There were 11 cars that participated in today’s test at Road America. There was a surprise driver on hand, and it wasn’t JR Hildebrand. Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski was on hand for the test today at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion threw on his Miller Lite fire suit, and climbed into Simon Pagenaud’s No. 22 Chevrolet. Pagenaud shook down the car for Keselowski late in the day, so that he could turn some laps in an IndyCar around the 4.048-mile road course.
The drivers testing at Road America today were Pagenaud, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, Carlos Munoz, Alexander Rossi, Tony Kanaan, Max Chilton, Hildebrand, Spencer Pigot, Graham Rahal, and James Hinchcliffe. It was Keselowski that probably had the most fun on Wednesday though, calling it one of the best days of his life.
“I’ve always wanted to drive an IndyCar, I think Tim Cindric knew that,” Keselowski said. “The opportunity came up to dip my toes in the water and kind of expand my knowledge base and put it in the back of my mind for wherever it goes, I don’t know. But it was a heck of an opportunity and I’m glad to have a chance. Simon was fast, really fast, and gave me a good rabbit to chase. I learned a ton today and had a lot of fun. I’ve got to let it soak in here to think about all of it.”
Keselowski went on to talk about the major differences between the IndyCar and the stock car. “I think the Indy car just pulls so many G’s through the center of the corner and in the brake zone. You have to build confidence in it because the stock car does everything it can to wreck your confidence and in the Indy car it’s important to have confidence. So you have to kind of unlearn everything you learned in a stock car to be good in these cars. That’s a heck of a process but a fun one.”
Teams are preparing for next weekend’s event, the Kohler Grand Prix at Road America. It will be the first time since 2007 that the open wheel cars race around the long, scenic road course. Sebastien Bourdais won that race, and many of the current Verizon IndyCar Series drivers have raced at Elkhart Lake before. Still, it’s a return that people have been wanting to see happen for many years.
Rahal showed off the all-yellow livery for his GEHL sponsored Honda, which apparently turned a lot of laps today.
One driver that won’t be able to compete in this race is Josef Newgarden. After breaking his collar bone in last weekend’s horrific crash at Texas Motor Speedway, the Ed Carpenter Racing team have already named Hildebrand as his replacement until Josef is ready to return to the cockpit. It’s an opportunity for Hildebrand, and the team will still run two cars, with Pigot in the No. 20 car that weekend.
IndyCar provided some In-Car Theater with both Rahal and Hinchcliffe from today’s test:
Below are some photos from today’s test, courtesy of IndyCar.