While they haven’t posted the expected stellar results so far this season, they showed the potential to begin this month in open wheel’s most important month of competition.
Defending Verizon IndyCar Series Champion Scott Dixon topped the speed charts on Wednesday in his No. 9 Target Dallara Chevrolet-powered IndyCar as the series tested on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course for the first time. Dixon led the session on the 2.439 mile course with a lap one minute and 9.5969 seconds.
“I’ve obviously got a big smile on my face. The track was so much fun today,” Dixon commented. “The thing they captured, it’s a demanding circuit. The cars all seem very close which is going to create some fantastic racing. These big straights, I think Brazil is probably the only other time we’ve had a straight similar length like this. You’re actually a lot lower here. The sections, especially (Turns) 7, 8, 9, 10 keeps you on your toes. I’m really impressed with how everything’s gone. Even the curbing, they’ve done a fantastic job.”
He was followed by teammate Ryan Briscoe, who joined CGR for the full schedule after running a partial schedule last year for Panther Racing. Briscoe agreed with Dixon’s sentiments on enjoying the track, in saying that turn one and seven will make good passing zones.
“I think just huge improvements over what was the F1 track with extending the straight down the middle, slowing down Turn 7, then opening up the next set of S’s in (Turns) 8, 9 and 10 where it used to be very slow and now it’s really fast and challenging,” Briscoe added. “Great track. Great job by everyone here that was a part of making it happen.”
Simon Pagenaud, who has been fast all season, was third quickest.
“It’s a beautiful layout. They’ve done a really, really good job here,” he commented. “It suits the IndyCar really well, I think. It’s very smooth. It’s the smoothest track we go to. It’s enjoyable. Quite a bit of high-speed corners, medium-speed corners, a lot of braking, which is going to be good for racing. I enjoyed it. I think the rhythm of the track is enjoyable as a driver. Chicane, seven, eight, nine section, is quite enjoyable as well. You get pretty busy in the car during the day. That was a lot of fun today.”
Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves was fourth, followed by Barber Motorsports Park winner Ryan Hunter-Reay. Current points leader Will Power was sixth quickest, followed by Justin Wilson, Juan Pablo Montoya, James Hinchcliffe and rookie Jack Hawksworth.
The first annual Grand Prix of Indianapolis is scheduled for May 10th.