Itest In The West:/I Whos Not There

The Test in the West at Phoenix International Raceway this week provides eager fans with some actual on-track activity, but along with who’s there, who’s not there is a story itself.

Here’s a brief rundown of some of the Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers and teams skipping the annual open test.

A.J. Foyt Enterprises: Never been big on testing, and with a NASCAR Winston Cup and Busch Series team to take care of, Foyt’s absence is not totally a surprise. Veteran Eliseo Salazar will have to wait to make his debut in the legendary No. 14.

Blueprint Racing: The team has yet to solidify its plans for 2001. Driver Jimmy Kite could use the seat time, but it won’t be in Phoenix.

Bradley Motorsports: The longtime team had planned on taking part in the test, but a crash at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Wednesday put an end to that. Buzz Calkins was uninjured in the crash, but the car suffered severe damage.

Cahill Racing: This team hasn’t announced anything official, so it’s absence is understandable.

Cunningham Racing: Instead of traveling to Phoenix, the new team featuring Shigeaki Hattori behind the wheel tested at Homestead-Miami Speedway this week.

Davey Hamilton: Once thought to be running with Treadway-Hubbard Racing for at least the first four races of the season, Davey Hamilton was released from the team in late January. Several Treadway-Hubbard officials contacted by RacingOne refused to comment on the situation. Looks as if Hamilton’s streak of starting every IRNLS race could be in jeopardy. Hamilton’s one-time teammate at Treadway, Felipe Giaffone, is participating in the Test in the West.

Kelley Racing: Kelley Racing prefers private test sessions, according to Mark Dismore, who was testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway this week with teammate Scott Sharp. “I believe we’re going to be at Phoenix ourselves later in the month, and there will probably be one or two other teams with us,” Dismore said. “We just felt like with the time available on the track, we could get a lot more done all by ourselves in two days than what we could in a couple of days with 20 other people there.”

Heritage Motorsports: This new team just formed within the past couple weeks. Its participation in the Test in the West would have been an unlikely undertaking.

Indy Regency Racing: This team had hopes of campaigning rookie Cory Witherill for the most of the 13-race IRNLS season if sponsorship could be found. Skipping the Test in the West could be a sign the team is still trying to put together its plans.

Logan Racing: This team has not announced its intentions for the 2001 season, but the team participated in the final few races of the 2000 schedule with no sponsorship. Without a sponsor so far in 2001, testing just isn’t in the budget.

McCormack-Byrd Motorsports: Another underfunded team that hasn’t revealed its plans for the season.

Mid-America Motorsports: Yet another underfunded team that hasn’t revealed its plans for the season.

Norton Motorsports: This team owned in part by former heavyweight boxing champion Ken Norton has named its driver, supermodified hotshoe Troy Regier, but the deal just came together in the past month. It hasn’t began testing.

PDM Racing: This team tested Jeret Schroeder and Scott Mayer at Phoenix on Wednesday, but it isn’t schedule to take part in the Test in the West. Maybe the team will stay and make an appearance, or at least an announcement about its plans for 2001.

Scott Goodyear: Goodyear has a standing offer to join Eddie Cheever's team in 2001 if funding can be found. If funding can't be found, Goodyear will likely join Cheever at Indianapolis, at least. Cheever will be at the Test in the West in his No. 51, but Goodyear won't. That tells us Cheever doesn't want to risk a wreck of his No. 52. He wants to save it for Indy. If a sponsor were on board with sufficient funding, that wouldn't be a problem, would it?

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