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IndyCar drivers hit track for preseason testing
After completing more than 300 laps of the Sebring International Raceway short course in the Dallara Automobili simulator last week in Italy, Simona de Silvestro is eager to lay some rubber on the 1.7-mile circuit Feb. 19 during KV Racing Technology's initial on-track session of the year.

"What we saw from two days in the simulator I think it would be good to try some things and see how realistic it is compared to the real track," said de Silvestro, who participated in two get-acquainted test sessions with her new team late last fall.

De Silvestro, 24, enters her fourth IZOD IndyCar Series season, but her first with a teammate in 2004 series champion Tony Kanaan.

"It's really exciting and going to Sebring will feel like the start of the season because we'll have a lot of testing in the next four weeks," said de Silvestro, who on March 4-5 will greet attendees of the Geneva International Motor Show in her native Switzerland at the GM Spark EV display. "It's good to get back into the rhythm and start working.

"The team has been working hard to line up all the changes we want to try. I think we'll be pretty busy."

The season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is March 22-24. Assembling the 1.8-mile street circuit for the ninth annual IZOD IndyCar Series event commenced Feb. 15.

Other Chevrolet teams participating Feb. 19:

Team Penske - Helio Castroneves, Will Power and AJ Allmendinger

Panther Dreyer & Reinbold Racing - Oriol Servia

Also scheduled to participate Feb. 19 as part of a Honda manufacturer test:

Target Chip Ganassi Racing - Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti

Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing - Charlie Kimball

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing - Graham Rahal

Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian - Alex Tagliani

Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing - Josef Newgarden

A.J. Foyt Racing - Takuma Sato

Dale Coyne Racing - Justin Wilson

James Jakes, who was recently announced to drive the No. 30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-prepared car for the full season, will attend the test along with Mike Conway (announced to drive for the team at Long Beach) but not drive.

Recently announced Tristan Vautier (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports) and E.J. Viso (Andretti Autosport) will get their initial seat time with their new teams Feb. 20 at Sebring. The three other Andretti Autosport drivers (reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and James Hinchcliffe) also will put in a day's work.

Sebastian Saavedra and Sebastien Bourdais will share time behind the wheel of a Chevrolet-powered Dragon Racing car Feb. 18 at Sebring.

Allmendinger, who recorded five victories in the 2006 Champ Car season and finished behind champion Bourdais and Wilson in the standings, also will participate in the first IZOD IndyCar Series Open Test.

Penske Racing president Tim Cindric said that Allmendinger, who had competed in stock car racing the past six years, could compete in a third Team Penske car in select races this season. Upon completing NASCAR's Road to Recovery program after failing a drug test in June, Allmendinger was reinstated Sept. 18. He is in good standing with INDYCAR.

De Silvestro, Kanaan, Vautier, Servia, Bourdais and Saavedra also will test the following week at Sonoma Raceway, where they'll join Ed Carpenter (Ed Carpenter Racing), Simon Pagenaud (Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports) and JR Hildebrand (Panther Racing). The all-day session Feb. 27 is open to the public and free.

"This week is the calm before the storm," de Silvestro said. "I'm excited to get back behind the wheel and think we're going to have a great start to the season."

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