Testing the track at 216 mph
Close finishes have become the norm for IRL Indy Car Series races at Kansas Speedway and as drivers took a break from testing for the Kansas Lottery Indy 300, they say they expect more of the same when the series returns in July.
Panther Racing driver Vitor Meira has been a part of some of the closest finishes in IRL history. He lost to then-teammate, Buddy Rice, by only five-thousandths of a second at Kansas Speedway in 2004.
"It just brings very good memories," Meira said of Kansas Speedway. ¿It's fast, there¿s always close racing and I love it.¿
The Indy Racing league drivers tested Kansas Speedway on Tuesday as part if a League open test.
Tony Kanaan, the driver who beat Meira to the checkers at Kansas Speedway in 2005, returns July 2 to defend his title. He remembers the 1-2-3 finish that had three cars separated by just two one-hundredths of a second. Kanaan held off hard-charging teammate and eventual series champion Dan Wheldon and Meira at the line.
The Andretti Green driver, who currently sits fifth in the IRL point standings, said Kansas Speedway¿s layout provides memorable finishes for the fans.
¿It¿s such a good track,¿ the Brazilian driver said. ¿For sure the banking makes the racing closer. It¿s the shape and nature of this race track that makes it exciting.¿
Danica Patrick captured her first pole position last year at Kansas Speedway. She said she enjoys racing at the track, but following practice said her team had some catching up to do.
The three Rahal Letterman drivers were slowest in testing, likely a result from the team¿s transition from Panoz to Dallara chassis. Patrick said the team also continues to look for the right setup at mile-and-a-half tracks.
Rookie sensation and Indianapolis 500 runner-up Marco Andretti got a feel for the track during testing. He said he enjoyed his first visit to ¿The Track that Will Blow You Away¿ on Tuesday.
The 19-year-old driver said his experience at other tracks similar to Kansas Speedway would better prepare him. While he remains optimistic, he said the team still needs to make improvements before he hits the track in July.
¿Our whole team really needs to find speed,¿ Andretti said. ¿We are definitely in a rut that we need to dig ourselves out of.¿
Target Chip Ganassi and Marlboro Team Penske topped the testing speed charts, with 2003 series champion Scott Dixon leading the way with the day¿s fastest lap ¿ 216.021 mph.
The IRL Indy Car Series returns to Kansas Speedway in July for the running of the Kansas Lottery Indy 300 on July 2. Fans can catch all the action by purchasing tickets by calling 913.328.RACE or toll free at 866.460.RACE (7223).