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IRL drivers, officials happy with Daytona test

IRL drivers, officials happy with Daytona test

Officials and drivers alike appeared to come away pleased from the Indy Racing League's two-day test session at Daytona International Speedway, home to American stock-car racing, giving the IRL a look at a possible future warm weather venue.
Five IndyCars completed 2,142 kilometers (1,331 miles) last week, giving the new Honda V-8 engines its first on-track test.
The test was conducted on a 4.4-kilometer (2.73-mile), 10-turn road course that incorporated turns three and four and the frontstretch on the 4-kilometer (2.5-mile) stock-car oval, as well as portions of the infield circuit used for road racing including the 24 Hours of Daytona.
Cars driven by three-time and reigning IRL champion Sam Hornish Jr. and former champion Tony Kanaan were equipped with the new 3.5-liter Honda engine that will be used by the entire field in 2007. They turned more than 965 kilometers (600 miles) using the engine, which is fueled by 100 percent ethanol.
"We came away from the test pretty satisfied," said Honda spokesman Roger Griffiths. "There still is some fine-tuning to accomplish with the various engine controls but, all in all, this was an excellent first test.
"We were able to run a lot of laps over the two days, and gathered enough information in the first day to make some initial software changes overnight. We applied those changes (the second day) on the ethanol cars and saw further improvements, and that's always encouraging."
Hornish was pleased with the engine's performance, saying, "It feels like it has more power now. It definitely has more power off the corners."
Also taking part in the test were former series champions Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon, and Vitor Meira.
At the suggestion of Kanaan and Meira, 300 meters (two-tenths of a mile) and two turns were added to the road course in the final 30 minutes of second-day testing. The change used an additional left and right turn in the infield.
"That gave us a chance to evaluate what we can do in the future," Kanaan said.