SPARTA, Ky., Friday, Aug. 2, 2002 - 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 Aug. 2 in preparation for the Belterra Casino Indy 300 weekend, Aug. 10-11.
Unofficial test speeds for the Indy Racing League machines topped 222 mph, while unofficial speeds for the Infiniti Pro Series cars were more than 182 mph. It was the second time this week that the Indy Racing League drivers lapped the track at more than 220 mph.
"We're down here with the Delphi team trying to establish a good baseline," said Sharp, who won the MBNA Pole for last year's event at Kentucky. "We're not running all that much and just mileaging out our engine from Michigan. It (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 won the Firestone Indy 225 in April at Nazareth Speedway, will enter the Belterra Casino Indy 300 with three consecutive top-10 finishes "This season has been a roller coaster. It's been one of those years," said Sharp, who is currently eighth in the series point 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 and are hoping to really come off and finish off these last four races as strong as possible."
Sharp's Kelley Racing teammate, Jason Priestley, tested his Infiniti Pro Series No. 7 HomeMed Pharmacy Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. In three starts, Priestley has a second-place finish at Kansas, a sixth-place finish at Nashville and a 13th-place finish at Michigan.
"I think it's exciting watching and racing with these young guys that are the IRL stars of tomorrow," said Priestley, the former star of "Beverly Hills 90210." "They really get out there and try to make a name for themselves.
"I had the fastest race laps last weekend (Michigan) before it rained, and I spun. 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."
The event weekend begins Aug. 10 with the NASCAR Hills Bros. All Pro Series race, followed by Infiniti Pro Series qualifying and MBNA Pole Qualifying for the Indy Racing League.
The action continues on Aug. 11 with the Belterra Casino Indy 300 and the Infiniti Pro Series' Kentucky 100. The Kentucky 100 begins at 11:30 a.m. (EDT), and the green flag drops for The Belterra Casino Indy 300 at 1:30 p.m. (EDT).
Tickets for Kentucky Speedway's closing weekend are on sale now and can be purchased by phone at (888) 652-RACE or online at www.kentuckyspeedway.com.