MADISON, Illinois -- Marlboro Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran, in the thick of the Indy Racing League championship race, turned the quickest unofficial laps Aug. 14 during the second day of a three-day test at Gateway International Raceway.
Castroneves and de Ferran each turned laps in the low 26-second range in their Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone cars on the 1.25-mile oval in preparation for the Gateway Indy 250 on Aug. 25.
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Castroneves is second in the series standings with 395 points, just four behind leader Sam Hornish Jr. Two-time CART champion de Ferran is third at 386.
No cars turned laps until approximately noon (CDT) due to morning rain.
"The weather is not hot like we were expecting," Castroneves said. "Unfortunately there are clouds. Bottom line, I'm very happy with the way everything is going. I think this type of track suits my style and maybe because of the experience I have at this track in the other series might help."
Castroneves made three starts at Gateway between 1998-2000 during his CART career.
Sarah Fisher, quickest Tuesday at 26.58, improved with a top lap of 26.4 in the No. 23 Team Smart Blade/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone. Mechanical problems limited her track time.
"Today was all right," Fisher said. "We had to stick it out for three or four hours and then change the motor, and it was difficult getting back out, but once we did get back out we at least learned some things for today, and I think we're right on top of it."
Fisher's teammate, Robbie Buhl, was right behind at 26.51 in the No. 24 Team Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone. Like Castroneves, Buhl wished for warmer weather.
"You can't ask for better running conditions than what we have today, but unfortunately I don't think this is what it's going to be like on race day," Buhl said. "We haven't really had any sun beating down on the track to bring the surface temperature up along with some grease along with some slippery conditions, which I think will be the race conditions. So I'd have rather had that.
"But we made headway with the car, not really getting overly confident and excited with that because I think the race conditions are going to be different than that."
Hornish and Jeff Ward also turned top laps of 26.5 seconds in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone and No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone, respectively.
"This is one of the races that Panther is very good at, the tighter tracks where it's all about setup," Hornish said. "The only downfall of that is the Penske cars are usually fast at these tracks, too, and it's usually a dogfight between these two teams. We just have to go out there and continue to do what we've done over the last couple of months. If we don't have what it takes to win on that certain day, then we do the best with what we've got, and it usually works out pretty good."
Ward worked with two different G Force chassis, trying to find the best car for the race.
"It went really well," Ward said. "We went pretty quick and trying different chassis. We had race setup on there, so I think it was pretty quick for having race setup.
"We didn't try to go fast at all, just a bunch of little stuff, so all in all, it was a really good test. We got the gearing down."
Kelley Racing rookie Tony Renna also turned laps in the No. 78 Kruse Special Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, with no times available.
"We went through a pretty good program of stuff we wanted to go through," Renna said. "I think we learned a pretty good amount. It's my first time running here in the IRL car. I think we were fairly pleased."