Herbert Fast In Kentucky Test
August 14, 2001 | 11:59 A.M. EST
Former Formula One star Johnny Herbert, 37, tested for more than three hours in a Heritage Motorsports G Force-Infiniti at the 1.5-mile track, and by all accounts it was a successful test.
“I’m very happy with the test today,” Herbert said. “I’ve only accumulated about a day’s worth of experience on the oval tracks, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the opportunities.”
Herbert turned in a top speed of more than 214 mph, which would have been good enough to put him on the front row of Sunday’s Belterra Casino Resort Indy 300. Scott Sharp won the pole for the race with a speed of 214.598 mph. Mark Dismore was second fastest at 213.646 mph.
“I bit into this weekend’s pole speed,” said Herbert, who also tested a Champ car on an oval in Rockingham, England, last week. “With this ride, I could have qualified on the front row of yesterday’s race.
“This is a very drivable engine. It’s very powerful in the right places on the track. It provides a very interesting drive, which I enjoyed. I was able to keep the momentum up all the way around the oval.”
Heritage Motorsports has been using an Oldsmobile-Aurora engine this season, but tested the new Infiniti 35A powerplant as the team prepares for a possible switch next season.
“This was a great test for the team,” said John Mecom III, co-owner of Heritage Motorsports. “The conditions today were very comparable to Sunday’s race, so we’re able to make a close comparison of the data we’ve accumulated. That was the goal of the test. We learned a lot about the G-Force chassis and were able to experiment with the Infiniti engine. We’re making ourselves better for the future.”
That future could include Herbert in a full-season ride or in a second car at the Indianapolis 500 in May.
Herbert has three career F1 victories and a 24 Hours of Le Mans win, and he wants to add a Borg-Warner Trophy to his collection.
“Winning the Indy 500 is my last major challenge, and I’m doing all I can to get there,” he said. “This was a great package to run with, and I really hope I’m competing here next year.”
Herbert has also been in continual contact with CART teams as he shores up his plans for next season. His test in England was with Dale Coyne’s CART operation.
“I’m glad I’ve been able to see both leagues,” Herbert said. “My goal is to get as much experience with a team before going to the Indy 500. Right now, I’m trying to figure out all the possibilities and looking at the strongest packages. I’m looking for the best opportunity to win the Indianapolis 500.”