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Latest IRL News and Commentary

IRL testing in Phoenix

January 23, 2003

PHOENIX, Thursday, 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 Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“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.

For ticket information for the season opener at Homestead, call (305) 230-RACE or visit www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com. For tickets to the Phoenix event, call (602) 252-2227 or visit www.phoenixintlraceway.com. ”

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