Monday, March 11, 2013

What To Watch For: IndyCar Barber Open Test

While attending the big charity event at the IndyCar Dallara Factory this past Saturday (which looked to be a HUGE success, by the way!), I was happy to notice just how many folks had their kids, grandchildren, or other young fans with them to the event. For every plan and "they ought to do ________" statement about IndyCar out there, there remains little to match the positive impact of putting a kid in front of the IndyCar product and let them experience its access and speed for themselves.

What compares to seeing a kid watch, almost unbelieving, an IndyCar scream past for the first time? It's all ZOOOOOM and WOW and HEY HOLY CRAP DID YOU SEE THAT? How could you not fall in love with that until the day you die? That's why nothing matches seeing a kid get what IndyCar is all about. I hope there's plenty of that this IndyCar season.

Speaking of the IndyCar season, and jumping down off of my soapbox, this Monday through Wednesday marks  IndyCar's version of "spring training", as the teams head down to Barber Motorsports Park for the big open test. Here are a few things you should keep an eye on this week as we count down to the start of the season:

-Yes, Virginia, There Is Live Streaming: Both Tuesday and Wednesday should offer live timing and scoring from 10am-6pm. Make sure to bookmark this link, if you haven't done so already. If you need a list of events, check out this pdf.

-It Won't Be A Repeat Of Last Year (Probably): In last year's Barber test, Graham Rahal and the Honda cars topped the charts, as drivers such as Rahal and Mike Conway recorded the fastest times over the two-day test. Bear in mind last season saw a shift in performance between Chevy and Honda over the course of the year, and the test last year was still very much learning about the DW12 car. With a year under their belt, teams will still be tweaking and learning, but don't read too much into comparing last year's times versus this year's off the bat.

-The Rookie Looks To Keep It Going: Tristan Vautier has been freaky fast (sorry Jimmy John's) in early testing this year. IndyCar's current default Sunoco Rookie of the Year has definitely raised some eyebrows with his times thus far; if he can keep it up, the sky just might be the limit at an already-strong Schmidt Peterson Motorsports this year. It'll be fun to see if he's still showing up among the top times this week.

Vautier hasn't lacked speed in the preseason.
(Courtesy IndyCar Media)
-Lights Goes First: Monday isn't just about press availability, it's also track time for the slowly growing Firestone Indy Lights field. While there won't be an abundance of cars on track, this is probably the most promising fields Lights has had since 2010. Look for a couple of late adds to the field as we draw near to St. Pete.

-Coyne Finalizes (Finally?): We had some fun with Dale Coyne's propensity for both tardiness and the obscure last week, but it sounds as if the Coyne 2nd seat will feature Ana Beatriz for at least some of the races this year, with Stefan Wilson's name (among other possibilities) also coming up for seat time. We'll wait and see if there will be some platooning in that seat. You can also look for the Dale Coyne official announcement of Justin Wilson's signing, which still hadn't been announced, despite the common knowledge he'd be back this year.


  1. IroncurtainantiheroMarch 11, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    Thank you for your posts, Zachary. They are greatly appreciated.

    As you wrote in your last paragraph, Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star is reporting that Dale Coyne Racing's two drivers this season will be:

    Justin Wilson: all season.
    Stefan Wilson: all road/street courses except Brazil.
    Ana Beatriz: all ovals and Brazil street course.

  2. Ah, there we go! I actually believe S. Wilson isn't actually 100% signed for the season just yet, just confirmed for testing Wednesday. Hopefully, the contract is finalized for the partial season soon!

    Thanks for reading!