FORT WORTH, Texas – Tristan Vautier’s attention was captured by the speed of the IZOD IndyCar Series car on the 1.5-mile, high-banked Texas Motor Speedway oval.
It wasn’t the first time Vautier had driven on an oval – he won at Milwaukee and garnered four top-five finishes in as many races in Firestone Indy Lights – but the first session on a superspeedway in an IZOD IndyCar Series car, though, was “eye opening.”
“Everything happens to you faster, but I think it feels that way when it’s your first time in a new car on a new track until your brain gets used to it,” said Vautier, who drove the Honda-powered No. 55 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports car on March 27.
Vautier, who made his IZOD IndyCar Series debut at St. Petersburg, was joined by A.J. Allmendinger in the No. 2 IZOD Team Penske car and Carlos Munoz in Marco Andretti’s car for rookie oval orientation. The session was a prelude to the formal Rookie Orientation Program at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on April 11.
Allmendinger, who will make his IZOD IndyCar Series debut in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 7 at Barber Motorsports Park, tested an IZOD IndyCar Series car for the third time in the past six weeks.
“Just like any test right in an (IZOD) IndyCar (Series car) now for me, it’s about getting comfortable,” he said. “It all feels like I’m a fish out of water, trying to figure out how to get around. People assume back when I raced Champ Cars I did a lot of ovals, but I really only did Milwaukee, so this is brand new for me.
“It’s a lot different (from a stock car to drive around TMS). A little track knowledge (helps), and all these mile-and-a-half tracks a little different – they have their own character – so it’s good to know but it’s still different. Obviously, me being here it’s about going to Indy and being comfortable in an IndyCar around a fast racetrack like this. There’s a lot of work to do yet.”