IndyCar Test at Mid-Ohio

The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio isn’t until next weekend, but today there were several teams and drivers at the 2.258-mile road course. There were 17 cars in all that participated in today’s Verizon IndyCar Series test at Mid-Ohio, with official lap times kept under wraps, since it was a team test day.

While many teams were working on preparations for next weekend’s race, many others were using the opportunity to see what some of the up-and-coming drivers could do. The built-in rule to allow current IndyCar series drivers to test so long as they give equal opportunity to the newcomers is something that truly benefits everyone. Current Indy Lights driver RC Enerson tested in Dale Coyne’s No. 19 car today, and will return next week to make his debut in the series. His first IndyCar race will be on a tight track, but it made today’s test that much more valuable. Speaking to RACER.com earlier today, he said “I’m in for Mid-Ohio with Dale, and we’re trying to make Watkins Glen and Sonoma happen, but those aren’t confirmed yet.”

Felix Rosenqvist was fortunate enough to turn some laps in Scott Dixon’s No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi machine. Rosenqvist has won three Indy Lights races so far this season, and was blown away by the experience today. “The car was incredible to drive, it was unlike anything I’ve driven,” he said. “There’s so much downforce and so much grip, it’s crazy. It was really fun and I think we had a good test. We got up to speed quite quickly.” The rumor going around after today’s test was that Rosenqvist had the 4th fastest lap of the day, behind Team Penske drivers Will Power, Helio Castroneves, and Simon Pagenaud.

Andretti Autosport brought in their Formula E driver, Robin Frijns, to get behind the wheel of Ryan Hunter-Reay’s No. 28 Honda. Despite slipping off course once, he avoided disaster and was actually right on pace with Hunter-Reay’s best times. He has driven many different types of vehicles, so getting the handle on the car was his biggest concern. “The steering is heavy, especially at high speed when you are driving more, you go into the corners quicker and quicker, and the it’s getting heavier and heavier.”

Zachary Claman De Melo and Jack Harvey both tested with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. While Zachary was able to keep the car clean for Mikhail Aleshin, the same couldn’t be said for Harvey, who spun in Turn 6 and hit the wall. Unfortunately for he and the team, the car couldn’t be repaired to get James Hinchcliffe back out on the track. The good news was that Harvey was not injured.

The most interesting part of today’s test came at the hands of Tony Kanaan and JR Hildebrand. The two drivers were doing some aero configuration testing on behalf of IndyCar. Hildebrand was behind the wheel of Josef Newgarden’s No. 21 Chevrolet, as he continues to heal from his injuries. Hildebrand said that Tino Belli and Bill Pappas discussed their test plan with him at Iowa, and that they were concentrated on understanding the raceability of the cars. “There’s a lot to learn here,” Hildebrand said. “They want to test and figure out what’s best, and they want improve the racing without adding a bunch of artificiality.”

What really caught the eye of everyone was the configuration that Hildebrand was running in this photo that he posted earlier in the day.

The rear wheel guards were gone, and with the rear tires in plain sight once again, the car never looked so good. According to Marshall Pruett, IndyCar asked the Ganassi and ECR teams to bring additional cars to the test to evaluate multiple aero configurations, especially when running close together on course. Valuable track data was collected, and IndyCar competition President Jay Frye said that the direction of aero kits is becoming clearer.

The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio is next weekend, with Sunday’s race airing on CNBC at 2 PM ET.

Test Photos via IndyCar

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