Twenty-One Drivers Top 2014 Barber Pole Speed During Two-Day Test
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (March 17, 2015) — Will Power, who has won twice at Barber Motorsports Park and was the Verizon P1 Award winner for the 2014 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, posted the quickest lap of the two-day Verizon IndyCar Series test of the new aerodynamic bodywork supplied by Chevrolet and Honda at the 2.38-mile, 17-turn road course.
The reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion, driving the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, had a best lap of 1 minute, 7.3118 seconds (123.010 mph) in the March 17 morning session.
That was a full second quicker than his 2014 pole-winning time on Firestone alternate tires. Scott Dixon holds the track record with a lap of 1:06.7750 in Round 1 of qualifying in 2013, also on Firestone alternate tires that offer more grip and under cooler ambient temperatures that also add track grip.
Twenty-one drivers bettered Power’s 2014 pole lap time over the four sessions. Twenty-three drivers totaled 2,832 laps in the initial full-team testing in preparation for the March 29 season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
“The aero kits produce so much more downforce and there’s a lot of grip, so the cars are faster everywhere,” Power said. “I would expect to break lap records just about everywhere.
“I think we found some good stuff as a team for St. Petersburg and when we come back to race here (April 26).”
Dixon, who has finished second or third in the five races at Barber Motorsports Park in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, recorded the quickest lap of 1:07.4805 on March 16, and bettered it in the waning minutes of March 17 (1:07.3996) to place second overall. Graham Rahal posted the quickest lap among the Honda contingent (1:07.6203) in the No. 15 Mi-Jack entry for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Stefano Coletti was quickest of the four rookies participating (1:07.5224), and third overall, in the No. 4 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet.
The high-downforce platforms, which with multiple options available can be tailored to a driver’s personal style and individual racetrack, will produce performance gains throughout the 16-race season. The radical designs also differentiate the manufacturers, who also supply the 2.2-liter, twin-turbo-charged V-6 engines.
Every team will continue development of the road/street course and short oval aero platform at two racetracks next week before reconvening March 27 for the opening of practice on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary St. Petersburg street circuit.
“As far as overall driving style we’ve been pretty pleased that the kit hasn’t greatly upset a lot of the base knowledge that we have of the car,” said 2013 St. Petersburg race winner James Hinchcliffe, driver of the No. 5 Arrow/Lucas Oil Honda for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. “You can be a bit braver in certain corners, but I don’t think I’ve had to revamp what I’ve been doing, which is nice.
“It’s not like when we went from the IR-03 to the DW12; that was a complete change in driving philosophy for me. This has been a nice progression of more grip, more downforce, more fun.
“There is still some bit to come and a lot of development to do. This car is going to get better and better through the first half of the year as we understand more and more. To see the times we’ve been doing given the warm track conditions (at Barber), it gives you a lot of confidence heading into St. Pete to see records fall.”
A speedway aero kit will be delivered to teams by April 1 and utilized for the first time in May for the Indianapolis 500.
TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT DATA Chevrolet): “I’m happy with our testing here at Barber and all the data we were able to get from multiple cars testing multiple things. We tried some things throughout today that worked and we tried some things that didn’t work, but the things that didn’t work are just as important as the ones that do. I can’t complain at all about the Chevy aero kits and how they’re performing on-track, and I’m looking forward to get back to NOLA next week and then onto the season opener in St. Pete.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chevrolet): “We spent the morning really chasing the changing track conditions today. The track was a lot hotter today compared to yesterday and we had to adjust to that with the Target car. There are so many variables with the new aero kits as well. We worked a lot on aero and tried to do as many things as we could with the tire allotment we were given here. Overall I think it was a good test for the Target team and I’m looking forward to coming back for the race here next month.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Chevrolet): “We had a really good day today with the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Chevrolet. We’re just learning so much about the new Chevy aero kits every time we get back out on the track. The downforce and drag paired with the Chevy engine package, and then what we do with the mechanical setup has been really important and we’re able to see what things work and what don’t. We put everything we got from yesterday with our data from this morning and were able to get a pretty fast lap time this afternoon and finish up there in the top 10. We’re pretty excited with where we ended the day today heading into testing next week at NOLA and then into St. Pete.”
CARLOS HUERTAS (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “Today was a pretty good day. We finished P13 and I think we were the fourth fastest Honda car this afternoon so I think we made some improvements. We need a bit more because it is so close. I think a few tenths and you drop like seven places or something. It was a good two days and I hope we will keep improving. I think that we will be able to accomplish a lot with two more days of testing even though New Orleans is a bit of a different place but we will see what happens.”
FRANCESCO DRACONE (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “The test was a challenge for the team and for me. The settings of the car were something the team hasn’t had to deal with before but we made the best of what we had. We had the new floor and the old aero kit on the car so we had very low downforce. It was good to get some laps in and learn the circuit and get to know the team and the engineers. Other than that there isn’t a lot to take away from the test.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Hartman Oil Chevrolet): “I think we got through a big list. That was the most important thing coming into this test. The aero kit was still an unknown to us as we haven’t had a lot of time with it. We needed to try a bunch of things to figure out what we liked and we got through everything pretty cleanly. We had a little incident right before lunch, but we recovered well and still managed to learn a lot. I think we’re in a pretty good position where we are at, we know what we need to do which is a comforting thought going into the season opener.”
LUCA FILIPPI (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “Today we have tried many different setups. At the end we found something that I liked very much, so I was very confident with the car and was able to push and to have some consistent laps. The position on the timing sheet isn’t great because we found the setup I liked just a little too late. We came here to learn the car, it was the first time for me with the new aero kit. I had to learn the circuit, which I have to say is a very tricky circuit. It took a while to understand everything, but now we can say we are ready for the road courses.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Mi-Jack Honda): “It’s nice to finish in the top five here, which has been a place we have struggled at before. We’ve got a little work to do for sure though, but I’m pleased with our result because a lot of the guys had a lot more tires than us at the end. They just kept running new tires and we had one shot at it and to do a 1:07.62 felt nice. It should have had a five in it but that would have been about it. I’m proud of these guys. Today our objective was to try a ton of stuff as learn as much as we could about the aero and I think they’ve done a heck of a job. We test at Sebring on Monday and Tuesday and its going to be an interesting animal with the fact that it’s going to be pretty grippy after the 12 hour race, but at the end of the day I’m just looking forward to turning some laps. It’s going to be good for the durability of these cars, to test how it shakes, rattles, where any weak points are and all of that sort of stuff. At the end of the day, we’ve got to just trying to turn laps in these things and test them and Sebring’s next up.”