Indianapolis gives new IndyCars first test on oval

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INDIANAPOLIS — The new IndyCars are expected to take the tension level even higher at Indianapolis 500 practices this year.

The IndyCar Series held an open test Wednesday to gain information about its new cars before Indy 500 practice begins. Practice opens May 12, qualifying will be May 19-20 and the race is May 27.

While drivers have liked how the new cars have performed on street and road courses, there is uncertainty about how they will perform on ovals. Indy will be the first race of the year held on an oval track.

“It will be hard,” Tony Kanaan of KV Racing Technology said. “You can see how competitive the series is already. Once you’re going to get here, it’s all new to everybody. There’s so many things that can happen that are unknown, and this place makes it hard just being
this place.”

Drivers participating included Kanaan, Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Takuma Sato, Mike Conway, Ed Carpenter, JR Hildebrand, Justin Wilson and Marco Andretti.

“I went out of the pits and I went flat out right away,” Kanaan said. “I have to say the new aerokit is a little bit better. The engine manufacturers are still trying to dial in a bunch of the things they are trying to do, and in one day, I don’t think we’ll be able to do it. But it felt good.”

Sato, of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, wasn’t as excited.

“Right away, I felt very different from last year’s car, which we need to address right away,” he said. “We need to manipulate to get an ability to get more speed before we get to full speed.”

Castroneves, the three-time Indy 500 champion from Penske Racing, expects plenty of speed.

“The car, I believe, is going to create a tremendous amount of draft,” he said.

The amount of practice time before the race was shortened in 2010. Castroneves believes the old schedule would have been ideal this year with so many changes. Castroneves believes his Penske teammates, Will Power and Ryan Briscoe, will be helpful because they can share information, but he still could use more time.

“Every time we spend time at this place, it’s extremely important, even if it’s only four laps,” he said.

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