Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves set an unofficial track record during the opening Verizon IndyCar test at Phoenix International Raceway on Friday.
Castroneves who drives the No.3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet set a fastest time of 19.5858s beating a time set by Arie Luyrndyck back in 1996. Luyendyck was earlier this week announced as one of a three man race steward panel for the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2016.
Testing continues at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday. Speaking about his record breaking day in Phoenix, Castroneves commented by saying:
We tested here obviously two weeks ago. Just keep going. We’re working very close, not only myself, but the entire Team Penske Hitachi car seems to be very dialed in. Again, there were areas we didn’t have time to test when we came here because I was mostly looking for the aero balance. This was the first time I was able to make the car the way I want it. So far the track is pretty smooth, no issues. I feel that it’s going to be fast. Obviously it’s going to be a very tight field. I do believe the rest of the cars are still up to speed, and tomorrow is going to be another fast day.
CEO of Verizon IndyCar Series parent company Hulman & Co Mark Miles spoke about the appointment of Arie Luyendyck, Dan Davis and Max Papis as race stewards by saying:
It was really important to us that we found three very experienced, enthusiastic stewards who will be the stewards for every race. I mean, maybe there’s an illness or something, but I think everybody’s expectation is same three stewards all the way through from start to finish for the Verizon IndyCar Series this year. I think that has not been the case in the past, so we’re looking forward to that.
Dan Davis who will action as Chief race steward for the Verizon IndyCar Series commented by saying:
I just wanted to say a couple things. I’m really happy to be here. You all know I was with Ford forever and ever. I learned a lot about the sport, but I wasn’t an official. I will tell you things that are so important to me, so important, are honesty, integrity, and fairness. It’s led my entire career since I started in the business at 18 years old. I started in the auto business at 18. It’s 40 years later. If you don’t have integrity, you don’t have anything. That’s what we’re going to write. I mean, that is what we’re going to bring to the stewardship. I think it’s important and that’s what we’re going to do. As many of you know, I am passionate for motorsports and I am passionate for open-wheel, and that’s why I’m here.
Max Papis commented on his appointment by saying:
First of all, it’s an honor to be here. You guys know well the love I have for the sport. It’s been the number one reason why I came here. When Jay (Frye) called me, I asked him exactly what he meant, what he wanted out of me. When he told me about the word ‘consistency, transparency’, I was sold. I feel that obviously I’ve always been on the other side. I’m still on the other side. I’m still a racecar driver. But it’s a set of eyes that really can determine if things are done — for which reasons things are happening on the track is going to make a really big difference.
Verizon IndyCar Series President of Competition and Operations Jay Frye commented by saying:
In general, the league had a pretty good week this week. We made some additions with four new people, Bill Pappas, our new vice president of competition and race engineering, then the three new stewards. We had an opportunity to make the league better, stronger, and we are really excited about what we have been able to accomplish this week.
Reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya commented on his opening day at Phoenix by saying:
The Verizon car did pretty good here this morning. It handled pretty well. Phoenix International Raceway is one of my favorite tracks and the new banking they put in a few years ago will definitely make it more challenging and will test the strength of our cars. We’re just getting settled in and it’s good to have so many cars around and run with a little more traffic. This afternoon’s session will be even better with everyone running on the track.
Will Power stated:
I haven’t been here before. Obviously I tested here. It’s very smooth. It’s fast. It’s going to be interesting tonight to run in traffic. Obviously we’ve just been running by ourselves, probably qualifying-type trim. It’s just one of those things you’re going to have to work out, understand where you can pass, what lanes you can run, how it’s going to behave in traffic. That’s what tonight will be all about because it’s the time that the race will be held, so we’ll see.
James Hinchcliffe who is returning to IndyCar competition less than a year after his horrendous accident at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway commented by saying:
It feels like the first day in school. We traveled to some races in the second half of the year. I still felt like a little bit of an outsider because I wasn’t doing my job. To now be back here and be back in the car with everybody, it’s great to see all those familiar faces again. I’ve been driving the car. Obviously testing and driving an Indy car is phenomenal always, but it’s competition that you really miss after a while. It’s nice to be back here with a bunch of cars on track and get sort of those competitive juices flowing again.
Gabby Chaves who was drafted into the Phoenix test last minute to fill in for Mikhail Aleshin commented on his return to track action by saying:
I think the first session was pretty good. We’re just working through our plan and making the changes that we want. We’re going in the right direction for sure, and finding speed in every outing. I’m really happy with the work from the No. 7 crew. It’s great to be part of it and to contribute to getting better.
Max Chilton who was taking part in his first official IndyCar test since joining Chip Ganassi Racing driving the No.8 Chevrolet commented by saying:
In the first session today I didn’t do a great amount of running but it was very productive – getting around 35 laps in. I was comfortable from the start and got flat out pretty quickly. We did a qualifying run and then I got out of the car and went up top to the stands with Dario Franchitti to watch. The turn-in point on this track is critical and I wanted to get a different vantage point and hear Dario’s thoughts on what I was doing compared to others.
Reigning series champion, Scott Dixon who drives the No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Team Chevrolet commented on his first day back in the car commented by saying;
Everything is good so far with Team Target. It’s really great being back here at Phoenix and the track is really going to be fast. I’m excited for the race and hope we can put on a good show. We focused the first session on aero work and balance of the car for the most part. We only ran one set of tires where most others did more in the session, so I feel confident where we’re at on the time charts.
