21 drivers continue testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway Drivers searching for rides Milestone birthday for Yacaman
(Note: Final speeds and additional notes and quotes will be posted at indycar.com/media at the conclusion of tonight’s session)
1. 21 drivers continue testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway: IndyCar Series drivers and teams continued preparations for the 2009 season with a second night of testing on the 1.5-mile, variably banked oval at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Twenty-one drivers were on track, one more than on Feb. 24, due to the addition of Dan Wheldon, who missed the first night of testing to attend a National Guard Foundation banquet in Washington, D.C.
At the 6:15 p.m. dinner break, Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe topped the speed chart with a best lap of 212.161 mph followed by reigning series champion Scott Dixon at 211.159.
Testing continues through 10 p.m. EST.
2. Drivers searching for rides: Several veteran IndyCar Series drivers attended the Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway to continue meeting with team principals in the hopes of securing a ride before the first race of the season on April 5.
Among those walking the paddock were race winners Ryan Hunter-Reay and Tomas Scheckter, as well as Bruno Junqueira, Oriol Servia and Jeff Simmons.
“It’s tough for the drivers, and it’s tough for the teams,” Servia said. “I’d say the two best transition teams last year had to change their alignment, so it just shows how it is. It makes you wonder what we have to do. I’m here because I want to do this. I haven’t looked at any other series, because this is what I believe, and I believe in the product.
“Everybody has the perfect excuse right now with the (financial) crisis. It’s tough, but I still think there is room for open wheel even with the crisis. People still want to see us racing. We provide a good show, and I’m a good driver. That’s why I keep my hopes up that something good will happen.
“There’s a new project that’s really close to getting the green light, but every day there seems to be a little issue that it hasn’t happened yet. There are a couple other teams that as soon as they get something ready I’ll get the phone call, but it’s just tough.”
3. Milestone birthday for Yacaman: Gustavo Yacamán has been waiting for Feb. 25, 2009, since he signed with Sam Schmidt Motorsports late last year.
Yacamán turned 18 on Feb. 25, clearing the way for him to get behind the wheel of a Firestone Indy Lights car for the first time in a private test at the Homestead-Miami Speedway on Feb. 26.
"I'm really looking forward to running," he said. "I've spent two days in the spotters' booth watching everyone run in traffic, and I've learned a lot without even being in the car. It's going to seem like it's not even my first day in the car with all that I've learned. I hope it's going to be a pretty amazing experience and that I can do a good job."
Yacamán has been at the track since Feb. 23 watching teammate Ana Beatriz and an assortment of others turning laps on the track. He's been a part of the debriefing sessions and such, but watching has been a test of patience for him.
"It was valuable time watching my teammate Ana Beatriz and everyone else because I can see the lines they were driving, how they heated up their tires, etcetera. I really learned a lot."
Besides not being able to drive, Yacamán has had to be patient on other fronts as well.
"I don't even have a credential yet. I have to be 18 for that too," he said.
His patience will be rewarded on Feb. 26 after everyone else has headed home when he runs his first laps. He'll spend the next few weeks on an intense testing program to catch up with his competitors and looks to be on the same foot as everyone else when the series kicks off its season on the streets of St. Petersburg on April 3.
"More than my birthday, I'm celebrating my official entry into Firestone Indy Lights," he said.
The 2009 IndyCar Series season opens April 5 with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. The race will be telecast live at 2 p.m. (EDT) by VERSUS. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season begins with a doubleheader race weekend April 4-5 at St. Petersburg.