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After Fontana
Final Driver Standings

Rank Driver Points
1 Will Power 671
2 Helio Castroneves 609
3 Scott Dixon 604
4 Juan Pablo Montoya 586
5 Simon Pagenaud 565
6 Ryan Hunter-Reay 563
7 Tony Kanaan 544
8 Carlos Munoz 483
9 Marco Andretti 463
10 Sebastien Bourdais 461
11 Ryan Briscoe 461
12 James Hinchcliffe 456
13 Josef Newgarden 406
14 Charlie Kimball 402
15 Justin Wilson 395
16 Mikhail Aleshin 372
17 Jack Hawksworth 366
18 Takuma Sato 350
19 Graham Rahal 345
20 Carlos Huertas 314
21 Sebastian Saavedra 291
22 Ed Carpenter 262
23 Mike Conway 252
24 Oriol Servia 88
25 Kurt Busch 80
26 J.R. Hildebrand 66
27 Sage Karam 57
28 Luca Filippi 46
29 James Davison 34
30 Jacques Villeneuve 29
31 Alex Tagliani 28
32 Townsend Bell 22
33 Pippa Mann 21
34 Martin Plowman 18
35 Buddy Lazier 11
36 Franck Montagny 8
Transition teams tackle Homestead oval

Indy Car
Tuesday, March 25, 2008

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Driver Coach Al Unser Jr talks with Brian Barnhart (R)
Photos courtesy Ron McQueeney/IRL
Everyone in the Homestead-Miami Speedway driver meeting room listened intently as Brian Barnhart stressed patience for the first of two testing days on the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval.
 
“Let’s focus on familiarity,” the president of the competition and operations divisions for the sanctioning Indy Racing League said.
 
Nine drivers who are transitioning to the IndyCar Series from the Champ Car World Series, many of whom had not driven more than a passenger car on an oval racetrack, wouldn’t argue the point.
 
Oriol Servia
KV Racing Technology (Oriol Servia, Will Power), Conquest Racing (Enrique Bernoldi, Franck Perera) and Dale Coyne Racing (Bruno Junqueira, Mario Moraes) participated in testing last week on the Sebring International Raceway road course. They were joined in the Dallara/Honda/Firestone packages at Homestead by Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (Graham Rahal, Justin Wilson) and HVM Racing (Ernesto Viso). Marty Roth and Jay Howard of Roth Racing also were granted track time because they did not participate in the full oval Open Test in February.
 
Ten drivers recorded 598 laps without incident. Junqueira’s No. 18 car is expected on the racetrack for the first time during the second session March 25 (4-10 p.m. ET).
 
Barnhart set a 195 mph speed limit to start the session under cloudy skies and high humidity, and it increased incrementally as more laps were turned in preparation for the season-opening GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300 under the lights March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
 
Justin Wilson
“The teams are working awfully hard,” said Barnhart, who noted the hundreds of hours crews have labored to prepare the race cars since unification under the IndyCar Series banner was announced four weeks ago. “We’re getting close to event time and clearly track time and seat time is the most valuable commodity. They’ll get a full six hours out there (March 25) and get some decent preparation for this weekend’s race.”
 
During the dinner break, driver coach Al Unser Jr. heard a similar refrain: It’s daunting at first.
 
Franck Perera
“It looks like I started racing just now,” said Perera, who competed in Atlantics and the GP2 Series the past two years. “It looks so easy when you watch on TV, but it’s not. On a (road/street course) you always try to brake later, to have maximum speed in the corners. Here, it’s always the same (left turns) but everything can happen.”
 
That’s what the familiarization/practice sessions and Unser’s advice are meant to counteract. Unser said the drivers quickly will be up to speed and competitive on the 11 ovals this season.
 
“Once you get flat and you feel the downforce in it, then you’ll start dialing that understeer out. These cars are good at letting you know when it is too positive on the steering,” Unser relayed to KV Racing Technology’s Power. “You’ll feel it.”
 
Will Power
Said Power, whose only oval race was at The Milwaukee Mile in 2006: “The first couple of laps I was very unsure of the car. But once I got into it, I started to feel real comfortable. Now it’s a matter of working up to speed and start making changes and feeling how sensitive the car is to them.
 
“Then you have to learn traffic, which is probably even harder again. It’s going to be a year of learning on the ovals. But it’s good to be here and great with all the cars running and the two series together.”

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