Monday, March 14, 2011

What To Watch For: Barber Open Test

We're getting ever closer to the IZOD IndyCar Series season opener at St. Pete, but today and tomorrow mark the open test for teams at Barber Motorsports Park. There are 24 entrants right now, and for many driver/team combos, this will be their first on-track action since the season finale last year.  Below are a few things to watch for at the test:

Don't Panic: So your favorite team is a bit slower than some lower-tier team when the times come out? Don't worry, and remember this is testing. Teams are working on configurations, multiple technical issues, and a whole host of other things. A time slightly off the mark here could mean nothing, ultimately. At the same time, it'll be interesting to read between the lines and see how some of the teams are in terms of overall comfort level with their progression.

New Faces: J.R. Hildebrand (Panther Racing), Oriol Servia and James Hinchcliffe (Newman/Haas), Ana Beatriz (Dreyer and Reinbold), Sebas Bourdais (Dale Coyne Racing), and Charlie Kimball (Norvo Nordisk Ganassi) are all among those in new or different situations this year. The rookie class of Hinch, Hildebrand, and Bia should be especially intriguing to watch.  (Think on this as well: for the IZOD IndyCar Series, I'm pretty sure Sebastien Bourdais is technically considered a rookie).

TBA: Both the #19 Boy Scouts of America car for Dale Coyne and the #34 for Conquest Racing are still shown as TBA. The hour's late, but someone will be in those seats over the two-day test. Just who those drivers are should go a long way towards clearing up some of the lingering questions of the 2011 season.

Kimball: How will the rookies compare?
Expect Lots Of Announcements: Deals finalized, drivers announced, sponsorships revealed--there's going to be a media swarm during and immediately after this test. Remember, this is the week before the season starts. Most, though not all questions, should be answered within the next few days. Hopefully, questions such as the status of Hinchliffe's ride with Newman/Haas, confirmation on Kanaan's ride at KV (not currently listed as a driver for the test, incidentally), and hopefully a bit of news from any remaining teams or entrants hoping to join the fray should be forthcoming.

Livery!: Those of us that love the different designs and tweaks to car liveries are going to be on cloud nine the next couple of days. As the cars roll off the transporters, eagle eyes will spy every adjustment, paint scheme change, and subtle alterations from the previous year.

Above all, enjoy it, read up on it, and get yourself ready for racing. The test at Barber means we're almost to the starting line!


  1. I will definitely watch out for this. I agree with your view on testing - yes, even poor times can improve in the actual race.

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  2. Those "new faces" you listed down are very promising. I am so excited for this year because the rookies all have the potential to become great racers.

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  3. This event will make you see the up-and-coming racers who are brave enough to exhibit their potentials on the play.

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