2011 Barber IndyCar Test

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2011 Barber IndyCar Test

Post by mlittle » Wed Mar 16, 2011 5:25 pm

Team Penske's Will Power was fastest on the first day of a 2-day IndyCar test at Barber Motorsports Park

from MO, 14 March 2011
----A day earlier, Will Power was among numerous IZOD IndyCar Series drivers who relayed their predictions of the "tightest race in series history." He, of course, was speaking in season-long terms, though individual races definitely are included.

The first of a two-day Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park provided a preview. Seven different teams were represented in the top 10 of the combined time sheet for the two sessions (five hours total track time), and the top 18 of the 24 cars participating were separated by one second.

Power, who won five road/street races on the way to a runner-up finish in the 2010 championship, topped the field with a quick lap of 1 minute, 12.5056 seconds (114.198 mph) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car on the 2.38-mile natural-terrain course. Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing was second (1:12.5538) and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Justin Wilson was third (1:12.6791).

Five more hours of track time are scheduled for March 15 in preparation for the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg next week. Barber Motorsports Park will play host to the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 10.

--Selected quotes from Chip Ganassi's media availability:
You have to remember that motorsports is one of those businesses that as great a year that 2010 was, and it was an unbelievable year and one that any car owner dreams about, that was last year and this is this year. It's a zero-based game. We're starting back at zero and the points are all tied for all the championships. It's a new year and no one is going to forget about last year faster than our competitors that want to beat us. It's going to be a lot of hard work and to accomplish anything close to what we did last year, but that's why we are back here. That's the kind of challenge that we like and what attracts us to the sport, the challenge.
Is that why you've started the effort for Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball?: "Yeah. It's something where we can develop some people and develop our team and bring people along for the not only our team, but also the sport. We're not just developing drivers, we bringing along crew members, sponsors, team members.
About returning to Barber Motorsports Park: "I just like coming to this place. It's a great place. It's nice to come to a facility that you can tell somebody put a lot of passion into it. It's always a pleasure to come here. You feel vindicated in coming to a place where the support is alive and well."
About the changes INDYCAR has announced for the 2011 season: "I was in favor of (double-file restarts). I think it's a good thing. We have to attract some fans and when you visually watch a race on television, it needs to look like other races. Let's face it; most of the people who watch racing on television are watching NASCAR. When they turn on an INDYCAR race, they should be able to see what's happening and it should look similar. If you're watching the NFL or college football game, the rules are pretty much the same and the look is the same and the field is the same. There are small differences, but they are basically the same."
About free pass concept: "I think it's a good thing. It's part and parcel of keeping cars on the lead lap and keeping cars in the race. I've heard the argument that we don't have as many cars and don't pass them as early, it's 26 vs. 43. I'd have to say I'm in favor of it. If you're going to do it, go the whole way. If you're more concerned about yellows, there's going to be more guys who are a lap down, so they're going to need help to get a lap back."
How do you add cars without diluting your other two cars: "We've approached this as if it were two two-car teams. They have separate buildings, separate management. About the only thing that crosses over is some engineering that works back and forth. I've said it's like the Hendrick model in NASCAR. For us, I don't see how four cars under one roof would work."
About Scott Dixon/Jamie McMurray ride swap: "They scheduled it on a day that I can't be there, but I'd sure like to be. It was my idea, so I can't believe I'm not going to be here. I'm happy to do it for our guys. I always like our drivers to experience other things. They know each other from the 24 Hours of Daytona, so it's nice that they can get into each other's cars. Often times you hear those guys talking about each other's cars. It's kind of interesting and nice that they can get a taste of it firsthand. I don't think you need to worry about Jamie coming to INDYCAR or Scott switching to NASCAR, but I think it's really going to be fun. And more importantly, I think it's going to make them both better race car drivers." Scott says he's not worried about Talladega. He's more worried about Jamie wrecking his car. "Tell Scott, it's my car."
About Firestone's return: "The thing I took away from it is that it's more than everyone being unanimous in keeping Firestone. I think it was more that Firestone set the bar high for any tire company to come it. They started in Indy Lights and they were in Indy Lights for a year, then they tested for a year at all the circuits with a real team and driver and then they came in the series. You just don't go look for a tire company on short notice. It's a tall order, so we wanted see what we could do to help their decision making process."
~~During the lunch break, Andretti Autosport announced that it again will join forces with co-entrant Richard Petty Motorsports and primary sponsor Window World, Inc., to field an entry for John Andretti in the Indianapolis 500. Andretti, who seeks to make his 12th Indy 500 start, will drive the No. 43 Window World car with a traditional "Petty Blue" and "Day-Glo Red" color scheme. However, the livery featured on this year's entry was designed to commemorate the 1982 race-winning car of Gordon Johncock.

