Simona De Silvestro has four IZOD IndyCar Series road/street course races under her helmet. Now it's time to tackle the equally challenging set of diverse ovals.
De Silvestro, Takuma Sato of KV Racing Technology and Mario Romancini and Bertrand Baguette of Conquest Racing will participate in rookie testing April 23 at Kansas Speedway. The 1.5-mile oval will host the first IZOD IndyCar Series oval race of the season May 1.
Twenty-seven cars are entered in the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 (1:30 p.m. ET, ABC).
John Andretti, driving the No. 43 Team Window World entry for Richard Petty/Andretti Autosport, will be one. He'll participate in a refresher day at Kansas Speedway on April 22. Joining him on the track will be KV Racing Technology's E.J. Viso and Mario Moraes, and Dan Wheldon in the National Guard Panther Racing car.
On April 21, Jay Howard of Sarah Fisher Racing, Luczo Dragon Racing/de Ferran Motorsports' Raphael Matos, plus Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske will get in laps. The three days of testing are closed to spectators.
De Silvestro, driving the No. 78 Team Stargate Worlds/HVM Racing car, already has led laps this season (Brazil), has run in the top 10 consistently and - given a little more luck - would have finished in the top 10. The 21-year-old Switzerland native is looking forward to her first oval experience.
"I am constantly learning and will use that knowledge as I compete in many other races," she said.
IZOD IndyCar Series technical director Kevin Blanch and veteran IZOD IndyCar Series driver Ed Carpenter will observe the rookies, who will have a list of items to practice.
"You want to see if they're reasonable in their speed and consistent with their line," Blanch said. "What I always tell them is that I'm not interested in how fast you go necessarily; you just need to be consistent. Whatever you do, do it every time.
"The first three-fourths of the day they need to go out and learn to be consistent. Get back up to speed where you just left off. If you were running 205s, and you came in and the team made a change, you need to go back out and run 205. Work on pit stops. Work on entering pit lane the right way and getting back on the racetrack the right way.
"Toward the end of day they need to be somewhere near where the (other veteran drivers) have been running. There's no pressure. It's not real intense. We want them to get familiar with the car, so when we come back and there are 26 others out there with them they're not worried about moving the roll bars or the pit speed rev limiter. They've been down that road so it's really just about them and the racetrack."