Indy Racing League Drivers Sharp, Renna And Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series Teams Test Kentucky
Indy Racing League drivers Scott Sharp and Tony Renna joined Infiniti Pro Series drivers Gary Peterson, Jason Priestley, G.J. Mennen and Jeff Tillman in a one-day test on the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway tri-oval today in preparation for the upcoming "Belterra Casino Indy 300" and "Kentucky 100" on August 11.
Unofficial top test speeds for the Indy Racing League machines topped 222 mph, while unofficial speeds for the Infiniti Pro Series cars bettered 182 mph. It was the second time this week that the Indy Racing League drivers reached scorched the track at well over 220 mph.
Sharp, the 2001 Kentucky Speedway pole winner, was preparing his Kelley Racing No. 8 Delphi Dallara Chevrolet for a second run to the top of "The Belterra Casino Indy 300" starting grid.
"We're down here with the Delphi Team trying to establish a good baseline. We're not running all that much and just mileaging out our engine from Michigan," he said. "(Testing) gives us the chance to come down here and get some of the bigger items out of the way, changes you might want to try that could take up significant amounts of track time during the (race) weekend. We'll come in (next week) and do more fine tuning rather than looking for big things."
Sharp, who owns a win a Nazareth this season and enters "The Belterra Casino Indy 300" riding a wave of three consecutive top-10 finishes, is looking to continue his strong close to the 2002 season. "This season has been a rollercoaster, it's been one of those years," said Sharp, who is currently eighth in the series points standings. "When we're really good we've had problems. We were looking really good at Indy and Texas and had little mechanical things, like a blown engine, take us out of the race. We've fought different issues, had little scenarios go down and are hoping to really come off and finish off these last four races as strong as possible."
Kelley Infiniti Pro Series driver Jason Priestley also was on hand to put his No. 7 Home Med Pharmacy Dallara Infiniti through its paces. In three starts, Priestley owns a second-place finish at Kansas, a sixth-place finish at Nashville and a 13th-place finish at Michigan. A ten-year road racing veteran, Priestley is enjoying his time in the new developmental series.
"I think it's exciting watching and racing with these young guys that are the IRL stars of tomorrow really get out there and try to make a name for themselves," he said.
Priestley also predicted that his first series win may not be far off. "I had the fastest race laps last weekend (Michigan) before it rained and I spun," he said. "With hard work and perseverance comes good luck. If I continue to work hard, eventually I'll get better luck. I'm always there, always hanging around." Kentucky Speedway opens its fourth and final weekend of the season with the NASCAR Hills Bros. All Pro Series and IRL qualifying on "84 WHAS AM 150 & Pole Day" on Saturday, August 10. The "WHAS 150" begins at 2:00 p.m. and will be followed by Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series and IRL qualifying for "The Belterra Casino Indy 300." Speedway gates open at 10:00 a.m.
The action continues on Sunday, August 11, with the IRL "Belterra Casino Indy 300" and Kentucky Speedway debut of the Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series in "The Kentucky 100." Speedway gates open at 8:00 a.m. "The Kentucky 100" begins at 11:30 a.m., and the green flag drops for "The Belterra Casino Indy 300 at 1:30 p.m. The first 15,000 fans to enter the speedway on Sunday, August 11, will receive one of three bobbleheads depicting league drivers Buddy Lazier, Sam Hornish, Jr., and Al Unser, Jr. Fans also will be able to register to win the Official Kentucky Speedway Belterra Casino Indy 300 Pace Car, a 2002 Ford Mustang GT, courtesy of event title sponsor Belterra Casino Resort throughout the weekend. Tickets for Kentucky Speedway's closing weekend are on sale now and can be purchased in five easy ways:
- By phone at 1-888-652-RACE
- On the World Wide Web at www.kentuckyspeedway.com
- In person at either the speedway's Ft. Mitchell ticket office or at the Kentucky Speedway Fan Center off Ky. Hwy. 35 in Sparta, Ky.
- At Tickets.com and all Tickets.com retail outlets located in Greater Cincinnati
area Meijer Hader Hardware and Play-It-Again Sports stores.
- In person at all Greater Cincinnati AAA locations.