The Verizon IndyCar Series will kick of the Month of May a day early, as part of a three-day testing period at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The tests, originally scheduled for the last week of March, were postponed because of bad weather. The forecast for the week looks good, as testing is set for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
The first day of testing on April 30 will include 21 veteran and 2018 drivers. Tuesday is the first day of May, and will feature 7 drivers either doing refreshers or Rookie Orientation. The final day of testing on Wednesday will see 12 drivers take the track as part of a Manufacturers Test. Live streaming will be available on IndyCar.com for the first two days. Wednesday is a private test, so there will not be live streaming available.
Monday evening, Josef Newgarden will be the first driver to test the windscreen cockpit protection device on a Speedway. The windscreen is made of a proprietary material from PPG Aerospace called Opticor, similar to what the company uses to produce fighter jet canopies. Scott Dixon first tested the windscreen at Phoenix in February.
There are several drivers entered in this year’s Indianapolis 500 that are not able to participate in the tests. Those would include JR Hildebrand, Carlos Munoz, Conor Daly, Oriol Servia, Stefan Wilson, and James Davison. Fans can watch testing for free each day from the Turn 2 viewing mounds, Museum parking lot, and South Terrace Grandstands.
Monday, April 30: Veterans | 10 AM – 5 PM
- Tony Kanaan
- Marco Andretti
- Ryan Hunter-Reay
- Alexander Rossi
- Zach Veach
- Max Chilton
- Charlie Kimball
- Scott Dixon
- Ed Jones
- Sebastien Bourdais
- Ed Carpenter
- Spencer Pigot
- Gabby Chaves
- Jack Harvey
- Graham Rahal
- Takuma Sato
- James Hinchcliffe
- Helio Castroneves
- Josef Newgarden
- Simon Pagenaud
- Will Power
The conditions could not have been better on Monday, giving teams an opportunity to test in cooler temperatures, as well as more typical warm, May weather. When the session began at 10:00 this morning, several drivers rushed out of pit lane, led by Castroneves. The Brazilian is back in an IndyCar, in his quest for a fourth Indy 500 victory with Team Penske. Andretti was fastest in the busy morning session, and was third quick overall on the day.
With six hours of on-track activity, there were a total of 1,820 laps turned by the 21 drivers on Monday. Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion, led the way in his AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet with a lap of 226.181 mph. Pagenaud was second fastest, at 225.910 mph for Team Penske. Chaves and Dixon were behind Andretti to round out the top five on the speed chart. Five drivers put in more than 100 laps, with Newgarden (125) turning the most.
When asked about the difference between last year’s car, and the new common aero kit for this year, the drivers mostly agreed that it was very similar. Both Rahal and Kanaan stated that there was very little difference from a driving perspective, but that it could change in heavy traffic. Pagenaud didn’t seem to agree. “The universal aerokit is quite different. It behaves quite a bit different to what we’ve been used to the last few years. But overall it’s quite decent. The car is very stable. It sucks up pretty well on the straightaway.”
After the Open Test concluded, Newgarden went back onto the course, testing the windscreen cockpit protection device for the first time on a speedway. While there were some adjustments with his visor and getting used to the air flow, the test seemed to be a success. Further testing awaits, and IndyCar has not issued a timetable for implementation.
Below is a recap from today’s test, courtesy of IndyCar.
Tuesday, May 1: ROP/Refresher | 10 AM – 1 PM (ROP) 2 PM – 5 PM (Refresher)
- Robert Wickens (ROP)
- Matheus Leist (ROP)
- Kyle Kaiser (ROP)
- Danica Patrick
- Sage Karam
- Jay Howard
Rookies got the track first on Tuesday, where they each had to pass different phases in order to be able to practice for the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500. Leist and Kaiser got through their orientation without issue, but a gearbox issue on Wickens’ No. 6 car delayed his morning. Robert completed his orientation in Hinchcliffe’s car.
After lunch, it was refresher time for Danica, Sage, and Howard. This was the first time Danica drove an IndyCar since 2011, and she was just happy to get through the refresher test. “I just kind of wanted to get today over with,” she said. “Not in a negative sense, but it’s been seven years since I drove an Indy car here, it’s been a long time. I just wanted to get through today, get more comfortable and be able to get on with the job.” It wasn’t a smooth start, as a water temperature issue in the No. 13 ECR machine delayed her voyage around IMS.
Dreyer & Reinbold made their return to the speedway today, with a familiar face in Karam. The WIX Filters car looked amazing, and was quickly up to speed. Teammate JR Hildebrand was present as well, lending a helping hand any way he could. Howard also climbed into Hinchcliffe’s Honda in the afternoon to pass his refresher test.
