Another off weekend, another wave of testing for IZOD IndyCar Series drivers and teams.
Will Power, Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Ed Carpenter took laps yesterday at the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway in advance of the Kentucky Indy 300 on Sept. 4. The test may prove very important to Power, the championship leader, as he'll have to seal his title during a season-ending stretch of four consecutive ovals.
In contrast to his notable success on road and street courses this year, Power's best finish on ovals has been a fifth-place result on the bullring at Iowa Speedway. The Australian driver is still trying to become a consistent contender on speedways, but he's still very excited about what awaits him following the final road race of 2010 on Aug. 22 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.
"I think this test is important, because it's always good for me to get on an oval, to get accustomed to the way we drive the car with this stretch coming up," Power said in a statement released by Kentucky Speedway. "...The racecars on the ovals are the key when you put yourself in my position. That's where I lack a little bit of experience, but I'm learning a lot quickly.
"We definitely have to be doing better than fifth-place finishes on ovals. We've been knocking on the door there and I'm really looking forward to the last four [races], because I think I could be challenging for wins."
Power will also be testing tomorrow at Infineon as part of a major session at the Northern California road course. Also expected to participate is his championship rival Dario Franchitti, who currently sits 41 points behind Power after winning last weekend at Mid-Ohio. Franchitti is the defending champion of the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma.
The other drivers coming to Sonoma tomorrow are: Scott Dixon, Vitor Meira, Francesco Dracone, Milka Duno, Alex Lloyd, Raphael Matos, J.R. Hildebrand, Justin Wilson, Alex Tagliani, Mario Moraes, E.J. Viso and Takuma Sato.
New Hampshire Motor Speedway's return to open-wheel racing has been pushed back to next August as IndyCar's 2011 schedule continues to remain in flux.
Having to move their two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series dates has forced NHMS to do the same with their IZOD IndyCar Series date, which will move from the originally announced July 31, 2011 to August 14, 2011.
"With this change, it gives fans from New England, Canada and across the country three consecutive months of major racing events," said track GM Jerry Gappens in a statement. "This will be a tremendous boost to the economic benefit the speedway provides and increase in tourism to our great state.
“In addition, I really appreciate [Indy Racing League CEO] Randy Bernard and all of the officials of the IZOD IndyCar Series for working with us to make this change. It creates some travel and logistical challenges for their group, but it further demonstrates their commitment to bringing open wheel racing back to New England.”
Bernard has said that he would like to put the 2011 schedule out by the end of this month, even if there's some things left to be finalized.