OFFICIALS KEY ON TIRES, SETUP DURING TUESDAY'S NEW GENERATION SILVER CROWN CAR TEST INDIANAPOLIS -- USAC and Riley Technologies utilized two new generation Silver Crown cars and three drivers in a Hoosier Tire test Tuesday at Kansas Speedway in...
OFFICIALS KEY ON TIRES, SETUP DURING TUESDAY'S NEW GENERATION SILVER CROWN CAR TEST
INDIANAPOLIS -- USAC and Riley Technologies utilized two new generation Silver Crown cars and three drivers in a Hoosier Tire test Tuesday at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., further finding success with the machines in addition to closing in on a final compound for the 2006 season.
Primary test drivers Jason McCord of Anderson, Ind. and Jay Drake of Val Verde, Calif. logged more than 150 laps on the Silver Crown car's first unofficial visit to the 1.5-mile superspeedway.
Drake, who has tested Riley's prototype earlier this year at Phoenix International Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway, circled the most laps (120) of the three drivers. The defending USAC Valvoline National Sprint Car Series champion was assigned again to the prototype, which was brought specifically for tire testing.
Facing track temperatures in excess of 125 degrees, USAC and Hoosier Tire officials used several separate and distinctive compounds, and are expected soon to announce their choice of tire for next season.
Drake and other officials also used the test to hone in on setups, making chassis and other component changes throughout the day. With those opportunities, Drake was content with the experience, and remained positive with the car's direction.
"I think we made big gains certainly from the last time we tested, as well as from the beginning of the day until the end of the day," Drake said. "I feel the car is getting closer to being a good racecar for that package.
"I'd certainly like to test this car again, and I'm really looking forward to the day when I can race it, especially at Kansas."
McCord, whose testing duties have extended to last fall's initial tests at Kentucky Speedway, made appearances Tuesday in both the prototype and Riley' s second machine, released last month at Indianapolis Raceway Park. He piloted 39 total laps (29 in the second car), specifically for additional input and a shakedown of the newer car, which made its first on-track laps.
The test, more than anything, McCord said, gave him the ability to register laps at Kansas, a track at which he had never recorded laps. He looks forward to running there again soon.
"This place is awesome," McCord said. "It's going to be fun and exciting in these new cars. It's fast, but the cars are very stable. Each lap we're getting better and better."
McCord and Drake were joined by Chilean Pablo Donoso, who was on hand to witness the tests and garner laps. In his first season with Star Mazda, Donoso is sixth in points with three podium finishes -- including a victory at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. -- and three poles. He earlier this season made his first oval start at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colo. Tuesday's test was only Donoso's second time on an oval.
The 20-year-old hailing from Santiago, Chile is exploring options for his career, and could go Silver Crown pavement racing as early as 2006. While there are no confirmed deals, Donoso was happy simply with track time. He logged 19 laps in Riley's second car, the first open-wheel, front engine car he's driven.
"These cars are very different to what I am used to, but I enjoyed my time on the track today and can't wait to get back in one," Donoso said. "The formula cars I am used to have a lot of downforce, but these don't. But I'm willing to learn and look forward to driving these cars."
The test for the Silver Crown cars was the first since March at Homestead, when McCord and Drake shared track time in the prototype. Lap times were comparable, as drivers topped the charts Tuesday in the low 33-second range. Lap speeds reached as high as 163 mph.
USAC Associate Director of Competition Owen Snyder III said Tuesday's test was one of the most productive of the car's testing opportunities.
"It was a good test because it took place in adverse conditions with high track temperatures, and the tires held up well," Snyder said. "We learned a lot about what it'll take to run at Kansas. Hoosier Tire gave us several options, each with different handling characteristics. We're starting to hone in on consistent race tires."
Additional news about USAC's future at Kansas Speedway, as well as the decision on tire compounds, are expected to be released soon.