The three-hour Wednesday evening session of the Indy Racing League’s Indy Car test was punctuated with cautions for debris. More cut/flat tires. The Firestone engineers said it was the first test of the season and the track had debris. “Firestone is careful about what we run out there.” Despite the numerous cautions for debris and cut tires, no one whitewalled it and there were no incidents.
The track and ambient temperature were the same for the evening test – 68F/20C. No mention of the wind chill factor, which no doubt caused the layering up in the pit lane.
RYAN BRISCOE/No.6 Team Penske continued as the fastest overall driver, at 00:25.1978/212.161 mph – turned in the first session of the day.
Second through fifth were SCOTT DIXON/No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing; MARCO ANDRETTI/No.26 Andretti Green Racing; TONY KANAAN/No.11 Andretti Green Racing; and MARIO MORAES/No.5 KV Racing Technology.
The majority of the drivers turned their fastest times on Wednesday.
Dixon was the busiest driver, turning 182 laps on Wednesday and 282 overall. EJ VISO/No.13 HVM Racing ran the fewest laps – 82/130. He is not the least bit superstitious about running the number 13 and in Venezuela it doesn’t have the same cache as it does in the USA. Good thing. He finished in thirteenth place Wednesday evening.
While the 21 drivers testing were on track, several other drivers were putting in laps up and down pit lane and in the garages. In addition to RYAN HUNTER-REAY, BRUNO JUNQUEIRA and ORIOL SERVIA, there were TOMAS SCHECKTER and JEFF SIMMONS, and NELSON PHILLIPPE was also spotted. SARAH FISHER has four races on her schedule this season, and she and her group spent both test days in the pit lane with one of the teams.
Only four of the 21 drivers on track are from the US – Andretti, STANTON BARRETT/No.98 Curb/Agajanian/Team 3G, ED CARPENTER/No.20 Vision Racing; and GRAHAM RAHAL/No.02 Newman Haas Lanigan Racing.
Preceding the afternoon test session was another hour of production shooting – the Versus TV promotions using several Indy Cars.
The mix of the 2009 Indy Car season is three road courses, four street courses and ten ovals. The season starts out with two street courses, a change from years past. The fifth annual Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be the season’s opener, followed two weeks later by the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The season will have a new finale, at Homestead Miami Speedway. There has been a lot of Florida buzz about the bookending of the two Florida races. Andretti Green Promotions, one of the companies in the Andretti Green family, is the St. Pete Promoter. KIM GREEN, CEO of Andretti Green Racing, is “quietly pleased at how ticket sales are going and if the weather holds, we’ll be fine”.
HMS is spreading the word that it is the Championship track. It will host six season finale races in 2009, all from North American-based series: two IRL races – Indy Car and Firestone Indy Lights, as well as the Grand American finale on one weekend called Speedjam 2009 – 9-10 October 2009; and the three top tier NASCAR races in one weekend – Sprint Cup, Nationwide Series and Camping World Trucks – 20-22 November 2009.
Several of the IRL drivers live in South Florida, especially the Miami area, and are pleased to be ending the season “at home.”
The next IRL pre-season test will be three days on the road course at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham AL 20-22 March. It will again be for the Indy Cars and the Firestone Indy Lights.
PRACTICE 2 – WEDNESDAY EVENING
- RYAN BRISCOE/No.6 Team Penske
- SCOTT DIXON/No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing
- MARCO ANDRETTI/No.26 Andretti Green Racing
- TONY KANAAN/No.11 Andretti Green Racing
- MARIO MORAES/No.5 KV Racing Technology
- WILL POWER/No.3 Team Penske
- DAN WHELDON/No.4 Panther Racing
- MIKE CONWAY*/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
- GRAHAM RAHAL/No.02 Newman Haas Lanigan Racing
- HIDEKI MUTOH/No.27 Andretti Green Racing
- DARIO FRANCHITTI/No.10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing
- VITOR MEIRA/No.14 A.J. Foyt Enterprises
- EJ VISO/No.13 HVM Racing
- DANICA PATRICK/No7 Andretti Green Racing
- MILKA DUNO/Newman Haas Lanigan Racing
- ED CARPENTER/No.20 Vision Racing
- ROBERT DOORNBOS*/No.06 Newman Haas Lanigan Racing
- RAFAEL MATOS*/No.12 Luczo Dragon Racing
- JUSTIN WILSON/No.18 Dale Coyne Racing
- JAIME CAMARA/No.34 Conquest Racing
- STANTON BARRETT*/No.98 Curb/Agajanian/Team 3G