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High Speeds Mark IRL Tests

February 29, 1996

PHOENIX (AP) _ Drivers again exceeded 182 mph Thursday, setting unofficial speed records at Phoenix International Raceway in Indy Racing League tests.

Richie Hearn posted 185.852 mph, at 19.37 seconds nearly half a second faster than Bryan Herta’s official track record of 181.952 mph set in April.

However, Hearn’s speed doesn’t count, except as a marker for how his car’s doing, since only competitive laps go into the record book.

Arie Luyendyk, who topped Herta’s standard on Wednesday at 182.463 mph, did even better Thursday at 184.615. Tony Stewart hit 183.299 and Roberto Guerrero reached 182.926.

John Della Penna, Hearn’s team owner, was delighted.

``A few weeks ago, we crashed a car testing at Phoenix and then crashed the spare car in practice at Orlando,″ Della Penna said. ``We came to Phoenix on Monday to set up, wanting to take our time approaching this in a real pragmatic way. Today, we are caught up and getting ready to race. We are absolutely ecstatic.″

Twenty drivers participated during the three-day test leading to the IRL Phoenix 200 on March 2-24. IRL scheduled driver tryouts for Thursday and Friday.

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