FORT WORTH, Texas (May 7, 2012) - Former Formula One star Rubens Barrichello had his IZOD IndyCar Series rookie oval test at Texas Motor Speedway postponed on Sunday night, but it didn't discourage him from running laps at the world-class motorsports venue anyway.
"I can see how much I was so excited because I slept last night thinking about today was going to happen," Barrichello said. "I woke up on the other side of the bed so I was already ovaling in my dreams. So it was a good experience for me when I got going here (on track)."
Barrichello, a 19-year Formula One veteran with 11 career victories and two series championship runner-up finishes, was part of an 11- driver open test at Texas Motor Speedway on Monday, which included his rookie oval test at the outset of the morning session. While the other drivers were getting a feel for the new Indy car chassis on a high- banked oval, Barrichello was focused on getting acclimated to ovals...period.
Having run road and street courses his entire racing career, the oval was foreign to him when he joined KV Racing Technology this season. The IZOD IndyCar Series season opened with four road/street courses where Barrichello notched three top-10 finishes, but now he needs to be prepared for four ovals in the next five races, including the Indy 500 on May 27 and the Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 9.
Despite his racing pedigree, INDYCAR requires him to take part in a rookie oval test session, where he is evaluated by officials and must pass to compete on ovals. He ran consistent laps around 205 miles per hour and passed the test before joining the other drivers for the open test.
"I did only have three runs by myself before the other cars came out so you are a little scared to do something silly there because keeping the inside lane is not that easy because my car is running safe and lots of downforce, " Barrichello said. "I’m trying to keep myself out of trouble before going really fast."
He ran 45 laps in the open morning session with a top lap of 204.772 miles per hour. That ranked 10th out of the 10 drivers that were on track, but finding optimum speed is not the goal in the test session. He followed up with 78 laps in the afternoon session and improved with a top lap of 206.848 mph.
"It's very, very different than anything else I've ever experienced," he said. "I've been to places almost flat in F1, you got to have the courage to take it flat and gain that little 100th (of a second) some time, and you feel the pleasure of it. Here this morning it wasn’t the case of actually getting flat, it’s keeping the line and keeping the vision on it. I’m looking to this white line to get close and not go over, so I wish I had five days here to get a peaceful run."
Barrichello has been fortunate to have a long-time friend as his KV Racing Technology teammate in fellow Brazilian Tony Kanaan. Kanaan, a 16-year Indy-car veteran with 15 wins and a series championship, has been a mentor for Barrichello as he adjusts to the new style of car, competition and ovals. He also was at the speedway Monday to shake down the car for Barrichello before his rookie test as well as provide input and advice throughout the day.
"It was a good experience when I got going and I want to thank the whole crew and especially Tony because he’s not only a brother to me but he’s someone who has been around so much, " Barrichello said. "Every time I went out and there was something new to me, he already told me, so it was something that I was expecting so it was good."
Barrichello already has heard about the pack and three-abreast racing that comes at Texas Motor Speedway and he realizes at this stage he probably is not ready for that next step.
"The racing situation is different than just running by yourself and that's been easy, but with all the other cars it must be tough," Barrichello said. "Up to now it doesn't look like it is wide enough just for me, imagine three."
Tickets for the Firestone 550 are available by calling (817) 215-8500 or by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com.