The next race for the Verizon IndyCar Series is still 18 days away, but there was plenty of action today at Barber Motorsports Park. This was the site of another Open Test, which saw the full field of drivers participating. Juan Montoya joined the rest of the field, as he drove the No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet for the first time since last year’s season-ending race at Sonoma. Montoya will drive in both races at IMS in May, seeking his third Indy 500 victory.
Will Power was at the top of the chart on Tuesday, with a best lap of 1:07.7518 seconds. Max Chilton, Josef Newgarden, Juan Montoya, and Marco Andretti rounded out the top five. Takuma Sato led the first session, and was sixth overall on the day. The top 14 drivers were all separated by less than a half-second.
There were a total of 1,147 laps among the 22 drivers, with no major incidents reported.
The 2.3-mile road course will play host to the third race this season, which takes place on April 23. It is a place that has seen multiple winners, most of which coming from Roger Penske’s stable. In fact, all four current Penske drivers have won at Barber, as they have won five of the seven races there. The only other driver to win is Ryan Hunter-Reay, who has done it twice. Surprisingly enough, Scott Dixon has never been to victory lane at the scenic road course. He has six podiums at Barber, with four of them being runner-up finishes.
Montoya didn’t seem to miss a beat after being out of the car for so long. “I feel like I drove the car yesterday,” he said. “It’s kind of fun. I’ve been out of the car since September, but I feel fine. I have a new crew, new guys, new engineer. It’s working really well.” While there are many new team members, Montoya feels as though part of today’s test was everyone getting acquainted with each other. “It’s more about us going through changes and understanding what I like and what I don’t and how big of a difference the changes make, so when we get to the Indy road course, we know what to do. It’s a good bonding experience for us. It’s fun. It’s nice to be out here.”
Next up will be a pair of manufacturer tests on the oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Honda is scheduled for this Saturday, with Ganassi’s four cars, both cars from SPM, and Graham Rahal with RLL. Andretti Autosport won’t be there, but will instead be testing at Sebring on March 28. Chevrolet will have their test at IMS next Saturday, April 1. All Chevy cars will be on hand for that test; the four Penske machines, both Foyt cars, as well as both cars from ECR.
Below is a visor cam video with Alexander Rossi from today’s test, courtesy of IndyCar.
Photos courtesy of IndyCar