It's the third consecutive year that Window World will be the primary sponsor of the entry and the third year in a row to include participation from Petty. "As a racer, the Indianapolis 500 is something that you love to be involved in," said Petty, owner of Richard Petty Motorsports. "Heading back to Indy in May with John, Michael (Andretti) and Window World is the way we want to do it and I'm really looking forward to it."

In conjunction with the effort, Window World and ABILITY Magazine have created the "$1,000,000 WIN-WIN" promotion that will provide one contestant the chance to win $1 million should Andretti win the '500.' That contestant will be selected randomly from a group of six semifinalists, with five representatives from designated U.S. regions and one representative from the national community of veterans, including active duty, retired and wounded warriors. The semifinalists will also be selected from a random drawing.

"No matter how many times you've done it before, it never gets old to announce that you're going to run in the Indianapolis 500," John Andretti said. "Winning the Indianapolis 500 has always been a dream of mine. To be able to have another shot at that is tremendous, and being able to make one of our military heroes a millionaire in the process would make it that much better."

The No. 43 will be a fifth entry for Andretti Autosport. Fifth in 1991 is John Andretti's best finish -- the same year he started a race-high seventh. "It's great for us to be able to put this program together again for 2011," said team owner Michael Andretti, who is John's cousin. "Window World is a great partner, and getting the chance to work with Richard and John means so much to me personally. We learned a lot last year with John in the car and hopefully all of that will pay off for us this year. John is running the race for one reason and that's to win it, so we're going to give it everything we've got."

~~Sebastian Saavedra impressed Conquest Racing owner Eric Bachelart during the 2010 season finale weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. They'll continue to work together this year. Saavedra, 20, will compete in the full IZOD IndyCar Series season in the No. 34 Conquest Racing car, the team announced.

"I'm excited to be entering my first full season of IndyCar competition," said Saavedra, who advanced eight positions to finish 16th on the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway oval. "I've been working a long time towards this and for it to finally happen is fantastic. I can't wait for the season to start. I know it won't always be easy but I am up for the challenge."

Saavedra, of Bogota, Colombia, made his IZOD IndyCar Series debut in the 2010 Indianapolis 500 (started 32nd, finished 23rd). In Firestone Indy Lights, he recorded one victory (Iowa Speedway) and four other top-five finishes in 11 starts. He was the '09 Firestone Indy Lights Rookie of the Year, finishing third in the championship.

"We're delighted to have Sebastian back with us and this time for the complete season," Bachelart said. "I think we can expect some good things from him this season. We're also happy to be keeping up our tradition of giving young up-and-coming drivers the chance to take their career to the next level."

~~INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard said a decision regarding implementation of the "free pass" to complement its restart procedures would be announced this week. The feature gives the first car a lap down a free pass to regain its lap before restarts. Alterations to the restart procedures, including cars side-by-side heading to the green flag, were announced late last week.

"As much as I want to do everything the team owners want, I want to make sure we first and foremost take care of our fans," Bernard said. "I've heard from a lot of them that don't want it, that it's too gimmicky."

