Sharp Tops Speed Chart
May 9, 2002 | 12:00 A.M. EST
1996 Indy Racing League co-champion Sharp was fastest on Opening Day Sunday with a lap of 39.5481, 227.571 in the No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.
“We worked on the car to find a little bit of a mile an hour here, a little bit of a mile an hour there,” Sharp said. “With the weather Thursday, it’s possibly going to be rained out, so we said we better make a run for it now to see what our four-lap qualifying run might look like in case we can’t get it in until sometime on Friday.”
Laurent Redon continued his impressive performance in the No. 34 Mi-Jack Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone in today’s rain-delayed practice, ending up second at 39.4658, 228.046. Redon led Tuesday at 39.1631, 229.808 – the fastest lap of the event – and has been in the top five for the last three days.
Defending race champion Helio Castroneves was third at 39.4675, 228.036 in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, continuing his consistent performance. Castroneves led Monday at 39.6972, 226.716 and has been in the top five of the final speed chart all four days.
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. was fourth at 39.4998, 227.849 in the No. 7 Corteco/Bryant Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone. Bruno Junqueira rounded out the top five at 39.5060, 227.813 in the No. 33 Target Chip Ganassi Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone.
The start of practice was delayed for the third consecutive day by wet track conditions. Today’s practice started at 2:26 p.m. (EST) after a delay of three hours, 26 minutes.
This was the busiest day of practice so far, with 32 drivers in 36 cars turning 1,312 laps. It also was the closest day of practice, as less than one second separated the top 30 cars.
Young IRL stars Sarah Fisher and Tomas Scheckter made their 2002 Indy debuts today.
Fisher, who announced an Indianapolis 500 program with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing today, recorded a top lap of 40.3998, 222.773 in the No. 23 Team Allegra/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone. Rookie Scheckter’s best lap was 39.8578, 225.803 in the No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. The Indy Racing League suspended him from the first three days of practice for unsportsmanlike conduct during earlier races this season.
Practice resumes at 11 a.m. (EST) Thursday. Pole Day qualifications start at 11 a.m. (EST) Saturday. The 86th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for 11 a.m. (EST) Sunday, May 26.