Homestead Is Hornishs
February 24, 2001 | 12:00 A.M. EST
The final practice session of the two-day Indy Racing Northern Light Series open test at Homestead-Miami Speedway concluded with defending champion Buddy Lazier atop the speed charts Saturday afternoon.
Lazier turned in a 196.970 mph lap in his Hemelgarn Racing No. 91 at the 1.5-mile oval. Although strong winds kept speeds below the 200-mph mark, Lazier was happy with his test.
"Really, we ran our fastest time today (Saturday) in the wind this afternoon," Lazier said. "We learned a lot. We tested here one time before (at more than 200 mph), and we feel good because we ran our fastest today in the wind.
"This was a huge learning curve for us. We took in a lot of data. It's been a very productive test."
Airton Dare, Jeff Ward, Greg Ray and Sarah Fisher rounded out the Top 5 afternoon speeds Saturday. Only eight drivers participated in the afternoon session.
It was Sam Hornish Jr., however, who was the story of the weekend.
He turned in the fastest lap of the two-day session on Friday afternoon when he went 200.134 mph. On Saturday he was fastest again, at 198.629 mph. After his fast lap, Hornish hit the wall in Turn 4.
"I was going through Turns 3 and 4, and I was halfway through the corner and lost it," Hornish. "There was a gust of wind. I just couldn't keep up with it. The back end came around. I don't like to make the guys work any harder. I feel fine. I'm just disappointed. I don't like to make the guys fix wrecked cars."
Hornish is driving Pennzoil Panther Racing’s No. 4.
Fisher also crashed in Saturday’s afternoon session. She was uninjured.
In all, IRNLS drivers turned in 3,110 miles of testing in the second open test of the season.
Afternoon Top Speeds
Driver No. Speed
Buddy Lazier 91 196.970
Airton Dare 88 196.650
Jeff Ward 35 192.739
Greg Ray 2 191.970
Sarah Fisher 15 190.233
Robbie Buhl 24 189.316
Buzz Calkins 12 186.509
Stan Wattles 92 69.575
Overall Top Speeds
Driver No. Speed
Sam Hornish Jr. 4 200.134 mph
Eliseo Salazar 14 198.425 mph
Buddy Lazier 91 198.127 mph
Jeff Ward 35 197.994 mph
Felipe Giaffone 21 197.696 mph
Greg Ray 2 197.463 mph
Stan Wattles 92 197.029 mph
Airton Dare 88 196.650 mph
Eddie Cheever Jr. 51 195.377 mph
Sarah Fisher 15 194.154 mph
Robbie Buhl 24 193.151 mph
Buzz Calkins 12 192.193 mph
Jon Herb 18 190.523 mph
Tyce Carlson 18T 190.264 mph
He didn’t break 200 mph, but Sam Hornish Jr. still topped the speed charts on Day 2 of the Indy Racing Northern Light Series open test, turning in a 198.629 lap in Saturday’s morning session at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Hornish reeled off his top speed just 11 laps after taking his No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara-Aurora onto the track.
Eliseo Salazar was close behind with a 198.425 mph lap in A.J. Foyt’s No. 14 Dallara-Aurora. He, too, found speed early. Salazar’s top lap came on his 18th and final lap.
Jeff Ward, Stan Wattles and Greg Ray rounded out the top five speeds.
Ward was impressive, considering the Heritage Motorsports team is only a month old.
"It really didn't get cranking until mid-January," said Ward, who drove for A.J. Foyt last season but was cut loose when Foyt pared down to a one-car team. "We came down here just to shake the cobwebs out. I haven't been in a car since the Texas race (last October)."
Eddie Cheever Jr. was the busiest driver on Homestead’s 1.5-mile flat oval. He completed 98 laps in his No. 51 Dallara-Infiniti, producing a quick lap of 195.377 mph.
Check back with RacingOne.com for a full report on the final session of IRNLS open testing Saturday afternoon.
Driver No. Speed
Sam Hornish 4 198.629
Eliseo Salazar 14 198.425
Jeff Ward 35 197.994
Stan Wattles 92 196.571
Greg Ray 2 196.360
Buddy Lazier 91 196.331
Eddie Cheever Jr. 51 195.377
Robbie Buhl 24 194.928
Sarah Fisher 15 194.154
Airton Dare 88 193.785
Buzz Calkins 12 192.193
Jon Herb 18 190.523