FORT WORTH, Texas (April 12, 2017) – The following is an event recap with photo and video links from Wednesday’s test session at Texas Motor Speedway featuring 14 Verizon IndyCar Series drivers preparing for the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 on Saturday, June 10.
Fourteen drivers representing eight Verizon IndyCar Series organizations participated in the one-day open test session on the repaved and re-profiled 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway oval.
Four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, testing in the No. 83 Honda of Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Charlie Kimball, recorded the fastest laps in both Session 1 and Session 2 of the roughly 5½-hour test. He ran a top lap in Session 1 of 219.362 miles per hour and later topped that in the afternoon with a lap of 220.432 mph.
Both laps also easily surpassed last year’s pole-winning speed of 217.137 miles per hour by Carlos Munoz.
In Session 1, Dixon was followed by the Penske trio of Will Power (215.781 mph), defending series champion Simon Pagenaud (213.966 mph) and Helio Castroneves (213.816 mph). Graham Rahal of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing rounded out the top five with a lap of 213.626 mph.
In Session 2 that was dedicated to running in groups, Dixon was trailed by Rahal (219.172), Pagenaud (219.015 mph), Castroneves (218.683 mph) and Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti (217.741 mph). The group runs were done to assist INDYCAR in determining appropriate downforce levels when the series returns for the Rainguard Water Sealers 600.
The drivers were on hand to gather data and information on the new track surface as well as the re-profiling of Turns 1 & 2, where the banking was reduced from 24 to 20 degrees and the racing surface expanded from 60 to 80 feet. It was the drivers’ first time on the track since the project was completed in early March and the 14 drivers that went on track completed an unofficial total of 2,240 laps in the test.
The other drivers that participated in the test session were Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden; Andretti Autosport driver Takuma Sato; Ed Carpenter Racing drivers Ed Carpenter and Spencer Pigot; A.J. Foyt Racing drivers Conor Daly and Munoz; Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian driver Alexander Rossi; and Harding Racing driver Gabby Chaves.
Four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon had fastest lap of the morning session at 219.362 miles per hour, but there were two reasons that made it even more impressive. The first was that he was more than three miles per hour faster than the next-closest lap by Will Power at 215.781 mph on virtually a brand-new track due to the repave and re-profile. The second was that he didn’t even do it in his No. 9 Honda, but rather the No. 83 of Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Charlie Kimball. His No. 9 entry was one of the several Honda-powered cars that arrived with higher-mileage engines and opted not to run it for the test.
What They Are Saying
“Right now I’m very happy that INDYCAR decided to come over here and have this opportunity to try different aerodynamics so that we can simulate some of the races. And when we go back here for the actual race, we’ll not only have a show for the drivers but especially the fans and everyone else.” – Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves.
“So far, so good. The bottom lane seems to have a pretty good level of grip. When we get up off the bottom lane, it is a little slippery right now. With the (NASCAR) Cup rubber and everything else, it is going to take some time for that to come in. I know we will put on a good show when we come back in two months.” – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Graham Rahal on his initial impression on the repave.
“The track changed a lot. There’s a lot of grip once rubber goes down. There’s no tire degradation so it really looks after the tires a lot.” – Team Penske driver Will Power on his first impression of the track.
“It’s a big difference going down there into (Turns) 1 and 2. Visually, it’s crazy how different it is. It is very different. It, personally, took me a handful of laps to get used to it.” – Rahal on the racing surface in Turns 1 & 2 being expanded from 60 to 80 feet and the banking reduced from 24 to 20 degrees.
“It is quite different. It’s a tighter radius, less banking but once the grip comes and you’re wide open it’s very similar.” – Power on the re-profiling of Turns 1 & 2.
“The cars are very different than NASCAR. They are a lot lighter, the tires are different, the way we drive the cars with the downforce is different. We’re just trying to figure what is going to be the best race – how do we put on a good race but also a safe and proper race that the drivers can drive themselves and they just don’t feel too stuck to the race track where they can’t make a difference from a driver standpoint.” – Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden.
“It’s a different layout for sure. The radius in Turn 1 changed quite a bit. The exit of Turn 2 is so different it definitely helps, I believe, side-by-side racing. It’s just about us understanding how to make the tires work with the race track the best way possible.” – Team Penske driver Simon Pagenaud.
“It used to be a tire chewer here, but that is not the case anymore.” – Pagenaud on no tire degradation on the new, repaved Texas Motor Speedway surface.
“I think for us, too, the ambient conditions really affect a winged car quite a bit. It’s probably 20 degrees cooler than what it’s going to be when we run later down the road (in June). Trying to take a lot of information in and try and make the best judgements and have something that works for everyone.” – Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon.
“I was pretty stoked to hear that. It will bring a lot of attention to the series and the Indy 500. He’s with a good team and has a great shot (at winning).” – Power on the news that two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso will compete in this year’s Indy 500 for Andretti Autosport.
Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick won the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pole position for last week’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 with a lap of 198.405 miles per hour. The 14 drivers that turned laps in the second session topped Harvick’s winning pole speed by at least 10 miles per hour with the top lap by Dixon (220.432 mph) being more than 22 miles per hour faster.