Open Test was success for Indy Pro Series
Everyone and everything passed the test. That's the verdict coming out of the Indy Pro Series' preseason Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway Feb. 20-22. Twenty-four drivers, including seventeen rookies, completed more than 7,760 incident-free miles on the road course and oval. Sixteen teams, including seven new teams, went home with computers full of data for the March 24 kickoff to the 16-race season, and Indy Pro Series officials, who introduced a new road course wing package and unleaded fuel, were satisfied that the cars will perform at peak levels.
"We had a record number of cars on track, and the results were outstanding," Indy Pro Series executive director Roger Bailey said. "The speeds were faster than last year's, and the feedback we got regarding the performance of the new aerodynamic package and the unleaded fuel was all very positive."
On the oval, the top 22 cars were separated by less than seven-tenths of a second after five-plus hours of testing and 2,817 laps. All cars used equally prepared Dallara chassis and engines prepared by Speedway Engines. That the rookie crop was in the top-10 mix caught the attention of individuals watching the action.
"You see the ability, but you see that the laps are needed too," said four-time Indianapolis 500 champion Rick Mears, the Indy Pro Series driving coach. "But that's what the Indy Pro Series is about. I think they're all going the right direction. It's going to be a good year. They're going to each raise each other's level throughout the season."
Bobby Wilson, a 2006 title contender, led the speed chart charge with a quick lap of 185.876 mph (28.7611 seconds) in the No. 1 Brian Stewart Racing car. Alex Lloyd, a two-race winner last season, was second (185.736; 28.7828) in the No. 7 Sam Schmidt Motorsports-prepared Lucas Oil car. Tom Wood, another series veteran, was third (185.621) in the No. 2 Team Moore Racing car.
"Bobby's got some time under his belt, so he's got an advantage there over some of the newer guys," Mears said. "He did a very good job. He's going to be one of the main players - talent one reason and then having some experience behind him."
Eight first-year competitors were among Nos. 4-15 on the chart. Within the framework of the schedule (seven ovals; nine street/road courses), it's not unreasonable to project any rookie winning races or even the series championship. "Pretty much everyone was doing what they need to do, and doing a good job of it," Mears said. "There were really no mistakes." IRL PR