Four IndyCar teams took to the track today, testing at Sebring International Raceway. Andretti Autosport (Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, Carlos Munoz), SPM (James Hinchcliffe, Conor Daly), CFH Racing (Newgarden, Filippi), and RLL Racing (Rahal) all turned laps in preparation for the upcoming season.
This was a private test, so no times were made available. Andretti showed off his new look on Monday, sporting the number 27 on his blue and white Honda. He wasn’t the only Andretti Autosport car with a different number, as Munoz’s car had 26 instead of 34 (the number he used last season). Rahal also had a much different look, with his bright orange and blue Mi-Jack Products sponsored machine.
Quotes from the drivers at today’s test:
Hinchcliffe: “It’s really the start of the new year and the new season. We did our one (on-track test) day back in December, but that was kind of get-to-know-you and now we’re really getting to work. Obviously, we don’t have the bodywork kits yet and that’s what we’re all excited for, but there is still enough items for us to run through and it’s been a productive day.”
Filippi: “I can’t tell you how happy I am. I’ve been chasing a (Verizon IndyCar Series) contract for a while and I don’t remember the last time I had the opportunity to have a proper program with a proper contract in time to go testing and make things right before the first race. I’m looking forward to working with the guys, the team is getting bigger and the goal is for everybody to do well. I couldn’t ask for a better situation.”
Newgarden: “Having Luca (Filippi) here has been fun to learn his traits and what we both like in trying to maximize two cars. That’s the big thing for us – how to do that efficiently and keep up with everyone else. It’s been fun just getting back in the car after a long winter break.”
Hunter-Reay: “It’s great to be back with the whole team. It’s kind of strange because we’ve been testing the aero kit and now we’re back with the old package. We’re working on quite a few things we found over the winter and some questions we had from the end of last season so having all three drivers here, running through it will give us a good direction to start the season.”
Munoz: “It’s been a long time since I drove a car on a road course and we got up to speed quickly. It’s also good to be back with my teammates (Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay) and with the 26 (car) group, which is the same as last year. It’s good to have that continuity.”
Andretti: “It’s always fun to be in the car. Though we’re not using the new aero kit yet, we can still get a lot of team things done. We’re still checking boxes on some of the bigger items right now and working our way on preparing for the season opener.”
Rahal: “We’re ready to get going and excited to be out here. This is the start of the whole season for us. We have a few test days with this aero kit and then we’ll be put on hold until the new aero kit comes out. It will be busy when that times comes, too. It’s nice to be out here for sure.”
There will be more testing next week, where there could be as many as 15 drivers hitting the pavement at the new NOLA Motorsports Park. The Verizon IndyCar Series will be racing there for the first time on March 12, which is now the second race of the season.
There was plenty of IndyCar news outside of Florida today though. Bryan Herta Autosport announced the signing of their driver for this season, last year’s Indy Lights Champion, Gabby Chaves. IMS also released the “Month of May” schedule for this year, which does feature a few changes.
The month will open with oval testing on May 3, with the new aero kits. There will be no track activity on May 10 (Mothers Day) as the crew will work to convert the Speedway from the road course configuration, to the oval. The following day, there will be an hour of practice added in an attempt to bring in more fans that normally aren’t able to make it because of work. Practice will run until 7 PM that day only.
IndyCar also announced that there will be no races or tests on March 8, the date that was originally scheduled to be the season opener in Brazil. The race was cancelled by Brazilian officials, citing that it was too costly for the local government. The first race of the season will take place at St Petersburg on March 29.