RLR/Andersen Racing Tests Two Firestone Indy Lights Drivers Approximately 48 hours after stock car's best drivers were gunning for glory in the Daytona 500, two young open-wheel drivers were trying their best to impress the staff of RLR/Andersen Racing at a private test of that team's Firestone Indy Lights cars further south at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla. on Tuesday.
They hail from two different continents, but both Jonathan Summerton of Kissimmee, Fla. and Mario Romancini of Sao Paulo, Brazil did just that driving the Dallaras that are used in the official development series of IndyCar.
"Following our complete rebuilds of our two cars and with the new-for-2009 flat-crank engines, we came to Homestead to both shake the cars down and continue to test drivers for the upcoming season," said team co-owner Dan Andersen.
"Overall I was very impressed with what our team has accomplished over the off-season in terms of car preparation and planning," Andersen said. "We have a team stocked with very talented and experienced IndyCar Series crewmembers. I feel confident that no team will be offering better cars to their drivers. It should be a fun season, and I will be disappointed if we're not in victory lane frequently. The test ran flawlessly, with over 300 miles being logged and much learned."
Andersen said he hopes a deal can be put together so Summerton can race full-time in the Firestone Indy Lights Series with his team. "He is clearly one of the most talented drivers America has produced in recent years, and we know we can win immediately with him," Andersen said of the 20-year-old who finished third in the Atlantic series last year and also competed in the A1GP for Team USA. "He turned consistently fast lap times, getting into the high 1:16-second area early in the day."
He was also impressed with Romancini, 21. "Mario comes to us with an impressive resume from Brazilian F3," Andersen said. "He adapted very quickly and posted very competitive times that were only one-tenth of a second off Jonathan's times. We will continue testing him this Friday on the oval at Homestead, and then next week at the series' open test there. Mario impressed me with his focus and of course his obvious talent, and we are discussing the 2009 season."
The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season opener is April 4-5 on the street circuit at St. Petersburg, Fla.
The team also tested two of its Star Mazda cars at Homestead yesterday, with Richard Kent and Denis Navarro doing the driving. The later competed against Romancini in Brazilian F3 in 2007. The Star Mazda season opener is March 20 at Sebring, Fla.