Series Sebring Open Test day 3 report

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IZOD IndyCar Series press release

TARGET CHIP GANASSI RACING TEAMMATES DIXON, GANASSI LEAD THIRD DAY OF SEBRING TEST

Scott Dixon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
Scott Dixon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

SEBRING, Fla. (Thursday, March 8, 2012) - Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti topped the timesheets as IZOD IndyCar Series teams continued their Open Test at Sebring International Raceway.

Dixon, driving the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, became the first driver to break 52 seconds on the 1.67-mile short course during the test session with a lap at 51.7932 seconds in the morning session, while Franchitti set the pace in the afternoon session with a lap of 52.1401 seconds. Both drivers turned laps quicker than Helio Castroneves' best lap of 52.1413 in Group 1 set on March 6.

KV Racing Technology's Rubens Barrichello was third (52.2228) in a Chevrolet-powered car followed by the Hondas of A.J. Foyt Racing's Mike Conway (52.2230) and Takuma Sato (52.41111).

In all, 16 cars turned 1,089 laps during the eight hours available for testing. E.J. Viso had the day's only incident when he made contact with the tires in Turn 6, but his KV Racing Technology team was able to repair his car. The Open Test concludes March 9.

DAY 3 QUOTEBOOK:

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "Not too bad, the morning we didn't get to run a lot to make some changes, the car was good out the box, it was pretty quick. We just went through the test program and tried not to just go for lap time. We didn't really have the lap time that we had in the afternoon that we had in the morning, so all and all it was pretty decent. We weren't on track as much as we would like to, but I think we rectified a few of those issues. So all in all, it's Sebring, it's not anywhere we race."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "The first session was a wash out really. I think I did some out laps and the most I did was two together. It was nice to get this afternoon and see where we were—it's not bad. There are so many things we're trying to change, it's not about shooting the car for the track, it's about learning and getting data and when you change something on the car, what's the result and how does it feel. And the difference being, with the old car we pretty much knew what we were going to do."

RUBENS BARRICHELLO, NO. 8 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet: (About the communication dynamic among drivers in Formula One vs. INDYCAR): "I've always been a friend of everyone. Honestly I don't have trouble getting the habit of that because my habit was already on that side. We are all very competitive drivers. It doesn't matter the series. We are all very competitive. Having said that, there is something in Europe that it is almost like the bad guy wins. The good guy doesn't. That is what they say. I completely don't believe in that. I think you can be very competitive inside the track, but you can have a social relationship out of it. We can meet people that are so different outside and so pleasant. Inside the track they are so different. I found here in the U.S., it is a little bit more you can see that they are very competitive, but they are still pleasant. It is almost like I have a good relationship with Dario (Franchitti). I have always had it, because he can see how much I am close to Tony (Kanaan). It is almost like without talking to him I'm already closer to him, so it feels good. It feels like that is how it should be. That is perfect racing. Wins is the best, but respect for everyone. That is how it should be." (Is it going to be an open book with the data between the three drivers on your team (KV Racing Technology)? "Yes, it is open everything. Now days, if you have telemetry, that have that open data. It is impossible to keep anything from anybody. Tony (Kanaan) had a tough day on his side today because he wasn't quick. But, not his fault. There was something there that was holding him back terribly. So, we need to share the information and try to get him up to speed. Today it proved to me, it is the second time for me coming to Sebring, I don't start from zero. It feels good. I know the track. I can go fast and so on. When I get to St. Pete, everyone has some data collection in their head from where they are. I will start from zero. That is a little bit of playing catch-up. Some tracks which are brand new, but they come to you. You don't need to search. 'Oh, I like this corner. I like this one as well' and they all come to you. But some tracks, it is a little bit more difficult. So, I have to play the music as it comes." (Will you be back in the car before St. Pete?): "Yes, I hope to be driving tomorrow and I will have another couple of days at Barber (Motorsports Park, Alabama). I am looking forward to that." (How close are the manufacturers right now (Chevrolet and Honda)? "I feel it is really difficult (to tell) until we get to the St. Pete qualifying and race to know where everyone is. Everybody's hanging some card on the sleeves to just waiting to show-up. The time that Scott (Dixon) set this morning was really fast. It was out of the box. It was really, really fast. Faster than anybody around here from the past week and this week. So, they are what they are. I think that I'll be really happy to be sneaking amongst them. The Team Penske and Target Ganassi are the cars to beat."

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 Panther Racing Chevrolet): "We had a pretty good day in the National Guard Panther Racing Chevy. We had a list of stuff we had to get through, just like everybody else. Our focus coming here, especially with as gripped up as the track is, is really to get reads on what setup items and setup changes do to the car in a more general sense. We made some big changes and some small changes and we feel pretty good about what we're learning. We're just going to keep at it."

ANA BEATRIZ (No. 27 Andretti Autosport Chevrolet): "It was fun to drive the new car today. It has a lot of grip and I'm still learning about it. I would be great to have another day of testing tomorrow and have a night (to think about it) but it was a great test with Andretti Autosport. I learned a lot today and it will be a great experience to take into the future."

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): "All in all, it was a pretty good day. We missed some time with a couple of teething pains with everything being new. Considering all the time we missed early, it ended up fairly well. You always want to be better, but for the amount of new stuff that we're dealing with, from the car, to the engine to all the new people, I was encouraged by the team effort today. The way everyone worked together didn't seem like it was the first day on the job at the track for everybody." (How valuable are these two days for a team like yours?): "It's pretty huge. We couldn't have waited much longer than this. We're still going to be behind for a little bit, but that's not an excuse at this point. We have to do a good job and work as a group and try to be efficient to get up to speed as quick as we can."

