Thursday, February 25, 2010

Day 2 of IndyCar Test at Barber Motorsports Park: Power Boosted to Front

Photo Credit: Ron McQueeney/IndyCar

In the second day of the IZOD IndyCar Series open test, contenders in the 2010 open wheel racing circuit left the Barber Motorsports Park with full notebooks (perhaps more laptops at this time in auto racing) containing their gains and shortcomings. Averaging approximately 140 miles a piece through the two days, 20 Indy cars have attacked the 2.38 miles road course for what was the third and final session for the 2010 IZOD IndyCar series teams.

Taking on Barber Motorsports Park complex on a cool, sunny Thursday afternoon, speeds in two day testing showed significant pace increases. In session 3 runs, 9 IndyCar drivers posted times faster than the session 2 effort of Ryan Briscoe. As the IndyCar times dropped, Penske Racing's dominance from Wednesday spilled over to the Thursday IndyCar test session proving that the rest of the IZOD IndyCar has a reason to be concerned heading into 2010. On Thursday, Penske Racing cars swept the top 3 positions. However, a change came as Will Power took the lead. In fact, Power's fastest time was the only lap in the 2 day test that a driver was able to clock under the 1 minute, 10 second mark at 1:098724 lap time.

In hot pursuit of the Roger Penske 3-car team, Scott Dixon ran 4th fastest on the day in the #9 Target/Chip Ganassi Racing car. As for Target/Chip Ganassi Racing's reigning IndyCar Series Championship driver Dario Franchitti, the Scotsman's Thursday run equated to a second to last fast time. Limiting himself to a 3 lap shakedown on the second two, Dario Franchitti ran the second-fewest laps amongst all participants in the IndyCar test.

Continuing the prove Dreyer/Reinbold Racing as a force to be reckon with for the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series, Justin Wilson made his third consecutive appearance amongst the top 5 on the time chart. While Wilson's speed seems to indicate a stronger Dreyer/Reinbold Racing during the two-day open test, teammate Mike Conway's performance in test session 3 showed true gains. Having left Wednesday with a speed nearly one and a half seconds slower than day's leader Briscoe, Conway top time in day two was only 0.38 seconds off the new IndyCar pacesetter.

Photo Credit: Ron McQueeney/IndyCar

Taking a break from her much-publicized NASCAR Nationwide Series endeavours, the very busy Danica Patrick returned to her familiar #7 Indy car. While Patrick had trouble finding front-running speed, this lack of speed plagued the whole four-car Andretti Autosport team. Team newcomer Ryan Hunter-Reay is still traveling the learning curve in the #37 car, recording a 14th overall fastest time around Barber Motorsports Park. Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti reminded situated in the middle of test time sheets throughout the three IndyCar practice sessions. After two days, Marco Andretti showed the quickest speed of the four-car team averaging 117.621 miles per hour within a single 2.38 mile lap.

Photo Credit: Ron McQueeney/IndyCar

Providing an impressive two day of testing after showing some early speed on Wednesday, Formula 1 veteran Takuma Sato best time placed the Japanese driver 5th on the overall test chart in his #5 KV Racing Technology car. Running more laps than any other driver in the three IZOD IndyCar test sessions at Barber Motorsports Park, Sato appears well-prepared to enter his first year of competition in the North American open wheel racing series. Running almost as many laps as Sato, Conquest Racing's rookie driver Mario Romancini also used the Barber test to gain as much pre-season seat time in the #34 car.

As the test wrapped up, there were IndyCar veteran drivers noticeably absent from the activities at Barber Motorsports Park, Graham Rahal and Mario Moraes. Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing brought only one car to the test for their newly-acquired driver Hideki Mutoh leaving guesses for whether the team will even run two cars in 2010. Speculation has also mentioned Rahal considering a venture into NASCAR (historically, not a particularly smart move for open wheel drivers). As for Moraes, KV Racing Technology appears not to be giving up hope in campaigning the driver. Mario Moraes would no doubt want to see a deal formulated for the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series opener. Sao Paulo, Brazil which is his birthplace.

Like every test, it will remain to be seen if the success or struggles of a few laps will be truly telling of the 2010 season for the IZOD IndyCar Series tour.

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