Tony Kanaan in the No.10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Team Chevrolet commented by saying:
It’s obviously great to be back racing in Phoenix. Even with a different track configuration than the last time I was here in 2005, it’s still one of my favorite race tracks. I didn’t do any race runs during that first session, but I didn’t feel much difference in the track with the changes they’ve made. I have a lot of fond memories here with two wins and I’m just glad we’re getting the chance to come back and put on a good show.
Takuma Sato in the No.14 ABC Supply Co sponsored AJ Foyt Enterprises Honda commented on his day by saying:
It’s great to be back in the car especially on the oval– the sensation of speed is very exciting. New car, new engine and everything felt very positive. Phoenix is a quite challenging track. I like that Turn 1 and Turn 4 are very different in character. Great fun. I haven’t run with other cars yet so I don’t know how it will be but it’s going to be a quite exciting race for sure.
Graham Rahal in the No.15 Steak N’Shake Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Team Honda commented on his first day back in the car by saying:
Testing has gone okay today so far. We have some work to do to get a little more speed and catch up to the competition. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan boys have done a great job because this car is obviously quick and led the pack for the Hondas so far in the first session. We’re going to try to keep doing that all year, that’s our goal. I’m really proud of our guys for the effort. The car looks amazing with really, really fine attention to detail. But I’m hopeful we can find some more speed today and tomorrow.
Dale Coyne Racing’s Conor Daly who has a full time Verizon IndyCar Series drive in 2016 commented on his day in the No.18 by saying:
It’s really cool to be back in the car and on this type of an oval. It’s a whole new experience for me. It’s a really cool track though I think, really unique Turn 1 and 2 and very different from 3 and 4. I’m just trying to get used to it. We’re going through the day as we planned. It’s great to be able to test and just do some work on the car. That’s what we’re doing, we’re here to gather information and make sure that when we come back for the race. We’re very well sorted.
Luca Filippi driving the No.19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda commented on his day in the car at Phoenix International Raceway by saying:
I had a good feeling following the first session. It was my first time back in the Indy car since last year but mainly my first time here in Phoenix and my second time only on an oval. There were many things that I had to learn and I had to obviously go step by step. I found a good feeling with the race car and with the circuit as well. We’re working with the team in order to get to know each other a little better and we are taking the right steps and going the right direction. So far, I’m very excited and I’m having fun driving around the circuit. It’s very demanding, very technical but very exciting as well.
Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet returns to the Verizon IndyCar Series for the 2016 season and team owner/driver Ed Carpenter driving the No.20 ECR Chevrolet commented on his day in the car by saying:
We didn’t run as much as we initially thought, we had a couple of issues when we started. That was disappointing as we had just tested here the other day, but we came with a different car and had a couple of electrical issues to work through. Then, Josef was having a good day so we jumped to what he was working on just to speed up the process. Now we’re in good shape, I think we’re both pretty happy, especially for the minimal amount of running the 20 did relative to everyone else. We still have a lot to accomplish yet tonight and tomorrow.
Josef Newgarden in the No.21 Fuzzy’s Vodka ECR Chevrolet commented on his day in the car by saying:
It was awesome to get back on track, especially with everyone here finally. You can test, simulate, make all the changes you want, but it’s tough to get a representative read until you get on track with everyone. It’s nice to be back. Phoenix is still awesome and fast like it was when we were here a few weeks ago. It’s just cool to come here with Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka, especially with the 100th Running Limited Edition bottle on the car. It looks great and we’re feeling good to start the year off.
Carlos Munoz in the No.26 Andretti Autosport Honda commented on his day in the car by saying:
We had our first run with the complete 2016 car and are getting used to trying a lot of stuff. The main goal is to get a bunch of data in different configurations. The race condition will be during nighttime so this afternoon’s practice will be more of a read for the race than this morning.
Marco Andretti in the No.27 Snapple Andretti Autosport Honda topped the times in the second session on Friday evening by saying:
I love this place. I always have. I even drove the old configuration back when I started, which makes me feel pretty old. That was like 2005. A lot of fun so far. Really it’s a place that makes you work. In the middle of turn one in particular it gets pretty heavy. Not a terrible start. But they’re putting up some pretty big times. We’re just trying to hang in there until we get the car to our liking.
Ryan Hunter Reay in the DHL sponsored No.28 Andretti Autosport Honda commented on his day by saying:
Today was the first time we’ve had the DHL car on a short oval with the altered Honda aero kit so we were really just trying to march through a list of items to test. Not the deficit we wanted to see to start out testing, but we have another three sessions – a day and half – left to go so we’ll get there. It’s great to be here in Phoenix; looking forward to seeing all the fans here at the PrixView event tomorrow and returning for the race on April 2nd.
Jack Hawksworth in the No.41 ABC Supply Co sponsored AJ Foyt Racing Enterprises Honda commented on his day in the car by saying:
I didn’t get much running in because we had some radio issues, but we’ve got it sorted out now. We have a lot of work to do, but I’m looking forward to running under the lights.
Chip Ganassi Racing Team’s Charlie Kimball commented on his run by saying:
Today was the first time I’ve ever run any laps on the oval here at Phoenix. The last time I was here was actually in 2003 in the F2000 car on the road course. It’s definitely a different sensation, but it’s really fun. It’s a pretty serious race track with a lot of banking in Turn 1 and a little less banking in Turn 3, but a lot of commitment involved. It’s really smooth all the way through. It’s a lot like Iowa just smoother and a little longer track length. We didn’t get a great read on everything quite yet – it was still pretty early in the day. We did get in a good first few runs and were able to make some changes that helped us learn quite a bit and prepare for the rest of the open test.