Wilson paces Indy Lights open test day at Speedway
Stefan Wilson hopes that a good test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is an indication of things to come later this month.
The Englishman led the 18 drivers who participated in the one-day Open Test on the famed 2.5-mile oval with a lap of 190.571 mph in his No. 5 Andretti Autosport car.
"We had a bit of help to get (the fastest) lap, but at the end of the day, everyone had a bit help to get their fastest lap," Wilson said. "The car felt really good. We had a few laps in traffic at the end, and the car felt even better. We were working hard all day and tried to run by ourselves for most of the day. When I got the fastest lap, it was the only time I had an actual tow."
Team Moore Racing's Gustavo Yacaman was the only other veteran in the top five on the speed charts, posting the second-fastest lap (189.841 mph). Yacaman's teammate Victor Garcia, Sam Schmidt Motorsports' Josef Newgarden and Bryan Herta Autosport's Duarte Ferreira rounded out the top five.
Yacaman was happy to run up front, but knows things can change very quickly at Indianapolis.
"We were on top (of the speed charts) for most of the day, but at the end of the day it doesn't matter," Yacaman said. "Last year, I was the fastest here, but at the race I was dead last because the car wasn't good on Race Day. Today was good. The car was good in traffic, but we'll see if we're still good come race day."
In all, drivers turned nearly 1,300 laps of incident-free testing. Rookie's Rusty Mitchell (Team E) and Jorge Goncalvez (Belardi Auto Racing) each turned 88 laps, most of any drivers.
OPEN TEST QUOTEBOOK:
STEFAN WILSON (No. 5 Andretti Autosport): "We had a bit of help to get (the fastest) lap, but at the end of the day, everyone had a bit help to get their fastest lap. We felt pretty confident after today. The car felt really good. We had a few laps in traffic at the end, and the car felt even better. We were working hard all day and tried to run by ourselves for most of the day. When I got the fastest lap, it was the only time I had an actual tow. I think it represents the team very good. Looking at the lap times when people were by themselves, we were at the sharp end, definitely in the top three. I think it's a great job by the entire No. 5 Andretti Autosport crew."
GUSTAVO YACAMAN (No. 2 Team Moore Racing): "It was a good test day. We were on top (of the speed charts) for most of the day, but at the end of the day it doesn't matter because last year I was the fastest here, but at the race I was dead last because the car wasn't good on Race Day. Today was good. The car was good in traffic, but we'll see if we're still good come race day."
VICTOR GARCIA (No. 22 Team Moore Racing): "This was my first day at Indy, and I have to say it's awesome. We tried a bunch of things, and we were really quick in the morning. We tried some things behind people and tried to be behind a lot of people to see how the car looked. I finished third, so I'm really happy. I'm looking forward to coming back for the Freedom 100 and the most important race of the season."
CHASE AUSTIN (No. 75 Willy T. Ribbs/Starting Grid/Brooks Associates Racing): "Since I come from stock cars, Indianapolis wasn't a big deal. Daytona was a big thing for me, so I looked at it as just another track. I know it's a big deal and there will be a lot of fans here. It's cool to be a part of this." (What did you learn today?): "Tight, or understeer as they call it here, is not good. That's what we were fighting for most of the day. I learned the line that you need to take to compensate for that and a lot of other things that I can use when I come back for the race. We need to work on the setup. Hopefully when we come back for the race we'll be a little better prepared."
OPEN TEST NOTEBOOK:
Spain's Victor Garcia continues to adapt to ovals very quickly.
The Team Moore Racing driver, who claimed his first Firestone Indy Lights win at Barber Motorsports Park earlier this year, experienced the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time in the Firestone Indy Lights Open Test.
"I like this track a lot," Garcia said. "It is very different from Chicago. Although I was fast there, I didn't like that track as much as here. This is more like a road course with four turns."
Garcia had the third-fastest time of the test and will return to Spain to complete university exams before returning for the Firestone Freedom 100.
