Surfers Paradise, Australia (Friday, Oct. 24, 2008)- Of all the IndyCar drivers competing in the Nikon Indy 300 this weekend in Australia, Vision Racing drivers Ed Carpenter and A.J. Foyt IV are probably the ones that have the most to gain. In...
Surfers Paradise, Australia (Friday, Oct. 24, 2008)- Of all the IndyCar drivers competing in the Nikon Indy 300 this weekend in Australia, Vision Racing drivers Ed Carpenter and A.J. Foyt IV are probably the ones that have the most to gain. In stark contrast to more than half the field, neither has ever driven on the streets of Surfers Paradise and both probably have the least number of street or road courses under their belts of any driver competing in this weekend's race Down Under, but the experience will certainly be valuable to the team as a whole.
The first practice session was described as "an eye-opening experience" by the driver of the #20 Menards sponsored car, but by the end of the day Ed Carpenter felt confident about the direction and progress both he and the team were making. After 37 laps, Carpenter wrapped up the day without putting together the clean lap he would have liked and ended up 23rd on the scoring charts with a time of 1 min 41.4751 seconds (99.157 mph).
The second session might have ended on a more positive note had A.J. Foyt IV not damaged two corners of his #2 Lilly sponsored machine in the final minutes while putting in a strong lap, but the good news was he compared favorably amongst the quickest of the drivers that had never driven the Australian street course before. Foyt accumulated 45 laps of practice on Friday, the most of any driver, and ended the day in 16th spot with a best lap time of 1 min 39.0920 seconds (99.157 mph).
The Team Australia driver Will Power was quickest overall with a best lap of 1 minute, 34.8084 seconds (106.130 mph) on the 2.795-mile, 12-turn circuit. Team Penske's Helio Castroneves was second quick (1:36.1609; 104.637 mph) and Dario Franchitti, making his debut in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, was third (1:36.1712; 104.626).
Ed Carpenter (on his first impression of the street course at Surfers): "The first time out I don't think I liked any of the track at all. Even though we had walked it and seen it on TV, it's pretty eye opening that first time you get out there. The second session things started feeling a whole lot better and there was more time in the car. I kept catching yellows so I didn't really get a chance to put a good run together in that session but I'm feeling a lot more confident at the end of the day. It's fun and I'll definitely be learning on every lap this weekend. It is by far the hardest street course I have ever run and it's a good challenge."
A.J Foyt IV (on his first impression of the street course at Surfers): "I think it is a really fun course, really challenging, and really fast. I was really enjoying it until the end of the second practice when I went off. I feel like we are doing pretty good when you compare us with the group of guys that have never raced here before. I'm excited about the progress the team was making. I feel bad about damaging the car but we have to get back out there and try to pick up even more. (about the track) Each chicane is really different but the big chicane in the back is really the most challenging, and there are some sharp corners. But they are all fun if you get them just right. The course is really cool."
MORE Vision Racing NOTES:
OFF AND ON THE BEATEN PATH: Ed Carpenter and A.J Foyt IV traded in their Vision Racing Honda-powered Dallaras for some AustralianV8 off road buggies on Wednesday putting their dirt track skills to the test for more than an hour at the Off Road Rush track at Alberton, north of the Gold Coast. Carpenter fell back on his experience racing midgets and sprint cars to handle the four-liter V8-powered buggies, but also took in some hair-raising laps as a passenger when track owner Chris Western took the wheel and got some big air over a two-metre jump which is the highlight of the 1.3km circuit. "It's fun," Carpenter said. "Any time you take a race car driver out and let them drive, they get pretty excited. I've never gone and tested another car like this before a race, like this, but it's a good experience."
TAKING THE VISION TO AUSTRALIA: Vision Racing hopes to have the "Midas Touch" for its first venture to the Gold Coast of Australia as the IndyCar Series makes its debut there in a non-points race on the streets of Surfers Paradise. Team drivers Ed Carpenter and A.J. Foyt IV will both make their first attempt Down Under as well. Also making the trip will be team road-course consultant, Bryan Herta, who will continue his role behind pit wall with advising the team and drivers on their road racing approach.
A NOT-TOO EXTREME MAKE-OVER: The Vision Racing cars will sport a new paint scheme for the race Down Under. The two team entries will both feature a predominantly grey scheme with some yellow and red accents for the Nikon Indy 300. The paint scheme change is not so much a fashion statement as one of convenience, as the team will be able to bring along just one back-up car to the Gold Coast street event and with a uniform scheme, the cars' body work parts will be more aesthetically interchangeable.
ON ROAD/STREET COURSES: The team's best finishes on a road or street course is fourth scored by Paul Tracy this season at Edmonton. Prior to that a pair of sixth place drives by Tomas Scheckter on the streets of St. Petersburg last year and by Ed Carpenter in 2006 at Watkins Glen International remained the team's best road and street drives. Overall the team's highest finishes on any track are third place drives by Scheckter in 2006 at the Milwaukee Mile (oval) and by A.J. Foyt IV last year at Kentucky Speedway (oval).
About the Nikon Indy 300: The 60 lap Nikon Indy 300 will air live on Saturday, Oct. 25 at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN Classic, as well as IMS Radio Network, XM IndyCar Series Racing Channel 145, XM Sports Nation Channel 144 and on the web at www.IndyCar.com. The race will re-air on Sunday, Oct. 26 at 11 p.m. on ESPN2.