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Scenes from IndyCar testing at Barber Tuesday

by Scott Morris
Wednesday, February 22, 2012

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Graham Rahal
Scott Morris/AR1.com
A large number of IndyCar teams were testing the 2012 IndyCar at Barber Motorsports Park Tuesday and our Scott Morris was on hand to take these photos and offer up these observations:

Dario was off the track a few times yesterday and today and was not happy. You could see it in his face and his body language as he milled about the paddock and pits. The morning session was stopped to pull him out of the gravel trap. I heard someone say they had to "dig" the car out. Then in the afternoon session I watched him cut turns 7-7a through the grass. He never came back around again, and hung the car up for the day.

Watching the cars turn in to 7-7a, and having sat there many times and watch other cars at this track, I noticed a few things. Just from this observers view, it seems to me like most all of the cars would turn in crisp initially, but then would understeer into the turn from there. I was just judging this by watching the drivers hands, and also the sound of the tires.

I could also see the cars pushing under throttle too, and I noticed this in 8-8a. You could see as the driver applied the throttle, they would get way out to the track edge much sooner than I recall them doing in the previous car.

You can tell the car is softer than the previous model as well, and softer than most any formula car at this level that I have watched. Through 7-7a the old car would skim the curbs and you could see it jump and dart a bit. This car seems to just float right though. Dare I say it kind of even looks comfy and smooth...like a fluffy couch pillow. Really, it almost looks like a good thing if you don’t think about it.

Lots of driver and crew head-shaking on the car, despite huge improvements over the last test here at Barber. Yes, it seems like it will be faster but it was said more than once "She is not fun to drive." "A lot of work and just doesn’t seem to like the corner"  "Understeer in and out"  "We can setup the car toward oversteer to dial it out a bit, but that puts us at the edge of our settings and adjustments" "She is fickle and moody in the setup - what worked for us a few hours ago isn't even close right now"

Some mildly positive comments were "Makes a ton of downforce" which led to "well with that much downforce, the car will be pretty sensitive to temperature and pressure changes"

One driver summed it up pretty well  "Hey, we are drivers. We get in the car and we drive it, and we work with the talented geniuses on our crew and we make it better every time. That is what racing is about. With a challenging car comes a certain reward when you get it right you know. Don’t count that out. Plus, it's a brand new car. The old car had its issues too, and in the end we worked it out and the car raced really well. I expect the same from this package. I like this part of the process myself. It's what separates the top guys from the ones just turning the wheel and pushing the pedals."

The weather was stellar today. About 65-70 degrees, sunny and dry. The track has some "weepers" coming through though, because we have had so much rain here in recent weeks and over the winter. In the valleys of some of the trackside areas, it was pretty swampy. I have soggy shoes to prove it. All in all though, another gorgeous day at Americas most beautiful racing facility.

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