~~ZOOM Motorsports, promoter and event manager for Barber Motorsports Park, expects a sellout for the second IZOD IndyCar Series race at the scenic facility. "It gives me chills," Bernard said of the prospects of the hillsides covered with spectators on blankets for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy on April 10.

~~Oriol Servia has "crashed like 20 cars" in Turn 1 at Barber Motorsports Park. Fortunately, it's only been on iRacing.com. He'll get in his first laps on the 2.38-mile course in the No. 02 Newman/Haas Racing car during the Open Test. "It looks like you need to really have it together here," said Servia, who said he has a full-season deal to return to the team.

~~Scott Dixon will have some advice March 16 for Jamie McMurray, who will drive Dixon's No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car on the Barber Motorsports Park. "Take it easy, especially being my car. I asked if they could use the 10 car (of teammate Dario Franchitti) and they said no," joked Dixon, who, in turn, will drive McMurray's stock car at Talladega Superspeedway.

"For me, it's a restrictor plate track, it's a massive track so I think my side of it is going to be a lot easier. It would have been cool to go to some short track like Bristol or Milwaukee."

~~There will be occasions of side-by-side running on the 2.38-mile Barber Motorsports Park circuit during the two days (about 10 hours total) of the IZOD IndyCar Series Open Test but no official two-wide restarts.

The sanctioning body announced late last week that double-wide restarts would be conducted at all venues, starting with the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 27.

Andretti Autosport's Danica Patrick is all in for the expansion to include the nine road/street courses on the schedule. "Whatever we have to do to get people to watch more and come to the races is what we have to do," she said. "I know it's a sport and we all want pure, pure, pure, but it's also a business."

Reigning series champion Dario Franchitti might be more cautious from a competition perspective but agreed with the entertainment aspects. "Will there be more cars in pieces? Yeah," he said. "But it will add to the spectacle. Ultimately, it's a sport but it's an entertainment and those two have to be balanced and that's a difficult thing to do. In a lot of ways I'm glad I don't make the decisions."

The rules alteration, which includes moving the restart zone closer to the start-finish line, was implemented following input from drivers and owners as a way to further entertain and intensify the on-track action. "The IndyCar Series goes way beyond what I saw in NASCAR as far as how the series brings the drivers and fans together from the open paddock, the autograph sessions," Franchitti continued. "The IndyCar community works hard to engage the fans."
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Post by mlittle » Wed Mar 16, 2011 5:30 pm


WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske, fastest of the day)
"It was a good day today for Verizon Team Penske. We definitely found some things today that will help us here. The track conditions really improved late in the day before we decided to stop a bit early because of the rain. It felt really good out there and I hope it's dry tomorrow so we can get back out and do some more laps in the Verizon car." (About closeness of the field today): "I said yesterday that this would be the toughest season in history. I haven't seen the timesheets yet, but it's already shaping up to be that way. There are a lot of good drivers in good cars and maybe some good drivers in not-so-good cars. It's great to see a whole field of good drivers. There's not one person that shouldn't be out there."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, second-fastest)
"It was a good day for Team Target. We had a big list of things to accomplish and made a lot of different changes as we tried to go through all the development pieces that team came up with over the winter. The Team Target car was fairly decent, so I'm pretty happy, overall."
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 22 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, third-fastest)
"The first day was OK. We had a few things that we had to spend some time on earlier, so we missed a bit of track time. We came back out and I think we made some strong progress in the afternoon. Some of the changes were good and some were bad, so we can cross those off of the list and now we are shortening it up. I think it has been a reasonable day and we will keep working on it for tomorrow."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Guidepoint Systems Team Penske, fourth-fastest)
"We were very happy with the No. 3 Guidepoint Systems car today. We turned some solid laps and posted some good times. Today we worked on getting back in the groove and finding our rhythm. We did a lot work and learned some valuable information. I hope that the weather that is heading our way does not affect us tomorrow.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 06 Newman/Haas Racing, fifth-fastest)
"Driving an Indy car around Barber is fantastic! It was my first time to drive an Indy car on a proper road circuit so it really gave me a chance to stretch the legs of the Indy car a little bit, especially on the fast corners. It's an incredible machine; it's got a lot of downforce and it's really fun to try to explore the limits of the car. This morning we had a solid car. I think half of the field put new tires on in the morning and we were one of them. Not a lot of guys in the top-10 did so it put us in the top, a little higher than maybe we should have been. The car was really good again this afternoon. I had a little bit of a spin which forced us to put our new tires on a little earlier in the day which was not the best time of the day to do that and we ran an all right time, a time good enough for P7. But what was incredible was that we made a really good change later and matched it on tires that were about 15 laps old. Doing that on my first day at this track in an Indy car with everybody here is something to be really happy about. We'll just build on that tomorrow."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 IZOD Team Penske)
"I was really happy with our first day here at Barber. We stopped a little bit early because of the weather coming in. We did a lot of set-up work getting the balance right for this tire. Firestone brought a different tire than what we tested here a couple of weeks ago. Overall, we are very pleased with the IZOD car after today's test and we hope to get some more good miles in tomorrow."
"Today was a solid day. We started off with a pretty good balance. We started working with the car, changing many things, and I think we got a load of things done. Now we're just going to go back and compare to the other cars to see where we go for tomorrow. All in all, we got a lot done and I think the pace is there-the car was quick."
"We got a lot of work done. The setup we started with this morning ended up being our quickest combination. We've got a few good changes for tomorrow. It will be a busy day. We got a lot of information from the other three cars on the team. We just need to put our heads together tonight. It's amazing how close the competition is. The road and street courses are going to be very challenging."
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 B&W Sam Schmidt Motorsports)
"It was definitely a really strong day for the team. Obviously we had a lot of items on the list that we tried today. It was one of those days where it was item after item after item to test to see if we can get some improvement. I think we found some really interesting things in the car that were helpful. We're still not where we want to be, but we know that and we're aware of it, so it's no big deal, and we're not racing, yet. Today was a huge testing item program for us and I think ninth, considering we just threw bits at it, is pretty decent. Tonight we have to review the things that went wrong today and see if we can make improvements on it tomorrow from the get-go. We'll know where we're at the first out lap, and if we are where we want to be, then we'll probably go after a lap time. We'll just have to put it out on the track in the morning the right way."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Levemir and Novolog FlexPen)
"The Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team had another very productive test day at Barber Motorsports Park. There were only a few cars running when we were here last week, but today was more like a race weekend with a lot of competition out there. Still, we were able to accomplish our goals for the day. I'm looking forward to getting back to work on the No. 83 Levemir FlexPen and NovoLog Honda tomorrow."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing)
"Today was learning day for the Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing team. We made a lot of changes and improvements to the No. 38 Service Central Honda throughout both practice sessions and we ended the day well. We're in a good spot to build on tomorrow."
"It's really great to be back in a race car again, and finally back on a high-speed course. We have a few things to test and that's what we've set out to accomplish today. I think we'll be happy with the changes that we're finding."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing)
"We started ok…did some changes after the last test we ran here. We tried some things that didn't work and we're going back to what we knew was better. We had a problem with the clutch and we're trying to figure out if what caused it, if it was a part failure or something else. It stopped us from running the last 90 minutes of practice which is the most important because that is when you put everything that you learned together and put down a time. Overall, we were ok and we're making steps in the right direction. We'll see what tomorrow brings. [Being back in a car] "It feels good to be back. It's a long off-season and it's a long time to be out of the car so you start saying to yourself, 'Man I want to get into it, I don't want to get rusty.' So it's good to be back on a general test where everybody is and where everybody is competitive so it's a good feeling to be back."
"It was really good to be back in the Venom car but I think we still have some work to do. We ticked off all the boxes and as a team ran several different setups, but we're not moving as far forward as we'd like. We're looking forward to working hard tomorrow."
"Overall I think today's practice sessions were successful. We made a lot of changes to the car, some worked, some didn't, but that's what testing is about. I think we will be able to fine tune some of the things that worked well, and put them to test again tomorrow. The time that we have spent on track is going to be useful when we are back here in a few weeks."
ANA BEATRIZ (No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing)
"Well it was a little bit tougher that I had expected. I don't know the Barber track, this was my first time to run here. It's a very technical circuit and it has some really fast corners, so I really had to trust the car. We did improve the car all day, which is a good thing. At the end of the day, just at the point when I think that I was right with the setup and we put on new tires, but unfortunately on my fastest lap I spun the car and destroyed the tires so we couldn't run anymore, which was frustrating. All in all, we did improve a lot, it's just disappointing that we couldn't show the times that I know we could show."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 02 Newman/Haas Racing)
"The track is even more fun than it looks on the computer. I really enjoy it; a lot more than I thought I would. We made some big changes with the car that went towards suiting me. I was very comfortable with the setup of the car but more than anything it's a track with a lot of technical, very fast corners where you need confidence and it just took me some time to get that confidence. I still have quite a bit to go but I felt, from lunchtime to the afternoon, a lot more comfortable. I'm starting to feel how I should. In the morning I was still too rusty. I am very happy with the progress in the afternoon though."
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 34 Conquest Racing)
"Today was exactly what I needed. Seat time is pretty important right now. I just signed with the team, so I needed the time to get used to everything - a new engineer, a new team and a new car. We made huge progress today. We started pretty conservative and just started working through it. We finished the day at a point where we feel like we can continue to make progress. Tomorrow we'll if we can pick up where we left off."
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing)
"It was an interesting day. We started, really, from nowhere. The car was really bad and we had a bit of a tough time. But towards the end, we started to get a little closer. We still have a lot of work to do, but it's encouraging because we made some progress. We have a lot of things to try with the geometry of the car, and I'm still learning the car and what changes work for me. We still have a lot of things to investigate, but the boys worked really hard today, and we'll keep plugging away."
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Post by mlittle » Wed Mar 16, 2011 5:36 pm

