Thursday, February 25, 2010

Test at Barber Motorsports Park Ignites Spark for 2010 IZOD IndyCar Season

Photo Credit: Ron McQueeney/IndyCar

With various changes shaping the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series (the first of which being the IZOD title sponsor), the race teams of the upcoming season are eager to determine how their off-season structuring measures up to their rival competitors. Barber Motorsports Park, braced to hold their first IndyCar Series race on April 11th, played host to the most significant open test for the open wheel racing teams before the green flag falls on the 2010 IndyCar series on the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil. With the number of road courses exceeding the ovals for the first time since the IRL-based open wheel tour was founded in 1996, the mastery of left and right turning will prove pivotal to the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series Championship.

Photo Credit: Ron McQueeney/IndyCar

Of course, the powerhouse teams of Penske Racing and Target/Chip Ganassi Racing are the likely benchmarks for the field after dominating the IndyCar tour last season. Only Dale Coyne Racing's broke through the superteam stranglehold in 2009 when Justin Wilson's pulled off the upset win at Waltkins Glen. At Barber Motorsports Park, the Penske Racing team appears more even more prepared than their best efforts of 2009. Unveiling their new look livery, the 3 Penske pilots of 2010 were among 3 of the top 4 cars residing on the peak of the time charts. In two practice sessions, Ryan Briscoe was the fastest car in the first day of testing blistering around the 17-turn, 2.3 mile complex in 1 minute and 10.5052 seconds. With a top time just two-tenths of a second slower than Briscoe is Penske Racing teammate Helio Castroneves. Besides posting fast speeds, both Penske runners ran more than 60 laps in shaking down their Dallara-Honda race cars. Completing Penske's triple threat to the 2010 championship, Will Power was 4th quickest overall in the first day test. Planted 3rd in the test time sheet surrounded by the Penske Racing machines is Justin Wilson, readying his debut with the #22 Dreyer/Reinhold Racing car in just a few weeks.

On this first of two days of testing for the IZOD IndyCar teams, Target/Chip Ganassi Racing with defending series champion Dario Franchitti are running respectable though not excellent times. Franchitti's best time was only good enough for 9th on the day but Scott Dixon rode a quarter of a second quicker clocked 5th overall.

Showing some serious promise with drivers who were signed just under a week ago, KV Racing Technology cars fared favourably so far. Led by EJ Viso recording a 6th fastest time, IndyCar rookie Takuma Sato was only one position behind has KV Racing teammate. Sato also tied in recording the most laps completed in the test with 70 laps (Conquest Racing's rookie Mario Romancini also ran 70 laps).

Photo Credit: Ron McQueeney/IndyCar

A continuance of a trend through this winter season which played a factor in the 2010 Speedweeks action in Daytona, climate in the usually more temperate south have led to lower than average temperatures. In the Birmingham area, low temperatures were beneath the freezing mark and only peaked at 47 degrees Fahrenheit. In comparison, the 2010 Olympic Winter Games weather in Vancouver, British Columbia were pegged at just degrees lower than the high at Barber Motorsports Park. The colder than normal temperatures that were forecasted for Birmingham, Alabama provoked FAZZT Race Team to decide in favour of sitting out the open test altogether. With the second test session being faster in the slightly warmer afternoon weather, all cars set their fast times during the 2nd practice with exception to Mike Conway. Setting 4th fastest time in the earlier practice session, Conway's run in the #24 car was only 17th for the day.

Photo Credit: Ron McQueeney/IndyCar

The more practice sessions for the 2010 IZOD IndyCar series runners are scheduled for Thursday at Barber Motorsports Park with weather conditions mirroring the Wednesday session.

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