Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. Mutoh gets to know AGR teammates at test
2. Briscoe gets extended time in car
3. Ganassi, Rahal teams help evaluate potential change at Infineon Raceway
1. Mutoh gets to know AGR teammates at test: Hideki Mutoh's first test with Andretti Green Racing was more than just gaining seat time in an IndyCar Series machine.
The 2008 Bombardier Learjet Rookie of the Year candidate spent the lunch break at Homestead-Miami Speedway chatting up nearly every Andretti Green Racing team member in sight. Mutoh didn't want to miss an opportunity to strike up relationships.
"It's really exciting, and I'm really pleased to join with this team," Mutoh said. "People are very kind and it will take time to get used to everything. That will come. I'm very comfortable in the car. I'm following the program."
The test was Mutoh's first extended experience with team manager Kyle Moyer and crew members since he joined AGR last month.
Mutoh, the Indy Pro Series championship runner-up who made his IndyCar Series debut in the season finale at Chicagoland Speedway in September, will drive the No. 27 Honda-powered Dallara, which was driven by IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 champion Dario Franchitti last season.
"Today is all about a little bit more of getting to know you," team co-owner Kim Green said. "I'm impressed with his first morning in the Indy car. He can give a little bit of thanks to Marco Andretti, who ran his car (Dec. 5) and gave it a good baseline setup to work with. I'm quite pleased with what I'm hearing on the radio about his feedback and feel.
"It didn't take him too long to get up to speed, though we're not really looking at lap times. It's all about learn the team, learn the communications, work with the group and have a learning day."
2. Briscoe gets extended time in car: Ryan Briscoe, who joined Team Penske a few weeks ago, received his first on-track testing time at Homestead-Miami Soeedway. Briscoe tested the No. 6 Honda-powered Dallara on Dec. 5 and in the morning session Dec. 6 before handing it over the Helio Castroneves.
"It's great to be out here working with the engineers and mechanics, and it's great to be in a Team Penske racing suit and officially on board," said Briscoe, who this past season competed for Penske Racing's American Le Mans Series team. "I loved being out here at Homestead. It was a bit about me getting up to speed and feeling comfortable out there.
"We were doing a lot of setup changes for my benefit and the team's benefit until we get to know each other better and what I want from the car. So it's been a great first step toward having a better handle on everything."
Earlier in the week, Briscoe was in London to accept the Bruce McLaren Trophy from the British Racing Drivers' Club. The award recognizes the most meritorious performance by a Commonwealth driver during the year. Briscoe, 26, finished fifth in the 91st Indianapolis 500 and was rookie of the year in ALMS.
"It was an honor and surprise," Briscoe said. "It was a real nice event."
McLaren, a New Zealander, first brought his car to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1969 for Formula One veteran and fellow Kiwi Denis Hulme. Peter Revson won the pole with a McLaren in 1971, and Mark Donohue scored the car's first victory in 1972 (as a Roger Penske entry). Johnny Rutherford won the first of his three Indianapolis 500s in a McLaren.
3. Ganassi, Rahal teams help evaluate potential change at Infineon Raceway: IndyCar Series drivers Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon and Ryan Hunter-Reay helped IndyCar Series officials evaluate a slight modification to the 12-turn, 2.26-mile road course during a test on Dec. 7.
Brian Barnhart, president of the competition and operations divisions of the Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body of the IndyCar Series, requested the course alteration in Turns 6 and 7 in an effort to potentially create a corner conducive to more passing.
"About halfway down the drag strip we go to the left and then do the loop around, which is our Turn 7, and head back for the Esses," Barnhart said. "I'd like to have our drivers try staying on the drag strip where it stays straight all the way down and then take the longer loop, which (the track has) listed as 7a, and then head back to the Esses. Hopefully, getting feedback from our drivers, what I'd like to see is if by staying straight we create a harder braking area and thus a better passing zone going into Turn 7."
The 2008 IndyCar Series season begins under the lights with the SpeedJam Indy 300 on March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 16-race schedule, one of the most diverse in all of motorsports, features races on 11 ovals, three permanent road courses and two temporary street circuits, all broadcast worldwide through a comprehensive, long-term agreement with ABC Sports/ ESPN. The 2008 Indy Pro Series season also begins on March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 16-race schedule, which features eight ovals and four road/street course doubleheader weekends, will be televised by ESPN2.