Monday, March 5, 2012

Quick Guide to INDYCAR Spring Training

This week marks the first open test for INDYCAR, with all signed teams headed to the Sebring short course for Spring Training. This will be the first time all the teams have tested together, and with the battle between engine manufacturers highlighting the intrigue of the deepest field in over a decade, all eyes should be looking towards the Florida course throughout the week.

Here's a quick IndyCar Advocate guide, highlighting how the test will work and some of the key items to watch as Spring Training progresses over the week.

A Tale Of Two Halves: The test is broken into two groups: the first group will test March 5-6, the second March 7-8. The groups are as listed below.

Group A (March 5-6)

#18, James Jakes (Dale Coyne Racing)
#19, Justin Wilson (Dale Coyne Racing)
#77, Simon Pagenaud (Sam Schmidt Motorsports)

#2, Ryan Briscoe (Penske Racing)
#3, Helio Castroneves (Penske Racing)
#12, Will Power (Penske Racing)
#26, Marco Andretti (Andretti Autosport)
#27, James Hinchcliffe (Andretti Autosport)
#28, Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport)

#7, Sebastien Bourdais (Lotus Dragon Racing)
#78, Simona de Silvestro (HVM Racing)

Group B (March 8-9)

#9, Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing)
#10, Dario Franchitti (Target Chip Ganassi Racing)
#14, Mike Conway (A.J. Foyt Racing)
#15, Takuma Sato (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing)
#38, Graham Rahal (Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing)
#67, Josef Newgarden (Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing)
#83, Charlie Kimball (Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing)

#4, J.R. Hildebrand (Panther Racing)
#5, E.J. Viso (KV Racing Technology)
#8, Rubens Barrichello (KV Racing Technology)
#11, Tony Kanaan (KV Racing Technology)
#20, Ed Carpenter (Ed Carpenter Racing)

#6, Katherine Legge (Lotus Dragon Racing)
#22, Oriol Servia (Lotus Dragon Racing)
#98, Alex Tagliani (Team Barracuda--Bryan Herta Autosport)

Testing times each day will be from 9am-Noon, and again from 1-5pm, with an hour lunch break in between. Firestone Indy Lights will also be testing Wednesday, March 7.

Weather: Thankfully, at this time, there's no rain scheduled to hit Sebring this week. Things change, but right now the forecast looks great, with highs in the mid-70s Monday-Tuesday, and in the mid-80s to end the week.

No Timing and Scoring: Looking for that link to find out the times for your favorite team? You'll have to dig, because INDYCAR won't be providing timing and scoring for the test. (EDIT: As a happy surprise, Timing and Scoring does appear to be functioning).

First Time Out: This should be the first testing time for Josef Newgarden and Ed Carpenter. Newgarden and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing will be putting their first laps in the new car after securing a late Honda engine deal, and it'll be nice to see what one of the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders can put together. Ed Carpenter Racing will also be making their debut with their Chevy engine. James Jakes (still unofficial but apparently in at Dale Coyne Racing) will also be getting his first substantial chance to test, after his test in late February at Barber was cut short due to a mandated engine change.

Chevy: As mentioned above, Chevy will see Ed Carpenter taking his first laps with a Chevy engine in the DW12. The addition of Ed Carpenter Racing as an "All-American" teams will be closely watched, as will how much Chevy's "info-share" strategy among teams works at getting them up to speed quickly.

Honda: We all expect Honda to be up to snuff when the green flag waves, but reports out of testing so far point to a number of grenading engines up to this point. Hey, that's what happens with engine competition. Problems with the ECU have been largely pointed to as the issue, so we'll see if that's been cleared up at all.

Lotus: Lotus is still working to catch up, and we'll have to look for indicators of just how hard they're pushing things compared to the other engine manufacturers. Remember, they aren't exactly on the same timetable with their late start. Still, it will be hard not to look at evidence to see how drivers such as Oriol Servia or Alex Tagliani are doing compared to their competitors. The important thing is to try to keep it all in perspective, which is sometimes easier said than done.

Watching Lotus Dragon: Keeping on the Lotus topic, it's been pretty quiet so far in the Lotus Dragon Racing camp so far. We know they had their first tests last month, but have no idea what to expect in terms of speed for them this week. Sebastien Bourdais is not the type of driver to keep quiet when things aren't going his way, so what he says coming out of the test might be another indicator of just where this team is.

Rubens Barrichello: Rubens' signing with KV Racing Technology is still big news, and it will be great to (at least unofficially) see how he's running compared to some of the other teams and marquee drivers in the Series. That's probably how it will be all year, one would imagine.

With the opener at St. Pete just under 3 weeks away, Spring Training is going to be one of our best looks at where some of these teams are at right now. Even without timing and scoring, the rumor mill will be at full output, detailing who's struggling, who's behind, and who seems to be figuring it all out. Time will tell if the results in Sebring play out in St. Pete.


  1. It's disappointing for an official series test for there to be live timing and scoring. GrandAm did it for their preseason test at Daytona so even if there was no radio or TV coverage you could still keep track of times.

    This is definitely an area in which IndyCar could be more fan friendly.

    1. I'd definitely like to see it as well. I'm wondering exactly why there isn't any. It'd be nice to have it in the background while I work today.

    2. Indy car said they will have session reports posted on their website. Not as good as live but a lot better than nothing.

    3. Thanks, Jim. And yes, you're right. I'll take what I can get. :)