INDIANAPOLIS – Following eight consecutive weekends of on-track activity, there’s one more point of business for most IZOD IndyCar Series teams this week before personnel grab a few days off.
Manufacturer/private testing is scheduled for three venues – two of which are approaching on the schedule.
“Pocono is our next big challenge; we need to turn our attention to that and try and be as fast as we can there,” Graham Rahal, driver of the No. 15 Midas/Big O Tires car for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, said about the 2.5-mile oval where he and teammate James Jakes will log laps June 25. “That’s the goal right now.”
Open Tests during the week leading into races at Pocono Raceway (July 4; race July 7), Mid-Ohio (July 31; race Aug. 4) and Sonoma Raceway (Aug. 21; race Aug. 25) also are scheduled.
The Pocono IndyCar 400 Fueled by Sunoco (noon ET on ABC) will be the first Indy car race on the triangular oval since 1989, and is the second leg in the Fuzzy’s Triple Crown that will award the winner of all three races on the superspeedways $1 million. Tony Kanaan, the Indianapolis 500 winner, has a leg up. If a driver wins two of the three (the third leg is the season finale at Auto Club Speedway on Oct. 19), they’ll receive a $250,000 bonus.
“The more testing you can do, the better it is going to be for everyone on the team,” said Jakes, driver of the No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts car. “I think it was a good to change from Mid-Ohio to Pocono as we only have one test there before the race, and having never been there before it could take a little bit of learning. Also if the pre-race test is rained out then it could have been very difficult so, for me, it was a good decision.”
Chip Ganassi’s three IndyCar teams will be testing at Sebring (Fla.) Int’l Raceway on June 26.
“It will be hot down there, which will be good for (street course races at) Toronto, Baltimore and Houston,” said Charlie Kimball, who will join teammates Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon at Sebring.
Also on June 26, Power will participate in a straight line test at the GM Proving Grounds in Milford, Mich., in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car.
Additionally, Simon Pagenaud and Sebastien Bourdais will continue racing this weekend. Pagenaud will drive a Honda Odyssey in the Pikes Peak Int’l Hill Climb, while Bourdais will travel from Pocono’s test session to Watkins Glen, N.Y., to compete in the Grand-Am race at The Glen.
“(Racing) is what I love to do,” said Bourdais, who will drive his motor coach from Iowa to Watkins Glen (with a stop at Pocono for testing).