Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Kanaan, Castroneves fastest in Daytona testing
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Former Indy Racing League champion Tony Kanaan topped the speed chart Wednesday during the first of two days of testing at Daytona International Speedway.
Seventeen drivers from the IRL's IndyCar Series made laps on a modified 2.72-mile, 10-turn road circuit set up at the northern Florida track and most of their times and speeds were close.
Kanaan's fast lap was 1 minute, 12.25 seconds, which translates to 135.549 mph.
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves was right behind at 1:12.37 (135.313), followed by 2005 Indy 500 winner and series champion Dan Wheldon at 1:12.41 (135.226), Dario Franchitti at 1:12.46 (135.134) and defending Indy 500 and series champion Sam Hornish Jr. at 1:12.50 (135.056).
"It is a good first day for our crew," said Kanaan, who drives for Andretti Green Racing and was one of several IndyCar drivers who took part in a compatibility test at the Daytona track in September. "I have to brag a little bit because I only have a few hours left and by tomorrow everyone will forget who was first today."
Kanaan was thrilled to be running at historic Daytona.
"The name says everything," the Brazilian driver said. "Once I walked into this place, and September was my first time, I was pretty impressed."
Asked if he would like to race at Daytona, Kanaan said, "I think a lot of things need to come together for that to happen, but why not? I think you're asking a road course guy if he wants to ask for a road course, so the answer would be yes. I would like to see a race here, not taking any race out of the calendar, but if we could add another one."
Vitor Meira, driving for Panther Racing car, said, "I actually got butterflies walking in here. Just seeing all the new cars and driver combinations got me going."
There were several firsts for the IndyCar Series on Wednesday, including the first time that all the cars were powered by 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol, the first day of running with a fuel cell reduced from 30 to 22 gallons because of increased mileage with ethanol, and the first day driving for new teams for Danica Patrick (Andretti Green), Darren Manning (A.J. Foyt Racing), Kosuke Matsuura (Panther Racing) and Scott Sharp (Rahal Letterman Racing).