IIRNLS Briefs:/I Hearn At Bradley
August 3, 2001 | 11:43 A.M. EST
The team made a move to regain its winning touch this week by adding IRNLS and CART veteran Richie Hearn.
“I've been sitting around looking for something to do,” Hearn said. “I am really excited about getting back in a car and getting to work with David (Cripps, Bradley team manager and chief engineer) again. We had a lot of success together in the past. I am also looking forward to working with Brad and Buzz. Hopefully, I can contribute to the team and we can put our program together to join Bradley in the near future.”
Hearn, who has one IRNLS win to his credit, joins the team as a test driver and begin his testing duties Friday afternoon at Kentucky Speedway, sitr of the next race on Aug. 12.
"We feel that adding a second driver will help accelerate the results of our testing program," said Brad Calkins, owner of Bradley Motorsports. "Although there are many capable and deserving drivers out there, Richie's name kept coming up first. His talent, his past relationship with David and his potential sponsorship associations kept bringing Richie to the top of the list.
“David and I both feel that Richie and Buzz's talents complement one another. It is my view that Richie can give us a real advantage. Nothing is definite but, if everything were to go well with the testing program, we'd like to run Richie in a race before the year is out.”
Hearn is not on the Kentucky entry list, so his remaining chances to race this season are at Gatetway International Raceway on Aug. 26, Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 2 and Texas Motor Speedway on Sept. 16.
Buzz Calkins welcomed his new teammate and sees the relationship blossoming into a two-car team next season.
“Richie has been someone I've known since 1996 when we first started in the IRL together,” said Buzz, who is seventh in the points standings. “He is someone I believe has a great deal of talent and someone I consider a good friend. We decided, if we were going to do two-cars, let's start laying the foundation for the future now. I think by having Richie join the team we are doing just that. We aren't a two-car team yet but this will help us reach that goal."
Hearn most recently competed in the IRNLS at Pikes Peak International Raceway for Sam Schmidt Motorsports in June. He finished ninth in that race after starting 15th.
In his IRNLS career Hearn has three top-five finishes and four top-10 finishes. He also has 15 top-10 finishes in his three-year CART career.
Cheever Fastest at Chicagoland: A torrential downpour shut down Chicago expressways and city streets, but when the skies cleared IRNLS drivers took some of their first laps around Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., on Thursday during an open test.
Eddie Cheever paced the field with a 216.714 mph lap at the 1.5-mile high-banked oval.
“We’re real happy with today’s testing session,” said Cheever, who completed 121 laps in his No. 51 Dallara-Infiniti. “It’s always great when you’re the fastest. We ran three full-tank sessions today. It’s incredibly smooth, and it’s very easy to find grip on the track.”
Jeff Ward was second in a newly painted No. 35 G Force-Aurora. Still, there was no new sponsor on the car, as the team said there would be a couple of weeks ago. Ward reached a top speed of 215.257 mph. He was followed by Buddy Lazier at 214.582 mph in the No. 91 Dallara-Aurora, Billy Boat at 213.813 mph in the No. 98 Dallara-Aurora, and rookie Chris Menninga at 211.121 mph in the No. 92 Dallara-Aurora.
Rookies Rick Treadway and Scott Mayer also tested at the track. Treadway was sixth fastest in the No. 5 G Force-Aurora at 210.197 mph, besting IRNLS regular Sarah Fisher, who topped out at 209.957 mph.
“We weren’t out to set any speed records,” said Treadway, who is driving for father Fred Treadway at Treadway-Hubbard Racing. “We just wanted to feel the track out and get the setup right. It’s a fast, smooth racetrack with a lot of room, and it’s going to make for a great race for fans.”
Mayer drove the No. 9 Dallara-Aurora for PDM Racing. He passed his rookie test earlier this week but has not been cleared to drive by IRNLS officials.
The open-test was designed to get the driver acquainted with Chicagoland Speedway, which hosts a sold-out race on Sept. 2. The race will be televised live at 4 p.m. (ET) on Sept. 2.
Walker Regroups: Walker Racing driver Sarah Fisher started the season strong, earning her best career finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway in April. In the next three races, though, everything fell apart, literally.
The sophomore driver of the No. 15 Dallara-Aurora ran over debris at Atlanta, crashed on Lap 8 at Indy and was involved in a crash at Texas. She has just two Top-10 finishes this season.
To help turn the team around, Tim Bumps, a veteran mechanic with Indy 500 wins and CART titles on his resume, has joined the team as program manager. Bumps was with the team during tests at Kentucky, Gateway and Chicagoland this week.
“We struggled over the last few races to understand the Dallara (chassis),” Walker said. “And we feel we've made some gains at Kentucky to rectify that. We took some steps as a team in the right direction today as well, with Tim Bumps joining Walker Racing as program manager. He has a strong background and has worked for a number of good teams over the years.”
Bumps started the season with Kelley Racing. Kelley has not replaced Bumps.
Paving the Way: The IRNLS season finale at Texas Motor Speedway may not play out like the first race at the track in June. That’s because TMS is undergoing a repaving that is scheduled to be finished in late August.
The IRNLS season finale is Sept. 16, and it will be the second event on the new asphalt surface. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will race on the 1.5-mile high-banked oval on Sept. 15.
Scott Sharp won the IRNLS’ June 9 night race at the track.