3-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves led the timecharts Tuesday, capping off the series' 2-day test at Barber Motorsports Park

----Even a spin and trip through the gravel couldn't slow down Helio Castroneves. The Team Penske driver bettered his best lap time by more than a half-second in the final session to top the two-day IZOD IndyCar Series Open Test on the 2.38-mile, 17-turn Barber Motorsports Park course.

Castroneves' best lap (his 48th of 52) of 1 minute, 11.943 seconds in the No. 3 Team Penske car was the quickest of the 24 cars to participate in the lone Open Test before the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg next week. Will Power, who led Day 1 of the test, was second-quickest with a lap of 1:11.9636 in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car during the first of the day's two practice sessions. Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon, Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe and Newman/Haas Racing's Oriol Servia rounded out the top five.

The IZOD IndyCar Series will open the 2011 season on March 27 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The series returns to Barber Motorsports Park for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 11.

---Watching the IZOD IndyCar Series Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park stirred memories for Felipe Giaffone, though he's content being on the other side of pit wall. Giaffone has been renewing acquaintances and making new ones this week in his capacity as an analyst for Rede Bandeirantes' (Band TV) coverage of the IZOD IndyCar Series races. The Brazilian network, founded in 1967, will broadcast all races live from the venues this season, broadening its commitment.

"Band is very excited about INDYCAR and they're putting a lot of money and more effort into the broadcasts," said Giaffone, who will work with Luciano do Valle in the booth. "Contributing to the broadcasts comes easy for me, and I pretty much know what's happening even though it's been awhile since I've been in the car. I've talked to a lot of people already so I feel prepared."