A reminder that tomorrow’s test will not be live streamed, as it is a private test.
Wednesday, May 2: Manufacturers Test | 9 AM – 5 PM
- Tony Kanaan
- Matheus Leist
- Max Chilton
- Charlie Kimball
- Scott Dixon
- Ed Jones
- Ed Carpenter
- Spencer Pigot
- Danica Patrick
- Gabby Chaves
- James Hinchcliffe
- Robert Wickens
The final day of testing saw the same warm temperatures, but considerably higher wind. Drivers were able to manage the gusty wind, and put down some impressive speeds. Kanaan was fastest once again, with a top speed of 226.680 mph. Fellow Chevrolet drivers Carpenter (224.466 mph) and Chaves (223.658 mph) were second a third fastest.
Danica’s second day of testing left her feeling more comfortable after a few adjustments. “I was flat out…so everything has felt really good,” she said. “Today was about building confidence, not breaking it, so even if all I do is drive around with really nominal changes all day and just kind of keep feeling it and feeling it, that is a successful day today.”
IMS President Doug Boles explained that there were a few areas of the track that had some work done since the Fall. There were 16 locations where there were bumps, particularly at the exit of Turn 2, the entry of Turn 3, and the exit of Turn 4. After the grinding work was complete, Doug took some laps around with Dixon, who was one of the drivers that IMS consulted with. There were a few concerning areas, and they brought in some rollers and rolled out those areas. Firestone says there was been no effect on tire performance, and Boles stated that there is still another 3-5 years before another repaving of the surface will be needed. The last time the speedway was repaved was the summer of 2004.
With testing now complete, the Month of May is set to begin next weekend with the IndyCar Grand Prix. Practice and qualifying will take place on Friday, and the race is scheduled for 3:30 PM ET on Saturday. The next on-track activity will come on Tuesday, May 15 at 11 AM which is the first official practice day for the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500.
Josef Newgarden: (About the windscreen test he completed at the end of the day):”It was fascinating. It was totally different for an open-wheel car. You’re not used to having a windscreen that big in front of you, but it was interesting to try it out. The most interesting thing to me was the visor changes (on his helmet). Going from a fully-smoke visor to a clear visor was better. It helped with the visibility and the clarity. There’s small improvements to be made, especially with the clarity with the visors and the perception to see through it. It was easy to make it work, I didn’t have any major issues with it, and I think INDYCAR did a nice job.”
Helio Castroneves: “Great day today to be back at Indianapolis. To be back in an Indy car – my Pennzoil Chevy – plus the new car. What a day. We ran a lot and felt we started to build a foundation to new setups. We will regroup and look at what my teammates did and comeback with an even better plan to achieve the big dream of (Indianapolis 500 win) No. 4.”
James Hinchcliffe: “Solid first day in the Arrow Electronics car. Obviously, we still have a lot to learn with this new car, and we have many days left to try and figure it out. We had a test plan where we had some big-ticket items that we wanted to knock off; we weren’t necessarily going for outright speed today. We got those items ticked off, so a pretty smooth day for us, and I’m happy with how we’ve started.”
Scott Dixon: “I think most teams are probably just running through their test items trying to understand the new aero kit that we have here and how it works in traffic or by yourself. There’s a list of things that we need to try and check off. But so far, so good, everyone is running really fast and it’s a perfect day, even here in April.”
Will Power: “It is definitely different, and we went through a lot of changes today, but it feels the same when you get the balance right. Pretty productive day for the Verizon Chevy team with all four cars trying things. So now, we have to go digest the data and see what works best. With four cars, you focus on your own car and keep working until you find what works best and what you struggle with. Then you go to the engineering trailer and get all the data from all four cars and what worked and what didn’t. That is why multiple cars work so well.“
Tony Kanaan: “I know it sounds like every year we come back the first day, everybody has a huge smile on their faces. I love it. I love this place. I mean, it’s magical. I wish we could do this every race. But awesome to be back. For me, one of the things on my bucket list. A.J. (Foyt, team owner) is not here, so I have not driven the golf cart into pit lane. But if that will happen, garage No. 1, that’s pretty cool. A lot shorter from Gasoline Alley to the garage, too. A lot of new things for me that I hadn’t experienced in the past year. So happy to be back. It was a beautiful day out there. Got a lot of laps in, a lot of learning to do…ready to come back Wednesday.” (About reaction to 2018 car on a superspeedway): “I think it was pretty smooth. You saw everybody came up to speed pretty fast, which is pretty remarkable, in my opinion. To me it was a lot quicker down the straightaways, which was quite fun. It was like back in the day. You definitely feel the speed going down the straightaway. You have to hang on into the corners. A little bit different, to be honest, but fun. I don’t know what to expect running in traffic. I didn’t do a lot of running in traffic yet. I’ll wait till a couple days from now that we will do some racing stuff. We concentrate today on understanding the car and trying to get a feel for how the car behaves. To do that, I prefer to do it on my own.”
