DRIVERS GET CHANCE TO IMPRESS AT CHRIS GRIFFIS MEMORIAL TESTMost of the drivers who participated on Day 1 of the Mazda Road to Indy's Chris Griffis Memorial Test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway don't have firm plans for 2012.
But what they accomplished over the 130 minutes of testing on Oct. 28 will go a long way in determining their future.
Thirty drivers participated in the test on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's 13-turn, 2.5134-mile road course. At the end of the day, Peter Dempsey (Andretti Autosport) led the Firestone Indy Lights sessions with a lap of 1:20.6546; Zach Veach (Andretti Autosport) led Star Mazda sessions with a lap of1.27.1120 and Scott Hargrove (JDC Motorsports) led the USF2000 sessions with a lap of 1.29.6937.
"It's great that we can be here to remember Chris (Griffis) and Dan (Wheldon), but I'm also here to do the best job I can for Andretti Autosport," Dempsey said. "They're looking to get their drivers for next year, and I want to be in position to stay with them. To top the two sessions today by a comfortable margin feels good. Obviously, I have a bit more experience in the cars than some of the others, but I'm very happy.
While not in the same boat as Dempsey, three drivers who know what they'll be racing in 2012, but not where took the opportunity to acclimate themselves to the cars they'll be racing.
2011 Star Mazda Champion Tristan Vautier, who earned a scholarship to race in Firestone Indy Lights, drove with Team E, while 2011 USF2000 National Champion Petri Suvanto, who earned a scholarship to race in Star Mazda, turned laps with Team Pelfrey. Scott Anderson, who will move up to USF2000 thanks to his title in the Skip Barber National Series tested with Belardi Auto Racing.
"It's great to be on the track, even if it's in the opposite direction of the oval," Vautier said. "What a great opportunity to be in the Team E car with the paddle shift. I had a lot of fun in the car and learned a lot. It's exciting to know I'll be driving one of these cars thanks to the Mazda Road to Indy Scholarship."
For Suvanto, whose only prior laps at Indianapolis were in an F1 video game, the test was part of a smooth transition from the USF2000 to the more powerful Star Mazda cars.
"The plan is to do Star Mazda and I'm here to prepare next year," he said. "Last year in F2000 was great, but we have to forget the past and focus on the future. I have a lot to learn, but the transformation hasn't been too difficult. It didn't take me long to get up to speed. It's now up to learning the specifics of the car."
Drivers will have another two hours of testing on Oct. 29 with the morning sessions running from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and the afternoon session slated for 1 - 4:30 p.m.***Carlos Munoz had a case of mistaken identity at Indianapolis, thanks to his full Spanish name. The 19-year-old veteran of European road racing's given name is Carlos Munoz Guzman, so he was entered as Carlos Guzman, even though he races as Carlos Munoz. "It's a mistake that happens often when I come to America," said Munoz, who was the second-fastest Firestone Indy Lights driver of the day.Click here for the Official Petri Suvanto web site - designed and built by Racecar