Rookies Pass IRL Test
December 6, 2001 | 12:00 A.M. EST
The Fike brothers and Rocky Moran Jr., son of three-time Indianapolis 500 starter Rocky Moran, completed their IRL rookie tests at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Tuesday.
Moran, 21, completed the most laps of the trio with 236. His top speed was 212.00 mph in a Clayton Cunningham Racing G Force.
Moran relished the experience.
“It was an awesome experience,” said Moran, who finished ninth in the 2001 Toyota Atlantic points. “The rookie test went really smooth and I learned a lot. Once we got up to that last stage, I was really ready to do it, and we went flat around there.
“The car wasn’t quite trimmed out yet, but it was exhilarating, it was awesome.”
Aaron Fike completed 103 laps with a top speed of 206.82 mph in a Dallara prepared by PDM Racing. A.J. completed 92 laps with a top speed of 209.81 mph.
They both enjoyed their time in the IRL machines.
“Pretty awesome,” Aaron Fike said. “I’ve never gone that fast wide open. It’s a totally different experience for us. We’re not used to these kinds of speeds, downforce or wings. The wings really help out.
“In the midgets, we floor it down the straightaways, try to hustle it in the corners and pick up the throttle as soon as possible. Here, the wings really help you out.”
“It’s different,” A.J. Fike said. “It’s kind of like a big, laid-back go-kart. Everything is really responsive. The faster I went, the better it felt. At first I wasn’t sure, but once I started going faster, it really settled down and felt comfortable. It was a lot of fun.”
A.J. was the 1999 USAC Midget Rookie of the Year. Aaron won the same honor in 2000. A.J. has two Midget wins and finished second in Midget points in 2001.
Aaron was named the 2001 USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year last week and became the youngest driver to ever win a Silver Crown race in June at Richmond, Va. He finished fifth in Midget points and 10th in Silver Crown points.