Graham Rahal: “I think it was definitely a good, solid start for us. I think the car (with the new aero kit) is going to race really, really well. I am definitely pleased with what I saw. Overall, I think it is going to be plenty quick. It’s still early days for sure, but all signs point us in the right direction. As a team, I think we had a really good, solid day. As you always do at Indy, we had times that we didn’t feel all that great about the situation, and in the race running at the end the United Rentals Honda felt really strong. We’ll see. It’s great to be back at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Obviously, we had such a beautiful day today, so it was a great way to kick off the month of May.”
Ed Carpenter: “Today was a good start to what I consider to be the start of the Month of May! We were able to get through the bulk of our test list and I feel we are off to a good start. There are certainly some areas to improve on, but for the first day in a new car, the Fuzzy’s Vodka team did a great job and we came here prepared to go.”
Spencer Pigot: “I feel we had a good day today. We got through pretty much all of the changes we had planned, it’s always nice to be able to tick off those boxes and get a head start before we come back for official practice. We made some good improvements and were able to go fairly quick at the end of the day. Overall, I’m happy with the Preferred Freezer Services Chevy and I’m excited to see what we can do next.”
Simon Pagenaud: “Always such a pleasure to drive here. Having the opportunity to be one of those drivers to hit the track 240 mph, it’s pretty cool. We did a lot of work today. It was really a good day of testing. Great day, great conditions for testing, as well. Universal aero kit is quite different. It behaves quite a bit different to what we’ve been used to the last few years. But overall, it’s quite decent. The car is very stable. It sucks up pretty well on the straightaway. I think the racing is going to be interesting. You can see the times. Makes a big difference, too. Overall, I think it’s still early days to tell how your car is going to behave in traffic. We’re just scratching the surface at the moment with what we need to go out and try to win the race. Very good first impression. Like I say, we didn’t made a lot of different changes. We had something quite radically different this afternoon than this morning. We’re going to go back to the shop and study all that with the engineers and try to figure out the sensitivity of the car. That’s the biggest key.”
Charlie Kimball: Honestly, I don’t think you could have scripted a better first day for the No. 23 car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It’s the first time Carlin has ever run on a superspeedway, it’s brand new bodywork…mechanically, we were really safe, really conservative all day long. We started to tune and get some lap speed out of it towards the end of the day. Honestly, it gives us a really good foundation moving forward. We’ve got a day on Wednesday, we’ll work through some more details, work through some more information, and then we’ll be in good shape when we come back here to start the month of May.”
Takuma Sato: “We had a very productive day today. We learned a lot for the first time (with the new universal aero kit), obviously, learning a new superspeedway package at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Talking about IMS, it’s just an unbelievable feeling and experience (to run here). It doesn’t matter what car or which number you are in, because the moment I did an installation lap, I flashed back to last year (to his Indianapolis 500 win). It’s so nice to be part of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It’s been a great day with gorgeous weather. We can’t ask for better than that. We did try quite a few directions to see which one works best, and I think Graham (Rahal) and I are both happy and I think we gathered a lot of good data, so it was a good day.”
Max Chilton: “Very impressive first day for a team that has never driven an Indy car on the hardest track in North America. We had a really smooth day and made good changes. Every time we made a change, it was better. We never took a change off the car. It was a really nice, solid first day with no issues. Fingers crossed we can have more of that Wednesday and come into the month of May with some speed behind a rookie team.”
Jack Harvey: “A lot has happened since I was here last year when I met Michael (Shank) and now we are back this year with Meyer Shank Racing and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. It’s a brand new car from what we raced last year and honestly today we just wanted to dot the “i”s and cross the “t”s. But we had a really great day. The time sheet didn’t reflect how well I felt that we were doing but we all finished the day feeling confident in what we learned. There’s something special here for me – I won the Freedom 100, it’s the home of racing in America, I live in Indy. But really this is where Michael and I started our adventure and our relationship. I am just super excited for May because it brings back all sorts of emotions.”
Gabby Chaves: “Feeling really positive finishing P4 in both practice sessions today for the open test. The No. 88 crew has worked so hard the past few months for the 2018 season and hasn’t had the chance to show it. I know we’re able to fight against these guys, so what better way than during the month of May. This is going to be fun.”