Firestone Indy Lights team owner Sam Schmidt and his four drivers for the Firestone Freedom 100 - Victor Carbone, Bryan Clauson, Esteban Guerrieri and Josef Newgarden - met with the media today.
Sam Schmidt Motorsports drivers have dominated the Firestone Freedom 100 since its inception in 2003, winning five of the eight races.
SAM SCHMIDT: "We just have a really strong lineup. They're all pushing each other individually and as a team. That's obviously helped us. It's good." (About the importance of the Firestone Freedom 100 for the team): "We've put a lot of effort into it and are very blessed to have won five of them. It is the Indy 500 for our team even though we have a full-time IndyCar team. Still, it hasn't decreased the emphasis."
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: (About a Tennessee native racing open-wheel cars): "It is really weird. I don't know of any other Tennessee drivers racing open-wheel cars. For me, I've definitely got some flavor to my background. My dad is from New York and my mom is from Denmark. But I was born and raised in Tennessee, a great place to grow up. I had Formula One and INDYCAR and a lot of open-wheel series on TV when I was growing up. That's what I really liked, and that's where they trained me. Not that I don't like NASCAR or any other forms of racing. Racing is racing to all of us. But open-wheel racing I something that really intrigues me. The technology behind it, the sophistication, is really interesting. That's what I want to be involved in, especially with what's going on with the IZOD IndyCar Series right now, with the new chassis they're trying to develop. That innovation again is coming to the front.
ESTEBAN GUERRERI: (About racing on an oval for the first time): "It's definitely a new experience. I've been racing in Europe on some street courses and mainly road courses. For me, it's something to find out about his big it is. I've heard so many good things about this event. I'm really looking forward to it because it's really a special race. It's the start of the oval season, as well. I'm learning a lot of new things. The team has a lot of experience. I'm trying to learn as much as I can and be competitive."
BRYAN CLAUSON: (About feeling pressure for carrying the flag for USAC short-trackers in Firestone Indy Lights and about his first day turning laps at IMS): "It was unbelievable. I've drove around this place and dreamed of being here. There's nothing that will ever describe rolling down the front straightaway for the first time. It was an unbelievable feeling and definitely a lot of nervousness the first few laps. But it was a lot of fun and learned a lot today. Still have a lot of learning to do before we come back in a couple of weeks. I'm really excited about this opportunity. This is something that I've dreamed of for a long time and have been looking forward to since Randy (Bernard) and the league announced they were putting this program together, and I hadn't even won it yet. I was real excited for whomever was going to win it, and I was fortunate enough to win it. It definitely carries a little pressure going back to being one of the first American open-wheel short-track guys to come back through without any road experience. Even though I'm only doing the ovals, it seems like road courses breed Indy-car drivers. So to be one of the first dirt guys to come back through the ranks, that definitely carries a little bit of pressure on me. But that's why we're here. That's why we drive, for the pressure and to come here and do our job."
VICTOR CARBONE: (About first impressions of Indianapolis): "Lots of fun. I've never raced on an oval before, so I'm really looking forward to it, especially being at Indy for my first experience." (Was it harder than it looked?): "I tested before at Phoenix and Vegas, but this place is completely different. I felt pretty good. It's hard to expect something before I go out the first time. I felt pretty good, and I think we'll be all right for the weekend."
IZOD IndyCar Series driver Justin Wilson was on pit lane watching his younger brother Stefan Wilson test…Three-time Firestone Freedom 100 winner Wade Cunningham, who will make his IZOD IndyCar Series debut with Sam Schmidt Motorsports at Texas, was on the spotter stand helping all four of Sam Schmidt Motorsports Firestone Indy Lights drivers…Sam Schmidt hopes to move Victor Carbone from Miami to Indianapolis to be closer to the team in the near future. The 18-year-old is due to graduate from high school later this month.
The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues with the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 on May 29 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at Noon (ET) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM channel 94 and www.indycar.com. The 2011 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Firestone Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 27. The race will be televised live by VERSUS.