O’Gara said.
“The sun was going down, and it was getting hard to see going
into Turn 1, but he didn’t want to stop. He just wanted to
turn more laps. We never had a problem with anything. We even
came back in and dropped the undertray just to take a look at
everything. If we can have another day like (Wednesday), we’ll
make great progress in learning more about the car.”
Sharp and his Kelley Racing team continued to learn about the
Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone with which they will be
compete in 2003. Sharp, who won the 1998 IndyCar Series event
at Phoenix, first tested the new 2003 car Jan. 8-10 at
“It was a very productive day,” Sharp said. “We were basically
trying to get through and learn about everything new with our
program – the new Dallara chassis, the new Toyota engine and
all of the new faces at Kelley Racing. In very short order, we
need to understand what is going to work well on the car as
well as get to know how our new people work together so the
Delphi team can be the most productive team and the fastest
team on the track.
“We tried a lot of new things on the car today, some of which
worked, some of which didn’t work. But the main thing is that
we did learn quite a bit. I think we were competitive with our
lap times, but we weren’t as concerned with speed as we were
interested in learning what works on the car.”
Kelley Racing Team Manager Paul Harcus indicated that Sharp
turned approximately 170 laps.
“Overall, Wednesday was a decent day of testing,” Harcus said.
“We had some minor problems in the morning, but that is what
testing is about – learning about the glitches and resolving
them before you are in a race weekend situation. We ran quite
a few laps, and we are certainly learning a lot about the new
Dallara. Scott (Sharp) did a good job today, and I definitely
think we are making progress.”
Testing will continue Jan. 23 at Phoenix with de Ferran
testing his Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, Al
Unser Jr. testing his Corteco/Bryant Dallara/Toyota/Firestone
and Buhl continuing to test his Team Purex/Aventis Dreyer &
Reinbold Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.
The IndyCar Series season starts with the Toyota Indy 300 on
March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The Copper World Indy 200
will be March 23 at Phoenix International Raceway. Both races
will be broadcast live on ABC and the Indianapolis Motor
Speedway Radio Network.
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