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IndyCar drivers test at Barber UPDATE
Simona gets her first test with KV Racing
Scott Morris/AR1.com
AR1's Scott Morris filed this additional report from testing at Barber Monday - We were casually timing various cars with a stopwatch and were seeing laps in the low 1:11 and high 1:10's, but obviously that is only catching a few laps at a time among three drivers at a time, and not knowing what they were working on. But we did notice that Simona had the fastest time of the ones we happened to catch, clocking a 1:10.65, which is on a tick off of Helio Castroneves qualifying time for the 2012 race. However, the cold temperatures make a bit more horsepower on a turbocharged engine. But its obvious she was quick right off the bat.

Dario made some comments on camera to the Birmingham News when asked how he felt about Randy Bernard. He said that his resignation - if you want to call it that - is unfortunate. But that the drivers or anyone on the track side just wants to know what the plan is...which is not an exact quote because it was really windy and I got nothing but wind noise on my recorder.

In talking to various people around the track throughout the day, we got similar reactions from most everyone. An amalgamated quote from various people around the track today...

"I think it's bull---t, and we had a good guy in there who took the series in a positive direction and turned it around from a money pit. I have never seen someone that knew nothing about the sport absorb so much so fast, and he just got it. That impressed me from day one. The racing was better last year than it has ever been. We had an American win the championship and did a hell of a job in the process. Everything has places you can improve, and issues to address, but this series is pointed in the right direction. Even the TV deal has started to turn in the right direction with NBC getting the F1 deal too, which will be good for us also. I think Roger said it well, that we cannot expect to maintain consistency in the series if we don’t have consistency in the leadership. Let's just hope they get it sorted out and we have direction and a plan to execute, or we are going to backwards, right when we have most of it right."

Justin Wilson and I were chatting about the current car being challenging to setup, and I asked him how he feels about the notion that a fickle race car can make for good racing. He made an interesting face and said "Well, that's a tough one. Perhaps. But I think the tire Firestone gave us this past season was the biggest thing. Consistent, good grip, and very little marbling offline. That helps a lot for sure."

The mood in the pit lane seemed business as usual except for the couple of comments. The teams are just doing what they do and developing the car.

Dario had an exceptionally good day and seemed pleased with the day, especially since he didn't crash. Last year when we were here, he had a couple of incidents in the morning, and was obviously very upset. But today, he seemed positive getting out of the car each time and at the end of the day was trading notes with Charlie Kimball with smiles and whatnot. So a much better test at Barber for Dario.

The weather was chilly and very windy, but sunny and picturesque with the fall colors just starting to peak. I didn’t notice the temp on my phone get above 42 today in mid-day, though the weatherman said it hit 51F The wind made it even more of a chill. It seems we always have delightful weather, until the IndyCar people show up! But the drivers said the cool temps makes a lot more horsepower with the turbo cars and the tires come up to temp just fine, especially in the afternoon as the track absorbs some sun and heat. Scott Morris reporting from Barber

10/29/12 They call it testing but it's really studying for the next test.  AR1 sent one of our staff to Barber to check out the test day. We have the first spy photos of Simona deSilvestro in a KV Racing IndyCar with Chevrolet power. We can say that she had a smile on her face so big, she almost couldn’t pull off her helmet! 

“It was a lot of fun, especially here at Barber where there’s a lot of elevation and you can go up the hill pretty quick and don’t have to push it like last year,” she said. “The Chevy engine is pretty awesome. I learned a lot today and I think it was just a lot of fun to get back in a real race car.

“Today I really felt like a little kid and had so much fun,” she said. “You push the car and know a lap time was going to come out of it. Last year, we never had that. You’d drive the wheels off the car and you’d still be 20th. That’s a big confidence boost. Today, I just took it all in. It was like it was the first time I ever drove an Indy car.

“I think we can be happy with our speed today,” she remarked. “With the setup we had, I think we can do more to make it how I like it, but it was very good. Tony did a lot of work on dampers and it really feels like a lot of progress is already being made in just one day.”

Five IZOD IndyCar Series drivers made their way to Barber Motorsports Park today for practice runs on the winding track.

Chip Ganassi Racing had Target car drivers Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti, and NovoNordisk driver Charlie Kimball. Also here were Simona de Silvestro in her first seat time with KV Racing Technology and Justin Wilson of Dale Coyne Racing.

Each was looking for a nugget of information that will help him when he faces Barber's turns when they return here in 2013. zzzz

Dario Franchitti said he's had his troubles negotiating the course on his past few visits.

"I've struggled in my last couple of visits to Barber," he said. "Hopefully I learned some stuff."

The key, he said, is finding a compromise.

Simona de Silvestro
Scott Morris/AR1.com
"The car wants to do different things in different order," Franchitti said.

I've struggled in my last couple of visits to Barber. Hopefully I learned some stuff. Dario Franchitti Wilson called this a critical time of year if he hopes to come back stronger next year.

"This was our worst track in 2012," he said. "We had a disastrous race. The cars were a real handful so we wanted to come back here and see what we've learned throughout the season, see what we can try to improve and get a good base line set up before we come back for the 2013 race."

Wilson said he spent the day tweaking the base setup of his car, trying to get better balance.

"In the race itself, I was really loose and sideways in the corners," he recalled. "We're just trying to fix that and get it where we have more speed. It's quite a bit different to what we've started here eight months ago.

"It's just one step at a time," Wilson continued. "Hopefully we can get to the pace that the front guys are running. I think we can get there."

Franchitti and Wilson agreed that Barber is a challenging course. Each also said he appreciates the feel of this venue.

"I always enjoy coming to Barber Motorsports Park," Wilson said. "It's so well maintained. It's a great track to drive. I really enjoy it. It's a very difficult track to drive, especially in an IndyCar with the speed so high."

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