Manning enjoys first test

Darren Manning has described himself as "pleasantly surprised" after his first test in a Ganassi Racing IndyCar at Phoenix International Raceway, despite ending his day early after a crash

Manning enjoys first test

The Briton, who has switched from the Walker Racing Champ Car team to Ganassi for 2004, was one of five drivers who tested on Wednesday at the one-mile oval, which has been slightly reconfigured during the off-season.

"I was pleasantly surprised," said Manning. "The cars are powerful and have great throttle response. It's quite a feeling, really, to be with such a great team like Target Chip Ganassi Racing. The cars are strong right off the trucks, and you can see why they've been so successful. These guys have one focus and that is being the best."

Manning's day ended in the Turn 2 wall. "The damage wasn't too severe, but it wasn't the way I wanted to wrap up the day," he said. "I would have loved to have been able to put in another 60 to 70 laps."

Joining Manning at Phoenix were his new team-mate Scott Dixon, fellow Briton Dan Wheldon, Penske ace Sam Hornish Jr and Dreyer & Reinbold driver Robbie Buhl.

Since the last IRL race at Phoenix in March, the exit to Turn 2 has been widened, and new asphalt laid in parts of Turn 4. Dixon was pleased with the changes made.

"It's definitely better than it was before," said the reigning champion. "It should allow for more side-by-side racing coming out of Turn 2, and that will be great for both the drivers and the fans."

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