Spring Training opened for the IZOD Indy Car Series on a sunny Monday in Sebring, Florida, and like their Major League Baseball brethren practicing nearby, Dale Coyne Racing took advantage of a beautiful Central Florida day to get a ton of preseason work done on the 1.67-mile short course at Sebring International Raceway.
The two-car team put both of its Honda-powered Dallaras through a full day of testing for the first time this year, logging 128 laps around the physical layout in preparation for the March 25 Indy Car season opener on the street circuit in nearby St. Petersburg.
Veteran Justin Wilson (#18 Sonny’s BBQ Dallara/Honda/Firestone) turned a best lap of 53.1770 seconds (113.056 mph) on a day that saw him complete 59 trips around the Sebring course. He was closely followed by teammate James Jakes (#19 Boy Scouts of America Dallara/Honda/Firestone), who carded a best time of 53.9260 seconds (111.486 mph) over his 69 laps.
“I think it's been a good day, we've learned a lot of things, made a lot of changes and we made some good gains on the car,” Wilson said. “You have to remember, we are still in the very early stages with this car and there is a lot left to do in order to get where we want to be.”
James Jakes in the Boy Scouts of America Car
Jakes put in his first full day of preparation for his sophomore Indy Car campaign, and battled through not only having to learn the new DW12 chassis and the turbocharged Honda powerplant, he also had to learn the nuances of the Sebring short circuit in his first trip to the site of the famed 12 Hours of Sebring sportscar race.
“It was a full day of learning for me because this was my first time at Sebring and my first whole day in the car but I think we learned a lot,” Jakes said. “Considering that this was our first full day in the car, I think we had a pretty good effort. We really just needed to get some miles on the car today and it really felt good. The Dale Coyne Racing guys did a great job with the car and I expect that we will have another one tomorrow.”
The DCR crew will put in another full day of with the new cars tomorrow at Sebring before heading to Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama for more testing prior to the 2012 IZOD Indy Car Series season opener. For Wilson, tomorrow will be another opportunity to learn about his new mount as he looks to move toward the front of the grid.
“This car drives very differently than any other car I have ever driven,” Wilson said. “It has a lot of downforce so if you get the balance right, you can really carry a lot of speed through the corners, but since we are so new to the car, we are still trying to figure out how the changes affect the car in every situation. But that is why we are here, we are getting great support from Honda and Firestone and we are getting better with every lap.”
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