Giaffone recorded a victory at Kentucky Speedway in 2002 and finished third in the Indianapolis 500 the same year in 61 IZOD IndyCar Series races between 2001 and 2006 with four teams. He also competed in Indy Lights. At age 36, his racing career isn't over. Giaffone, whose father was the 1987 Stock Car Brazil champion, is a two-time champion and current points leader in the Formula Truck series in Brazil. Yes, they race truck tractors.

"Racing semi trucks is very popular in Brazil and my family runs the stock car (racing) business so I'm pretty much every weekend working somewhere," he said. "I also do all the official testing for the stock car series. I'm busy driving and I enjoy it a lot."

~~~Reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti made two requests of George Barber, whose vision for a world-class motorsports facility has been realized in his hometown, during a preview for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.

"I asked him if the curbs could stand out more when they paint them -- red and white as opposed to gray and white," he said. "I also told him I wouldn't mind borrowing the guy who cuts his grass because he does a hell of a job. If my wife sees what he's doing here, planting trees and stuff, it will be very expensive for me. It's a pretty special place."

The IZOD IndyCar Series, which concluded its two-day Open Test at the park-like facility, returns April 8-10 for the race weekend that will blossom into the biggest event in the state, according to Gene Hallman, president of ZOOM Motorsports (the exclusive event promoter for Barber Motorsports Park).

Already, the contract for the event has been extended one year through 2013. More than 85,000 spectators attended last year, with corporate support and ticket sales up this year leading into the second race on the series' calendar. Hallman attributed much of it to INDYCAR's increasing popularity and the entertaining show put on last April, plus the organization's due diligence in seeking improvements in the fan experience.

"If INDYCAR were a publicly traded stock, I'd buy it now," Hallman said. "The news it's generated in the last year is exciting, and it presents more than a great racing spectacle. We had more than 3,000 respondents to an online survey of ticket buyers and then proceeded to do focus groups of spectators and followed up with visits to all our corporate sponsors. We then internally compiled all our notes and put it into a thick document that we're referring to on a continual basis. The general sentiment was a resounding success, but there are areas to improve."

A PA system upgrade, larger video boards and additional parking shuttles have been and will be addressed. A Ferris wheel will tower over the backstretch. The interactive INDYCAR Fan Village will set up shop nearby. "We wanted to hear the feedback and want to make it better," Hallman continued. "This park was built with the spectator in mind and is about perfection. We know we'll never achieve perfection, but we'll make it as comfortable for our fans as possible. It was also built with the promoter in mind to make refinements, to adjust accordingly and move things. It is a canvas to paint on to make it better."

~~~Team owner Chip Ganassi is nominated for Executive of the Year and Chip Ganassi Racing is among the nominees for Team of the Year in the Sports Business Journal Awards to be presented May 18 in New York. Ganassi's racing operations won the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series and Grand-Am championships in addition to the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500. It added the Rolex 24 At Daytona title in late January.

"It's great to be recognized for all the hard work the teams put in," Ganassi said. "You have to remember that motorsports is one of those businesses that as great a year that 2010 was, and it was an unbelievable year and one that any car owner dreams about, that was last year and this is this year. It's a zero-based game. We're starting back at zero and the points are all tied for all the championships. It's a new year and no one is going to forget about last year faster than our competitors that want to beat us. It's going to be a lot of hard work and to accomplish anything close to what we did last year, but that's why we are back here. That's the kind of challenge that we like and what attracts us to the sport -- the challenge."

~~~Mike Conway's test came to an early end when his No. 27 Andretti Autosport car made contact with the tire barriers early in the morning session. Conway, whose team had been practicing live pit stops, lost control of his car after the team put on a new set of tires to begin its test day.

"The car handled a little differently than it did yesterday, and it just caught me out," Conway said. "I got on the grass coming out of (Turn) 15 and it was so wet, it took me straight into the barrier. It's a shame, but fortunately, it's just a test day."

Panther Racing rookie JR Hildebrand missed the full day of testing after the team determined his car could not be repaired at the track.

