RLR/Andersen Racing Tests at Homestead and Sebring
FAIRFIELD, N.J., Oct. 31 - While the rest of the nation thinks about football, the World Series and Halloween, Andersen Racing is hard at work preparing for the 2008 Indy Pro Series, Star Mazda and F2000 seasons. In the last two weeks the team's Indy Pro Series cars were in action at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla., and Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla., in the team's continuous quest for more speed.
The team, which fields entries in the Indy Pro Series under the RLR/Andersen Racing name due to its association with Rahal Letterman Racing, conducted two-day tests at both facilities. Andrew Prendeville, driver of the Best Friends Animal Society No. 5, continued to work on various set-ups on Homestead's oval and Sebring's road course.
"It was probably one of the best testing programs I've ever had," Prendeville said. "We had four solid days of testing. We were able to learn some things about the car that we didn't have time to work on during the season. We had set plans for what we wanted to get accomplished during the tests, and we got through our list. It was very effective."
"Based on the test times, we are very optimistic about the season opener," added team co-owner Dan Andersen. The 2008 Indy Pro Series is slated to begin on Saturday, March 29 at Homestead.
Brad Jaeger, who was part of Andersen Racing's Star Mazda squad in 2006, tested an Indy Pro Series car one day at both tracks. He competed in the Indy Pro Series with another team this year.
"The test went really well at both Homestead and Sebring," Jaeger said. "It was really interesting to see the differences between the car I drove all year long and the car I drove at these two test days. Most people think the cars are all the same because it's a spec series, but they can feel totally different depending on the set-up. It's hard to describe the differences, but each set-up has its strengths and weaknesses. I thought we made some good advancements to the car's set-up over the course of the tests. I enjoyed working with the RLR/Andersen Indy Pro Series team, and it was a great learning experience for me."
Two other drivers got their first taste of wheeling an Indy Pro Series car during the test at Sebring.
Jonathan Goring and Jonny Baker, Andersen Racing's two full-time Star Mazda drivers this year, both received Indy Pro Series tests as part of the team's incentive program. By competing in all three series Andersen Racing is one of the few Indy Pro Series, Star Mazda and F2000 teams that is able to reward its full-season drivers with a test at the next-highest level at year's end. It's the only team that is currently making that offer for all three of those particular support series. It strives to offer rising stars one central home and the very best training available in order to propel them into open-wheel racing's major leagues.
Both Goring and Baker were thrilled with the chance to test cars that compete in the official development series of IndyCar.
"I drove an Atlantic car once before so I had something to compare it to; the Indy Pro Series car was a bit heavier," said Goring, who did about 40 laps at Sebring. "It is a great car. I worked with all the RLR/Andersen Racing Indy Pro Series engineers and mechanics. We went over the data and discussed the set-up, and made progress every time we went out. I want to thank Dan very much for the opportunity."
"I was testing an Indy Pro Series car for the first time at Sebring," Baker said. "Dan Andersen very kindly offered me half a day in the car as an end-of-season present, if you like! It was very generous and I am most grateful to Dan, as he has looked after me all year.
"The car was the quickest I have ever driven, but I didn't feel overwhelmed by it at all," Baker added. " The only thing I struggled with was the downshifting. If I had more time in the car this wouldn't be a problem. However, I know where I want to be next year, which is in Star Mazda with Andersen Racing again, and I approached this test as a fantastic learning experience that would be great fun. It was definitely both!"
"We were delighted to be able to test these talented young drivers, and based on their times, we feel they are ready to compete in the Indy Pro Series if they so choose," Andersen said. "They demonstrated their ability to adapt quickly to a much higher horsepower race car. When they do make the jump to the Indy Pro Series, they will be formidable."