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DATE News (chronologically)
02/23/12
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Andretti and Hildebrand endorse Phoenix oval for IndyCar  Just for the record, JR Hildebrand and Marco Andretti aren't lobbying INDYCAR and Phoenix International Raceway officials. But if a few encouraging words can help the IZOD IndyCar Series return to the 1-mile oval in 2013, then they'll talk all day about their recent test sessions.

Andretti, driving the No. 26 Venom Energy Drink car for Andretti Autosport, was on the track Feb. 21-22, while Hildebrand piled up 114 laps in the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car Feb. 22. Both entries are powered by Chevrolet.

Hildebrand, whose Panther Racing evaluation session was conducted at PIR in December 2010, agreed with lead engineer David Cripps and team manager Chris Mower that the recent addition of variable banking would allow for a second racing groove that would produce more passing.

"They've done a great job with the facility at Phoenix, and for IndyCars it could really lend itself to good racing," said the 2011 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, who will return home to the Bay Area this weekend to test at Infineon Raceway. "The track is much smoother; the repaving was really well done. If INDYCAR wants to come back and race here, I'd put my stamp on it.

"The National Guard car handled great and the short oval package on the car was really good. The chassis was very responsive and generally did was we were expecting it to do as we went through a lot of changes. And everything with Chevy is going great."

Added Cripps: "I'd race here tomorrow. No question."

Andretti, who completed more than 250 trips around the oval over the two days, said: "IndyCar needs to come back to Phoenix. The new banking will produce as good if not better racing than Iowa."

He won the race at the 0.875-mile Iowa Speedway last June. INDYCAR is exploring a return to PIR, which last played host to an IZOD IndyCar Series race in 2005, to complement its oval portion of the schedule.

Scheduled to test at Sebring International Raceway Feb. 23-24 were Simona de Silvestro, Oriol Servia, Takuma Sato, Simon Pagenaud, Katherine Legge, Sebastien Bourdais, Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball.
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