IRL: A closed test at IMS

The Indy Racing League has decreed 3-liter engines for its IndyCar Series cars starting after the checkered flags fly at Twin Ring Motegi on April 17th. Today the League offered a day of testing to its engine makers, Chevrolet, Honda and ...

The Indy Racing League has decreed 3-liter engines for its IndyCar Series cars starting after the checkered flags fly at Twin Ring Motegi on April 17th. Today the League offered a day of testing to its engine makers, Chevrolet, Honda and Toyota.

"I hope we have good weather," said Brian Barnhart just a few days ago. The IRL's senior vice president of racing operations realized, "As much work as we need to do," the last thing the League needed was cries from the skies. And meddling journalists, assigning yellow-shirts to shoo everyone in grandstands fronting the Speedway Museum.

Many fans came and went during the bright, sunny, windy and cool Spring outing, toting scanners, binoculars, cameras and, um, beer. Kids played near the fences as cars wailed by, different acoustics of the 3-liter Toyota engine being most pronounced.

Toyota's large contingent included the Marlboro Team Penske Dallaras of Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr., Team Target's Panoz G Force duo of Scott Dixon and Darren Manning, Scott Sharp in the #39 Dallara dedicated to Sarah Fisher at Indianapolis and A.J. Foyt IV in the Conseco Dallara.

Honda brought Dan Wheldon and Bryan Herta from Andretti Green Racing using Dallara chassis, Team Rahal's Buddy Rice and Greg Ray from Access Motorsports in Panoz G Force packages. Chevrolet (and Dallara) were represented by Tomas Scheckter of Pennzoil Panther and Red Bull Cheever Racing's Alex Barron.

The day began with stabs at the 2.5-mile historic flat oval, as drivers were in and out of the pits, rarely venturing more than five or six laps at a time as they tried to optimize chassis to engines to environment on a blustery 50-degree morning.

There were a few cautions for track inspection and debris pick-up as several drivers experienced cut tires. Speeds during this cycle ranged from the low 200mph to around 214-5mph. Foyt didn't join the session until about half an hour before the 12:30PM lunch break, just to get a feel for the car.

The morning session ended with a tow-in for Scheckter at the pit entry, after his Panther car was among the first to try out some long runs. There was debris on the back straight as well that led to an abrupt end to the first session.

Following a 45-minute break for the safety teams to have a bite and catch their breath, it was back to the Brickyard track for IndyCar Series teams.

Barron was the first to rip off a long run of more than ten laps, but he pitted when safety reported his brakes smelling hot. The Californian at that time noted a sticky throttle but a lot of grip - at the start of his run, at least. Barron's rear brakes were about 60 degrees hotter than his fronts once the mechanics had a look

Greg Ray was in and out of the pits in the early going after reporting both vibration and vertical movement to his car. The crew made a ride height adjustment, then appeared to change it back.

Anthony Foyt spent time on the track and listened to coaching from his grandfather. At one point Super Tex could be heard complimenting the kid for being smoother into Turn 3.

Teams removed and re-installed wicker bills during the day-long affair, and the new stepped air boxes were still in place, rather than the graduated engine covers most IRL fans are accustomed to seeing. Barnhart and his crew are looking to make the aerodynamic configuration call after all data from today's flog is complete.

Soon many cars appeared on track to run together, with Herta, Dixon, Rice, Hornish Jr., Manning, Wheldon, Foyt, Castroneves all working their way around. Sharp, in teammate Fisher's Indy-dedicated Dallara posted a few long runs mid-afternoon.

Around 4PM, the Penske boys starting ripping off 217mph laps, as, reportedly did Dixon, but that was extent of the excitement. In fact, the Red Bull Cheever team's transporter departed IMS by 4:30 in the afternoon.

Doug Boles, one of Pennzoil Panther's principals enjoyed visiting with friends in the back-forty grandstand and explained the team's program: "We put 400 miles on the car in 50-lap increments. I think we ran about 212mph," but that wasn't the point of the exercise.

Testing lasted until 5PM and then all principals sped from the track, ready for the weekend.

When more information becomes available, we'll pass it along.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Darren Manning , Sarah Fisher , Greg Ray , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , A.J. Foyt IV , Scott Dixon , Bryan Herta , Alex Barron , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Brian Barnhart , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske