Scott Dixon set the fastest time in Tuesday’s IndyCar testing at Texas Motor Speedway, and Honda motors powered the top three cars. Dixon’s Target-Ganassi teammate Dario Franchitti finished third, behind Novo Nordisk-Ganassi drive Charlie Kimball.
Penske’s Will Power was the fastest Chevy driver, .235 seconds and 2.004 mph slower per lap. Dixon was the only driver to break 212 mph; Kimball lapped at 211, while the rest did 210 mph or less.
IndyCar had some concerns about racing at TMS, a high-banked 1.5-mile oval identical to Las Vegas Motor Speedway where an accident claimed the life of Dan Wheldon last year. The new Dallara DW12 performed flawlessly.
The new car is running with less downforce and slightly less power than the old car—it turns similar lap times but is harder to drive. “Having the car in a situation where you can take a lot of downforce off, it’s pretty difficult and qualifying could actually be difficult for a change. At Texas, that’s pretty big,” Dixon told indycar.com.
“The cars have a range of options, which I was pleasantly surprised with,” Dixon explained. “Instead of coming here with a 10-degree rear flap that created more pack racing and people didn’t have the options to try to separate themselves and create different strategies or be fast for 20 laps but have to lift later on in the stint, there are options. It will be difficult to drive for a race stint, which I think is good.”
Helio Castroneves, who closed the day trading fast laps with teammate Will Power, told indycar.com, “I see three guys, two guys side by side in the race. It will be exciting, but more on the safe side. The car is much more safe.”
Ryan Briscoe, who helped test aero set-ups at TMI in February and was back for two days in May, felt that the changes were wholly positive.
“We came back with a different aero package with less downforce that makes it a little more challenging to drive,” said Briscoe “You can find the limits of the tires sooner. We basically can get close to being fully trimmed out for the qualifying run, and then for the race you’ll have to gamble on what you want to put back in.
“We’ll have to really pedal the cars from mid-race on.”
IndyCar hoped the new car’s aero package would end pack racing; apparently it has succeeded.