MADISON, Illinois -- Sarah Fisher, fresh from winning a historic MBNA Pole last weekend at Kentucky, was the fastest driver during the first day of Indy Racing League testing Aug. 13 at Gateway International Raceway.
Fisher set the pace among five drivers preparing for the Gateway Indy 250 IRL race Aug. 25 on the 1.25-mile oval, turning an unofficial top lap of 26.58 seconds in the No. 23 Team Smart Blade/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone. IRL testing was shortened to just two hours of track time in the afternoon due to morning and late-afternoon rain.
"I'm happy with the way things went," Fisher said. "We only had the time to make five or six changes, and we were going for different gears when the rain came the second time, but it was a good day. I hope we can keep this position next week."
Fisher became the first woman to win a pole position in major North American open-wheel racing history Aug. 10 at Kentucky Speedway.
Defending event champion Al Unser Jr. was second at 26.7 in the No. 7 Corteco/Bryant Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.
"We had a good test for the time we had," Unser said. "The track was even smoother than last year, and I'm looking forward to coming back and having another great race here."
Two-time CART champion Gil de Ferran was third at 26.9 in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone. This will be de Ferran's first start at Gateway as a full-time IRL driver, but he made four starts at the track between 1997-2000 during his CART career.
"The track is as I remember it," de Ferran said. "I was able to go right at it. Today was OK, and we'll give it more work tomorrow."
Anthony Lazzaro tested the No. 20 BG Products/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone in place of Richie Hearn, who suffered a broken right ankle in a crash Aug. 11 in the Belterra Casino Indy 300 at Kentucky. Lazzaro's best lap was 27.7.
"We were quick as anyone else on the second run, but when we started making changes to go faster, we went backward," Lazzaro said. "It was a bit frustrating, but we'll keep working on it. Sam (Schmidt) and I have been talking, and he asked me to test here, but we'll see how it goes. I like racing here."
Fisher's teammate, Robbie Buhl, turned shakedown laps in the No. 24 Team Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone.
"We had some things that we weren't happy with in the car and addressed those in the time we had," Buhl said. "That's why I was really hoping for the final hour today, but we'll come back and get after it tomorrow.
Tentatively scheduled to test Wednesday are Tony Renna (Kelley Racing), de Ferran and Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Team Penske), points leader Sam Hornish Jr. (Panther Racing), Buhl and Fisher (Dreyer & Reinbold Racing) and Jeff Ward (Target Chip Ganassi Racing). Infiniti Pro Series drivers also are scheduled to test.
The test is open to the public from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (CDT) with free admission. Fans can access the grandstand or the fan walk area along the west edge of the garage.