FORT WORTH, Texas (May 7, 2012) – The IZOD IndyCar Series’ open test today at Texas Motor Speedway has no shortage of storylines as teams prepare for the June 9th Firestone 550 and the series’ crown jewel, the Indianapolis 500, on Sunday, May 27.
For the 11 drivers participating in the test, it will mark the first open test on Texas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile speedway with the series’ new Dallara DW12 chassis, the newly instituted chassis that has provided the cars with a sleek look while improving driver safety. And for the IZOD IndyCar Series most notable arrival, Formula One star Rubens Barrichello, the test will mark the first time he has ever run on an oval course. He will be piloting the No. 8 BMC/Embrase/Hyundai Brazil Chevrolet) for KV Racing Technology.
Joining Barrichello for the open test will be Ryan Briscoe (No. 2 IZOD Chevrolet), Helio Castroneves (No. 3 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet) and Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet) of Team Penske; Dario Franchitti (No. 10 Target Honda) and Scott Dixon (No. 9 Target Honda) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing; Graham Rahal (No. 38 Service Central Honda) of Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing; Charlie Kimball (No. 83 Novo Nordisk Honda) of Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing; Mike Conway (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./AJ Foyt Racing Honda) and Wade Cunningham (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./AJ Foyt Racing Honda) of A.J. Foyt Racing; and Ed Carpenter (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet) of Ed Carpenter Racing.
“We’re going to Texas to confirm that the aero spec that we laid down is correct,” INDYCAR Vice President of Technology Will Phillips said. “We made a commitment that we would run cars at Texas in a small number and go back to run the cars in as big a group as possible prior to racing there. It will also give us an insight into Indianapolis.”
The first practice session will run from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. CT and the second from 1:30 – 5:30 p.m. The IZOD IndyCar Series open test is open to the public and free of charge. Any interested fans may enter the grandstand area through the speedway’s primary entrance, Gate 4.
Barrichello has helped fill the void left by the departure of Danica Patrick. His popularity across the globe along with his native country of Brazil has helped bring the IZOD IndyCar Series to the forefront internationally. Barrichello’s stellar 19-year Formula One career is highlighted by 11 victories and two runner-up finishes in the series championship in 2002 and ’04 while driving for Ferrari. He left Formula One as the most experienced driver in the sport’s history with 322 career starts.
Throughout the course of his racing career, Barrichello has competed on road/street course events and Monday’s test marks a monumental change for the 39-year-old driver. Barrichello’s first laps on an oval will take place at Texas Motor Speedway, something he will get used to over the course of the next two months as the IZOD IndyCar Series will compete on four of the five ovals on the schedule during that span.
The test also includes a list of drivers that have experienced success at Texas Motor Speedway. Among the drivers that have tallied wins are Castroneves – who is tied for most career IndyCar Series wins with three, along with four drivers with one victory that include last year’s Firestone Twin 275s winners Franchitti and Power, along with Dixon and Briscoe.
The test will offer insight into the strength of Team Penske on ovals following their dominance in the series’ first four street/road course races. The team, which switched from Honda to Chevrolet engines this year, has swept the first four races with Castroneves winning the season-opening race. His win was followed up by three consecutive victories by Power.
While Team Penske has dominated, the series’ other powerhouse team Target Chip Ganassi Racing has struggled to start off the season. Three-time defending champion Franchitti sits 10th in the standings while teammate Dixon holds the sixth spot.
The Firestone 550 serves as the nightcap to a motorsports extravaganza on Saturday, June 9. Prior to the Firestone 550, fans will be treated to Global Rallycross Championship’s Hoon Kaboom Texas. Drivers from the high-flying sport will compete for the opportunity to earn an automatic berth to the X Games Los Angeles 2012. The race week also will feature NASCAR racing on Friday, June 8, as the series comes to Texas for the WinStar World Casino 400.
Tickets for the Firestone 550/Hoon Kaboom Texas doubleheader as well as the WinStar World Casino 400 are available by calling the Texas Motor Speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500 or by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com.