Six drivers representing six different teams were able to lay some laps around the famous 2.5 mile oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Wednesday. The private test was scheduled for Firestone and IndyCar to work on tire and aero configurations to be used next season on the superspeedways. While weather can be unpredictable in the middle of October, conditions were good as the sunshine warmed up the dark pavement.
Four of the six drivers on hand today have each won the Indianapolis 500 one time. Scott Dixon (Ganassi), Alexander Rossi (Andretti), and Graham Rahal (RLL Racing) represented the Honda teams, while Ed Carpenter (ECR), Tony Kanaan (Foyt), and defending Indy 500 winner Will Power (Penske) were the Chevrolet participants.
Though the weather will be drastically different in May, Rossi believes what they were working with today should provide what everyone is looking for. “How it equates in May when ambient and track temp a lot different is a mystery to all of us, but something good now won’t be bad. Everyone wants to make sure the 103rd running is more of what the fans and drivers can be happy with, and more of what we’re used to.”
Kanaan stated that they tried a couple of different packages and new pieces that Dallara made in an effort to provide more downforce and bring the racing closer together. The six cars were running together for most of the afternoon.
Rahal was pleased with the aerodynamics, but he felt as though the tires were the majority of the gain that drivers experienced today. “The opportunity to have some wickers and other stuff that can help the racing, like tunnels – nothing’s definite yet, but it would be great if we’re not so handcuffed.” He praised the efforts of Jay Frye and his team.
“The 2018 tire we had, had a pretty strong issue in the way it worked,” said Dixon. “The 2019 tire we tested today is much more consistent, it’s easier to feel what it’s doing and the grip level is up. Firestone did a good job. I think it will play well across the board at Pocono and Iowa, and it’s definitely a good construction and compound.”
The speedway had a different look, as the pavement was much darker after some work done over the last few weeks. A new asphalt penetrant was applied, and should help preserve the life of the pavement through the winter. While many thought that the track had been repaved, it actually hasn’t been since 2004.
The drivers all agreed that it was a positive day, and feel that the racing will be improved at places like Indianapolis, Texas, and Pocono now that IndyCar and Firestone have this information. The next scheduled test on the IMS oval will be the April 24 test a few weeks before practice begins for the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500.
Photos courtesy of IndyCar