DIXON LEADS INDYCAR SERIES OPEN TEST
Reigning IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon paced the first day of an IndyCar Series Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park. Dixon recorded a best lap of 1 minute, 10.5005 seconds, 117.446 mph, on the 15-turn, 2.38-mile circuit.
Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing rookie Robert Doornbos was second with a lap of 1:10.6341 while Andretti Green Racing’s Tony Kanaan was third (1:10.66.21). Dixon’s Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Dario Franchitti, was fourth and Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe was fifth.
The 16 drivers participating in the test combined to complete 1,085 laps with 10 within 0.4645 of a second of Dixon’s quickest lap.
The test concludes March 23 with a session from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (CT). The test is the final opportunity for teams to prepare for the season opener April 5 at St. Petersburg, Fla.
Results Sunday from the IndyCar Series Open Test:
1. #9 Scott Dixon 1:10.5005
2. #06 Robert Doornbos 1:10.6341
3. #11 Tony Kanaan 1:10.6621
4. #10 Dario Franchitti 1:10.6630
5. #6 Ryan Briscoe 1:10.6937
6. #3 Will Power 1:10.7772
7. #02 Graham Rahal 1:10.7795
8. #26 Marco Andretti 1:10.8921
9. #4 Dan Wheldon 1:10.8921
10. #18 Justin Wilson 1:10.9079
11. #27 Hideki Mutoh 1:10.9650
12. #5 Mario Moraes 1:11.1491
13. #12 Raphael Matos 1:11.4496
14. #7 Danica Patrick 1:11.4640
15. #24 Mike Conway 1:11.8791
16. #20 Ed Carpenter 1:12.4355
Track officials announced that 10,300 fans attended today’s Open Test. Admission was $10 for adults and free for children 15 and under.
Andretti Green Racing drivers Marco Andretti and Danica Patrick met with the media during the lunch break.
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Andretti Green Racing): (About possibly racing at Barber in the future) “I think it would be good. Look at the amount of fans we have here just for a test. As far as driving, I enjoy the place. We might have to sit down and try and develop some passing zones, maybe Turn 5. It would definitely be a tough place to pass. It’s definitely a fun track. There’s a lot of fast corners.” (About which tracks on the schedule Barber compares to) “It’s pretty unique. I think the closest would be Sonoma or Watkins Glen. Watkins has the longer corners. Sonoma has the compression and the ups and downs. Turn 1 you could kind of compare to Mid-Ohio.”
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Andretti Green Racing): (About possibly racing at Barber in the future) “I think the first concern that always comes up when you’re looking at a track for a race event is safety. There are a lot of guard rails around here. I think that would be another thing to look at is just the actual layout of the track and the offs, because they’re inevitable and you have to see what you’re headed into. That would be the first thing. The fans are obviously coming out, so I don’t doubt that the promoters could bring a bunch out for the race.” (About which tracks on the schedule Barber compares to) “I think any of our road courses not our street courses. They all have a lot of hills and compressions and elevation changes.”
Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford, the driver of the Honda Accord safety car at IndyCar Series events, took a private tour of the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum with George Barber, a former racer who founded the museum in 1994 and opened Barber Motorsports Park in 2003.
The two swapped stories from various eras as they strolled through the 80,000 square feet over five floors. The museum showcases more than 1,200 motorcycles and 60 cars – mostly Lotuses.
JOHNNY RUTHERFORD: “This facility is incredible. To see what Mr. Barber has done here to the 500 or so acres that the track lies on - it’s manicured, it’s beautiful with plants and shrubs and trees. The track itself is technical, and it’s well laid out. It’s a great facility. The museum is absolutely a have-to-see. It’s incredible the number of motorcycles and race cars that you just don’t see in a lot of places. It was a lot of fun to share stories with Mr. Barber. He’s done a wonderful job and is dedicated to this facility.”
INDYCAR SERIES POST-TEST QUOTES:
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, fastest): “The team has done a great job for sure. Both cars definitely have got speed. It was kind of a strange day. We actually spent most of the time in the truck. It’s definitely a nice facility here, and it was great to see so many fans out here. We set our time earlier in the day, just before lunch. This afternoon we ran around on old tires just trying a really extreme setup, and got out on two laps at the end there.”
ROBERT DOORNBOS (No. 06 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, second): “I was very happy to drive on a circuit that I am familiar with, where I can use my experience in setting the car up to my liking and getting to know the team better, because it’s a whole new adventure for me. This morning we did only 10 laps and the gearbox broke, so we had to wait a couple of hours to get it fixed. We just had to stay focused for the afternoon and make the most of it. We had a good setup and we got the car to my liking and did a quick lap time. I think it’s very important to make a good first impression, because the team gave me this chance. They know what I can do. They know that I can win races, and I just need to prove it.”
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske fifth): “It was a good day overall. We felt good about the Team Penske car’s balance, and we were really solid at the end of the day. We’re getting ready for the first race. We worked on the brake package and did some general setup work. We really focused on what the small setup changes do to the car.” (About the impressive crowd at Barber Motorsports Park) “It reminded me of when we used to go to Spain for F1 testing, we used to draw crowds like this. It’s pretty cool to get a chance to sign autographs and talk to fans in the paddock when it’s at a test.”
WILL POWER (No. 3 Team Penske, sixth): “We were pretty satisfied. I’ve been out of the car for awhile so it was good to get back into form. We worked away at a number of different things to make the Team Penske car go faster. This is a very physical, challenging and technical track. It was good to continue to work with the team and get comfortable. Overall, I think we accomplished what we wanted.”
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing, 10th): “We had our ups and downs today trying to shave off time. We started out with a bit of oversteer and brought the setup closer to where I was comfortable. Unfortunately, we ran out of time just as we were making great progress.”
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 in High Definition at 2 p.m. (EDT) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. The radio broadcast also will be carried on indycar.com. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season begins with a doubleheader race weekend April 4-5 at St. Petersburg. The races will be telecast at 6 p.m. (EDT) on April 6 by VERSUS.