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DATE News (chronologically)
02/25/08
irl
2008 season opens with Homestead test
The IndyCar Series officially opens the 2008 season Feb. 27-28 with the first Open Test of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Drivers will test on the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval from 4-10 p.m. (ET) both days in preparation for the season-opening race at the facility under the lights on March 29.

"We're very much looking forward to getting back to the racetrack and preparing for the 2008 season," said Brian Barnhart, president of the competition and operations division of the Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body of the IndyCar Series and the Indy Pro Series. "Homestead-Miami Speedway and Sebring International Raceway (where teams will test March 3-6) both offer first-class facilities in warm-weather venues to allow our teams and drivers the opportunity to get ready for another season of outstanding racing."

Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Dan Wheldon, who will be seeking a series-record fourth consecutive victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway, will use the track time to work out off-season kinks and work on race craft.

"After the end of the season I had in '07, it makes you even more determined to get in the car," said Wheldon, who recorded two early victories in 2007 but had only one top-five finish in the second half. "Anytime I'm in the race car I'm incredibly happy."

Darren Manning, who enters his second season with A.J. Foyt Racing, is looking to pick up where he left off in 2007.

"I'm super excited ever since the last race really to get back going again for a second year with A.J.," Manning said. "We had quite a lot of good showings last year and a lot of good improvements, but the most exciting thing is most race weekends we'd finish and say, 'Oh, I wish we could start the race weekend now with what we've learned,' because there's no testing once the season gets going.

"We generally came away with knowing what we need to do next time we're going to race. We're really looking forward to getting back to the racetracks we've raced on before together, and Homestead is going to be another step forward for us giving us more track time."

Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe will use the test to further acclimate himself with a new team.

"It's going to be a very special experience for me to race for Team Penske this season," said Briscoe, who finished fifth in last year's Indianapolis 500. "They are certainly one of the most successful organizations in all of motorsports and to be able to put on that firesuit and climb into the car is truly an honor.

"I'm fortunate that I live near the race shop in Mooresville, N.C., because I've been able to spend a lot of time there during the off-season to get to know the team as much as possible so we're on the same page when the season starts."

Drivers will be adapting to a new paddle shift system as well as an optional variable assist steering rack.

"As far as getting ready for the year, something important that you can't really do necessarily at the test is hope that your off season R&D that's been done at the shop and by the engineers works and pays off and gives you an edge," Andretti Green Racing's Danica Patrick said. "If not, then you need to work hard to try to find other ways to go faster because everybody's working in the off season to find speed. 

"That and then just as a driver pushing yourself really hard to get into that zone where you get comfortable for the season."

IndyCar Test Participants

Car

Driver Hometown Entrant
2 A.J. Foyt IV Hockley, Texas Vision Racing
3 Helio Castroneves Sao Paulo, Brazil Team Penske
4 Vitor Meira Brasilia, Brazil Panther Racing
6 Ryan Briscoe Sydney, Australia Team Penske
7 Danica Patrick Roscoe, Ill. Andretti Green Racing
9 Scott Dixon Auckland, New Zealand Target Chip Ganassi Racing
10 Dan Wheldon Emberton, England Target Chip Ganassi Racing
11 Tony Kanaan Salvador, Bahia, Brazil Andretti Green Racing
14 Darren Manning North Yorkshire, England A.J. Foyt Enterprises
17 Ryan Hunter-Reay Boca Raton, Fla. Rahal Letterman Racing
20 Ed Carpenter Indianapolis Vision Racing
24 Jay Howard (R) Basildon, England Roth Racing
25 Marty Roth Toronto Roth Racing
26 Marco Andretti Nazareth, Pa. Andretti Green Racing
27 Hideki Mutoh (R) Tokyo Andretti Green Racing

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