Ryan Briscoe - Anne Proffit photoEnlarge Photo
INDYCAR has scheduled an open oval test, its second in-season oval test of the year following an early April run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This test takes place at Texas Motor Speedway and is scheduled for May 7. There was a two-car test at the 1.5-mile high-banked oval in February to establish an aerodynamic baseline for the Dallara DW12, but this time 11 drivers intend to participate, from seven teams.
The test takes place from 8:30 in the morning and runs until 5:30 in this afternoon, local time in Dallas, Texas. It occurs five days before the opening of practice for the 96th Indianapolis 500 on the 2.5-mile flat Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) oval. The event is free, open to the public with entry through Texas Motor Speedway's Gate No. 4.
"We're going to Texas to confirm that the aero spec that we laid down is correct," INDYCAR vice president of technology Will Phillips said. "We made a commitment that we would run cars at Texas in a small number and go back to run the cars in as big a group as possible prior to racing there. It will also give us an insight into Indianapolis."
The the February test, Dallara provided aero pieces for the production DW12 Chevrolet-powered race cars of Tony Kanaan and Ryan Briscoe; these were tested in a full-scale wind tunnel a month earlier. The production cars were slightly different from the prototype that had earlier been evaluated on the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway, at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA, Iowa Speedway's short oval and at IMS in the fall of 2011.
The changes were different mirrors, rear wheel fairings, together with subtle differences in chassis construction and better integration of the Zylon side intrusion panels.
Using data and driver feedback from the February test - along with the Open Tests at the Sebring International Raceway road course and at Indy, as well as after four road/street courses - Dallara has made refinements that produced qualifying event records for races held to date and exciting competition.
"We were able to work on the balance of the car while we were there and got it to where it felt really solid," said Briscoe, the 2010 winner of the Firestone 550 at Texas, of the February test. "We've had very limited oval track time in general, so it will be a good pre-Indy test as well. It's a good chance to run together and see what we've got."
The teams and drivers scheduled to take part in this test include: AJ Foyt Racing for Mike Conway and Wade Cunningham (Honda); Ed Carpenter Racing's Ed Carpenter, Rubens Barrichello of KV Racing Technology (both with Chevy), Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing for Charlie Kimball, Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing's Graham Rahal, Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti (all driving Honda-powered DW12 race cars), as well as the three Team Penske drivers, Briscoe, Helio Castroneves and Will Power with Chevrolet.
Cunningham, the 2005 Firestone Indy Lights champion who competed in the twin races at Texas Motor Speedway last June, will split time with Mike Conway in the No. 14 ABC Supply car while the team continues to prepare his No. 41 ECat/ABC Supply car for the Indy 500.
"We haven't been on a mile and a half yet so we want to experience that and get on an oval before Indy starts up," AJ Foyt Racing team director Larry Foyt said. "We'll give Wade some time in the new car to get comfortable and familiar with it before he starts Rookie Orientation Program (May 10)."
The Open Test will be preceded May 6 by Barrichello taking his IZOD IndyCar Series oval test. The former Formula One driver, who has registered three consecutive top-10 finishes, will also participate in the Rookie Orientation Program.