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "I think it was a good day. We learned a lot. We made some big changes over lunch and in the afternoon we chased the track a little bit. It was getting better throughout the day and made progress. We have some good ideas to make ever more progress heading into tomorrow. Hopefully the thunderstorms will stay away and we'll make the most of one of the last test days before the first race."

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): "The nerve-wracking part was doing my systems check and trying to get out on a clear track and just do a simple lap and come into the pits. When I went out, there were just too many cars swarming around me, there was just too much going on. But as soon as we got in a rhythm this afternoon, I felt pretty darn comfortable to be honest. It felt pretty routine and normal. We just need to turn laps. Get laps on the car and laps under my belt to keep progressing on the set-up and everything. I think that's what we're going to be doing tomorrow. Hopefully, we don't have any issues. We'll just be stepping through set-ups and trying to work through lap times."

KATHERINE LEGGE (No. 6 Lotus-Dragon Racing Lotus): (About finally being back in an Indy car): "It was awesome to be honest. I obviously have to thank my crew because they worked all the way through the night and all the way through the day today to get me on the track. They deserve a big shout-out and thank you, because they did an awesome, awesome job because the car was fantastic. For me, it was a little bit alien getting back in an IndyCar after four or five years, and not having raced anything in more than a year now. It took me 40 laps or so just to feel comfortable again, but we did a lot of laps this afternoon and I'm very happy with the way it's progressing. We did work our way through a few things on the engine side and the chassis side, and so we're very happy with the way things are going. We are making progress.

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): "The start of the season is coming up very soon. I think we have just this test and one more before St. Petersburg and I am excited to get the new season started. There have been a lot of changes in the series. New cars, new engines, new races, new sponsors and some new faces in the driver field which all should make the new season exciting for both the fans and the drivers. One of things I am especially happy about is that GEICO is back as one of my sponsors. They are a tremendous company and have really supported me. Let's be honest, without GEICO I don't know if I would have been in the car last year. I want to thank the entire GEICO executive staff. I am proud to be associated with them."

E.J. VISO - (No. 8 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): "We are very close to the first race of the season and testing here at Sebring testing we feel is the most similar track to the street circuit in St. Petersburg. So far it has been good. We had a few difficulties which we addressed very quickly and went over some small issues that were important to understand today. Tomorrow, we will work through a very ambitious development plan for this car, which I am excited to be a part of."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda): "We had a small issue this morning and also at the end of the day when we had a failure of a component but overall it was good. We evaluated quite a few different setups and collected good data so we are able to understand the car more and more. I look forward to continuing to do some more work tomorrow."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "It was a tough—it was a good day, but a tough day. We had a lot to get done, and we got some of it, but still a lot of work to be done. Our car is pretty quick, I think we're pretty competitive. We need to figure out a few more things. The car is a little bit more of a handful than last time we tested here, so we still have a few things to figure out. But I feel pretty good going into St. Pete leaving here I think that everything's looking up, so looking forward to it."

DAY 3 NOTEBOOK:

Mouser Electronics will be the primary sponsor on the No. 11 KV Racing Technology car driven by Tony Kanaan for four IZOD IndyCar Series races at Long Beach, Texas, Sonoma and China and the co-primary sponsor with GEICO for the Indianapolis 500.

Mouser Electronics is a top design engineering resource and global distributor for semiconductors and electronic components.

"Last year, Mouser attached its name to the high-speed, high-tech world of INDYCAR as an innovative way to promote our supplier partners and gain broad exposure as we continue to expand our operations worldwide," said Mouser VP of strategic marketing Larry Johannes. "Since every advanced, sophisticated component that's built to go inside an IndyCar is about delivering a speed and performance edge on the track, INDYCAR was a natural fit.

"The decision to sponsor Tony Kanaan was also an easy one for Mouser because of his undeniable skill behind the wheel and his experience as a brand ambassador of motorsports. At Mouser, we're constantly communicating how using the most advanced technology for design delivers a speed-to-market advantage. INDYCAR provides us the perfect vehicle to build top-of-mind awareness for Mouser and our valued supplier and manufacturer rep partnerships."

Kanaan, who placed fifth in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship in 2011, returns to KV Racing Technology for his second season.

"There's no better feeling than having a solid company behind you -- the kind of excitement for motorsports we share with Mouser makes it a great experience," Kanaan said. "When Jimmy (KVRT co-owner Jimmy Vasser) and I were taking a tour of their facilities and saw all the products that they potentially supply to the sport of IndyCar, we were extremely impressed."

*

Simon Pagenaud will be a very busy driver between now and the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The after testing his car at Sebring International Raceway on March 5-6, the Schmidt/Hamilton Motorsports traveled to France on March 7, where he'll compete this weekend in the Rallye De La Vienna near his hometown of Poitiers, France.

On March 13, he'll fly back to Florida to compete in the 60th anniversary Sebring 12 Hours on March 18-19. The IZOD IndyCar Series season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is March 25.

"I'm going to be in race car basically all the way up to St. Pete, and for me, that's actually good," Pagenaud said. "The more you do it, the more natural it is. When I get to St. Pete, I'm going to be warmed up compared to the others guys. I think it's a big advantage, especially being in different race cars.

"If you only drive one kind of car, you know the car is going to brake here and accelerate there. But that's exactly what I'm not trying to do. I'm trying to adapt to a situation. If I think the car should brake later, it should brake later and I'll set it up for that. So being able to go from one car to another really opens up my mind that way."

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Series INDYCAR
Tags baricello, chevrolet, dixon, franchitti, honda