Charlie Kimball - Anne Proffit photoEnlarge Photo
The IZOD IndyCar Series scheduled a pre-event test at MId-Ohio Sports Car Course on July 26 and fully 24 drivers showed up to practice in anticipation of the Honda Indy 200 at the track next weekend. Simona de Silvestro already tested at the venue earlier this month.
The full-day session ended 90 minutes early as a shower burst through the Ohio countryside, but not before fully half the field were between one and two seconds quicker than the 2011 marks set in practice and qualifying for the marquee event over the 2.258-mile, 13-turn MId-Ohio undulating road course.
There was one major incident during the day: Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing Honda driver Charlie Kimball was injured at the test. Kimball broke his right hand and was treated for a fracture of the fifth metacarpal at MedCentral Hospital in nearby Mansfield. He's expected to be re-evaluated on Friday with the help of an Indianapolis-based specialist and at this time his status for next week's race is unknown.
Scott Dixon, the Target Ganassi Honda driver who has won three of the last five contests held at this racetrack remarked, "The new car is quick without even putting red (Firestone Firehawk) tires on. I can't wait until next weekend to make up points," he said. Dixon is currently fourth in the series points chase with four races remaining in the season - two of them on road courses (Mid-Ohio and Sonoma Raceway at Sears Point). He's 51 points behind leader Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Chevy driver J.R. Hildebrand in the National Guard Panther Racing Indy car thought it was an "important test for us because there are a lot of things we can take away from here and bring to Sonoma," the final weekend of August. "We'll test there as well (August 17) - this is a pretty critical point in the season for us too, as a team, to improve our pace a little and make sure we end on the right note from a road-course perspective," he said.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan's Takuma Sato (Honda) completed about 120 miles of testing at the track and was pleased with his team's progress. "It was a good test today despite being cut short by the weather. We were able to check a number of things like (gear) ratios, ride height and the other initial things you check in the first practice session of a race weekend. It was nice to get it done this morning.
"It was quite good making changes" in the afternoon session. "You can feel the changes improving the car and you know you are collecting very valuable data so it was a productive day," Sato said.
The Honda Indy 300 at MId-Ohio Sports Car Course is scheduled for next weekend August 3-5 and features a Saturday American Le Mans Series contest to complement the Indy cars.