LONG POND, Pa. (July 4, 2013) - On Independence Day, IZOD IndyCar Series drivers and teams provided plenty of fireworks at Pocono Raceway with a glimpse of what's in store for the Pocono INDYCAR 400 Fueled by Sunoco on July 7.
All 24 cars that participated in the one-day Open Test posted lap times better than the track record of 42.510 seconds (211.715 mph) set by Emerson Fittipaldi on Aug. 19, 1989. Marco Andretti of nearby Nazareth, Pa., topped the speed chart with a lap of 220.963 mph (40.7308 seconds) in the No. 25 RC Cola car for Andretti Autosport.
"I think this just became my favorite racetrack," said Andretti, who recorded his best lap on a qualifying simulation. "I have to give credit to INDYCAR. They did a great job with the aero (package) and also Firestone with the tire choice. I think it will produce good racing because it's going to put guys on the opposite ends of the downforce level, which is the risk you run."
IZOD IndyCar Series championship points leader Helio Castroneves (219.123 mph) was third in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske car, and Ed Carpenter was fourth (218.788 mph) in the No. 20 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka car. Reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport was fifth (218.293 mph) in the No. 1 DHL car.
Top to bottom, the field was separated by 1.1 seconds.
Open Test Day Notes:
Rahal seeking second victory for family at Pocono
Graham Rahal was seven months old when his father, Bobby, won the Quaker State 500 at Pocono Raceway on Aug. 21, 1988, providing Truesports its final Indy car victory.
This weekend, the second-generation IndyCar driver seeks to claim the family's second victory at Pocono in the No. 15 Midas/Big O Tires car for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
Bob Rahal made eight starts on the 2.5-mile tri-oval from 1982-89 - the final Indy car race at Pocono until this weekend. His best start was second in 1984 and he qualified in the first two rows in six of his eight events.
It also was the lone Indy car win for a car powered by the Judd engine.
"(In '88) to be honest, we weren't the fastest although we qualified well (third)," said Rahal, who earned a total of six top-five finishes. "The Chevys were much more powerful than the Judd was at the time, but it was a battle of attrition and in the end Al (Unser) Sr. and I had a fight. In the end we were the last ones standing so to speak. What made that race even more special was that earlier in the week we had broken ground on my first automobile dealership in Mechanicsburg, Pa., that started the Automotive Group we've got going today."
Mann gets first laps at Pocono
Pippa Mann returns to the IZOD IndyCar Series behind the wheel of the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda in the Pocono IndyCar 400 Fueled by Sunoco. Mann previously raced for the team at Indianapolis and Texas.
"The goal was to find a way for me to get in the car, and Dale worked tirelessly with us to make this race weekend happen. I'm incredibly grateful to him for the opportunity to get back in the No. 18 car, and I'm looking forward to carrying the Cyclops Gear colors again."
Zoeller to serve as Grand Marshal
Golfing great Fuzzy Zoeller will serve as the grand marshal for the Pocono INDYCAR 400 Fueled by Sunoco at Pocono Raceway on July 7.
Zoeller, a 10-time winner on the PGA Tour, became the third golfer in history to win the Masters in his first attempt in 1979. He also won the 1984 U.S. Open. While competing on the Championship Tour, he created his own-branded vodka company in 2009. Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka currently sponsors the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet and the Triple Crown award in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Additionally, Fuzzy's was announced as "Official Vodka of Pocono Raceway" this year.
Additionally, Christian Porter, a Pennsylvania native who recently appeared on "The Voice" as part of Blake Shelton's team will sing the National Anthem prior to the 400-mile IZOD IndyCar Series race.
Open Test Quotes:
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 25 RC Cola Chevrolet): "I think this just became my favorite race track. It's so much fun. I mean, it's so different every lap and that's the fun about it. You don't know what to expect. You have to really be on the tools end-to-end and chase the car. I think it's going to produce a heck of a race. I was able to make some passes. I'm really pleased with the car and I can keep my foot in it and put up a big time so that helps as well. (About running as a team during the afternoon): "We run in a line because that simulates a race and that's what we're going to do on Sunday. We do have that luxury because we have a lot of cars. We don't do it to intimidate. We do it to learn. My teammates are going to be strong Sunday. I know that." (Will this race be similar to Indy): "I've made passes going into every corner today. It's going to be a heck of a race for the fans. It's going to be an awesome show. Again, credit to INDYCAR with the aero choice and Firestone with the tire choice. I think it's going to produce an awesome race, so I think there's going to be a lot of passing." (Who were you passing?): "The car's been good today. We could roll of Saturday and it could be a totally different ballgame, but today, I was able to pass whoever was in front of me."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Sunoco "Turbo" KVRT-SH Racing Chevrolet): "We did test here last week so we came back with a solid setup already. We worked on race (set up) a lot. I'm happy with the car so we'll see. We have a day off tomorrow which is very unusual for a race weekend for us. I'm happy. It's going to be a close race. I think everybody is running pretty close together so we'll see. (On what he learned at last week's test): Of course, we tried a bunch of things last week. We used last week's test for the things I call the big things. Things that will take a long time to change. I can't get into much detail but they're changes in the car that will take a couple hours sometimes for you to figure out. And we had a list of three of those that I went through during that day and then we went back to the shop to evaluate those and chose the best that we thought when we came back. It was definitely helpful. The biggest thing I would say for me is it took me, you know it's funny I have been in America for so long now and racing in INDYCAR for 14 years, you figured you have learned every single track and you've been to every single track. And all of the sudden we came to a track that I hadn't raced yet. It took me a little while to learn the track. They don't call it the tricky tri-oval for nothing. I got here, I drove my rental car around and said 'Eh, it's not that bad.' And then I got in my Indy car and I'm like 'OK.' So it took me a few laps to get the confidence and to learn a lit bit about this track."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): "We were pretty decent this morning, but we tried some things after lunch that didn't work as well. So we went back to other settings and the car was better. I wasn't too happy with changes but the ECR/Fuzzy's team did a good job to get us back in line. We ended up finishing strong. I would have liked to have gotten in a little traffic driving today. Many guys were getting in group running and we had to get the car back the way I liked it. I do think we learned a lot today. I think we can be in the mix but there are some very fast cars out there. Like all season long, the competition is tough. Pocono is definitely like Indianapolis in that the conditions really change a lot. Sometimes the heat or wind can affect the car. You don't have to change much to give you a different feel. We are trying to figure out how the place changes. We are trying to adapt to the changes quicker too. And those things come with the new track for us and the new racing surface."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "Overall, I thought it was good day of testing. We focused on improving the Verizon Chevy and at the end of the day we felt good about what we got accomplished. I'm really looking for a good result this weekend. We've run well on the ovals this year and it would be great to come out of Pocono with a solid finish and some good points before we shift back to the road and street circuits. It was a good job overall by the Verizon team today and now we'll turn our attention to Saturday and get ready for practice and qualifying."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet): "The Panther crew has done a good job and we've had a productive couple days here in the National Guard Chevy. The car is feeling really good and very consistent as we go through a run. It's solid all the way around the track and seems to get better as the fuel load burns off. Obviously you never want to start last, but I'm thankful Panther gave me the opportunity to run here this weekend and the car is good enough that we'll be OK. I think the Fourth of July livery looks really sharp too, and it's an honor to represent the National Guard on such an important holiday weekend."