~~~For a rookie driver like Josef Newgarden, watching IZOD IndyCar Series cars testing at Barber Motorsports may have seemed like he was a kid waiting for Christmas Day. The young American is one of 12 drivers - and nine of whom are rookies -- who will participate in the Firestone Indy Lights Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park on March 16.

While he spent the day wandering the pit lane, he's ready to take the first step in becoming an IZOD IndyCar Series driver by driving his own car. "I'm really looking forward to tomorrow and getting in the car and learning this track," said Newgarden, who will drive the No. 11 for Sam Schmidt Motorsports.

While Newgarden is a newcomer to the series, Gustavo Yacaman is the most experienced driver in the championship, even though he just turned 20 a few weeks ago. "Preseason testing has gone really well and we've improved the car every time we've been out this winter," said Yacaman, who will drive the No. 2 car for Team Moore Racing in 2011. "I don't see why we can't be quickest tomorrow. It's the first official event of the season and it's good to scare everyone before the first race."

By scaring the competition, Yacaman hopes to show he has the speed to be considered the favorite to win not only his first race, but also the Firestone Firehawk Cup and the series championship. "This is the year that I have to get things done," Yacaman said. "I have two years in the series. I know the cars, I know the tracks and I know the league. I have the best team, the best engineer and the best car. I have everything behind me. It's up to me to get it done."
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Post by mlittle » Wed Mar 16, 2011 5:41 pm


HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, fastest of the day)
"I was expecting something different from the car because it kept changing throughout the day based on the track. I was expecting the car was going to push but it went the opposite way. The good news is that nothing was damaged. The field is so competitive; we have some new teams up at the top giving us a hard time. Also my teammates, they are two great talents - Ryan (Briscoe) and Will (Power) - pushing each other but I'm glad we were able to put the No. 3 up at the top at the end of the day."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske)
"This was a really good couple of days of testing and our Verizon car was very good. We did a lot of work and learned tons of valuable information about our car here at Barber. Today we practiced pit stops, which are every bit as important as speed on the track with how tight the competition is in this series. I am definitely ready to get this season started."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing)
"Team Target had a good couple of days with lots of big and good changes. The No. 9 Target Honda has been decent, remaining in the top-3 both days. We're just going through the motions and making necessary adjustments before we start the season in St. Pete."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 IZOD Team Penske)
"It was a really good couple of days here at Barber for the No. 6 IZOD Team Penske car. We are very happy with the car we finished with today. We even did a long run, which compromised our chance to do a sticker tire run for time, but we did a lot of great race prep and we should be in good shape for the race here in a few weeks. This is an exciting track and I'm very happy to be back in an IndyCar."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 02 Newman/Haas Racing)
"I'm so happy! Obviously it's great to be in the top-five, but I'm just so happy. When you are running in the top-five, there is a reason. I felt good in the car, with the team. I was a blast when I looked at the scoring board an hour before the end and we were one and two. That's the way Newman/Haas has always been, and that's the way it has to be and it just felt great that we got there with two days of testing. There is still a lot to come from myself and the car. We progressed big stages to get where we are and there is still more. I feel very happy; everybody is super motivated. James was super helpful all day yesterday and today with him knowing the track and I really hope we can be teammates. The two cars worked together really well and we made a lot of progress together. I'm very happy with the team and myself. When you are a year out of the car, of course you still think you can drive but it is just so great knowing it is true."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 06 Newman/Haas Racing)
"We made more progress today which was great. I was personally a little surprised with the pace we had yesterday; I wasn't quite expecting it. I woke up this morning hoping it wasn't some sort of flash in the pan. Luckily, we ran quick this morning; I think we were fourth quick behind the Penske boys and this afternoon the focus was going to be a little more on some longer runs. We did one new tire run which was good and put us right at the top for that time of day. And then I had a little moment on track again which ruined another set of tires, so it compromised the strategy a little bit for the rest of the day. That was it for new tire runs. We went back out to get some long runs in for the first race. We know we can run quick on a set of sticker tires so we need to see what we can do over a stint."
"I think we improved the Venom car today - we found a couple positive changes, but others are making bigger jumps than us. This is IndyCar racing and it's competitive so we'll keep reviewing our notes and be as ready as we can for St. Pete in a couple weeks."
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 22 Z-Line Designs)
"It was an up and down couple of days. We had times when we were quick and times where we struggled a little bit. I think that we need to go back and analyze all of those changes. We got lots of information and we need to make sure that we pick out the good ones. It's just part of testing, you can't always be quick at the right time. We were pretty good on old tires so that's encouraging and we found some things there. We just need to go and continue to work hard."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop)
"We've got some questions we need answered in the data. We're not happy with it yet. We made some gains, but right now the car is just a little too loose. The sweet spot for getting the lap time we want is just a little too small for us right now. We just need to look at some things and we will, and we will come back prepared. I'm just really looking forward to getting to the street circuit in St. Pete."
MIKE CONWAY (No. 27 Team Andretti Autosport)
"I was braking into turns 14 and 15; the rear got very, very loose. I corrected it once, corrected in twice, but the second time the rear just kissed the grass and that was it. With the wet grass, it just went straight off. It's disappointing because we had a lot to get through today. I feel sorry for the guys; it's a shame. But, I think we got through some good stuff here yesterday, so hopefully we'll come back here strong."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com)
"Another good test day for the GoDaddy.com car. We were able to build on the data that we collected from yesterday's sessions and found some more speed today. We still have work to do, but I believe we have a solid starting point. As I said yesterday, any amount of track time we can get is beneficial."
"We didn't end the day like we wanted to, but we made a couple changes near the end of the day and we're definitely starting to figure it out. We'll make the right changes and be good for the first race in St. Pete."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing)
"I think we struggled from the moment we got here. Scott has been fine and we need to work on our setup. It's up to myself and the engineers on the Target team to get this figured out. We'll go back to the drawing board. They put a lot of tires in the right places since last time I crashed here so I'm thankful they took our advice from a safety standpoint. Thanks to Mr. Barber and everyone here and I look forward to coming back for the race."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing)
"Overall, really good day for Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing. The No. 38 Service Central Honda ran great, we just didn't get to have a new tire run there at the end. We're looking forward to starting the season."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Levemir and Novolog FlexPen)
"Today was another productive day for Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing. We ran a lot of miles, made a lot of changes today and continued to make progress in the No. 83 Levemir FlexPen and NovoLog Honda. We're ready to head to St. Pete."
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 B&W Sam Schmidt Motorsports)
"It was a good test for us, overall, and I think we learned a lot this afternoon. There were some pretty interesting things that came out of it for us that are going to be really valuable for St. Petersburg. This morning, we tried something and we were obviously pretty out to lunch. But we recovered this afternoon with a much faster car. I went quicker right away on old tires, which was a good sign. It was an indication that our afternoon was going to be good. After that, we did some more trials on some different things. Some worked, some didn't. And by the end, when we decided to do our new tire run, we did a 12.8 on old tires, I thought we could end up in the top-five or the top-six, but things got crazy out there with a couple of yellows, and we ran out of time without the chance to lay down that lap that I felt we had in the car. It's a shame because it's always good to put a good lap time on the board. But we come out of this test with a lot of information and good knowledge about what to do and what not to do. I think we learned what kind of a car we're going to need when we come back here and our weekend will be more about fine-tuning rather than changing the car a lot. And, I feel we're a lot more ready for St. Pete."
ANA BEATRIZ (No. 24 Ipiranga)
"I think it was a very productive two days for me to understand the circuit, it's a very hard track for me. We improved a lot from yesterday and I think we could have gone a little bit faster, but it can always be like that. The most important thing is that we improved a lot and I think that is very good."
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The Wayward Tarheel I'm even in the blogosphere.... :shock:

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