|No test times were provided. IndyCar does not think fans care about test times.|
With only four races remaining on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule, teams are trying to find that little extra something to help them finish the season strong.
That is why 15 drivers from six teams were at Pocono Raceway on Thursday, taking part in a test session ahead of the ABC Supply 500 at the 2.5-mile triangular track Aug. 20-21.
"It's nice to be able to come out and test, put a flag in the ground, get a foundation and baseline so that when we come back race weekend, we can focus on fine-tuning what we need to do to be better on race day," Charlie Kimball, driver of the No. 83 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, said.
Nearly every driver used the words "challenging" and "compromise" to describe Pocono with its three different corners.
Ryan Hunter-Reay, driver of the No. 28 Honda for Andretti Autosport, said the key is to have a car that is good in both turns 1 and 3. Teams work on trying to find that balance during the test session.
"It wreaks setup havoc on the engineers trying to get a middle ground because you're always compromising one way or the other," said Hunter-Reay, who is the defending race champion. "When your car's good in one, you're lacking something in three. Good in three, you're lacking something in one. So it's always a compromise. Trying to find that winning compromise is the challenge."
Josef Newgarden, driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing, said the test session allows you to try different things that you simply do not have time to do during a normal race weekend.
|Verizon IndyCar Series teams and drivers scheduled to participate at an Indy Speedway test on Monday: Andretti Autosport: Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi; Chip Ganassi Racing: Scott Dixon; Ed Carpenter Racing: Ed Carpenter; Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing: Graham Rahal; Team Penske: Juan Pablo Montoya.|
"It's a lot more relaxed day," Newgarden said. "You can get through a lot more changes and work on those things. Then when you show up (race weekend), you know what you want for qualifying, you know what you want for the race."
One team that wasn't on hand for the test session was Team Penske. Its drivers — Simon Pagenaud, Will Power and Helio Castroneves — rank 1-2-3, respectively, in the point standings. Pagenaud (4) and Power (3) have combined to win seven of the 12 races thus far.
Ganassi teammates Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon are tied for fifth in the standings, 127 points behind Pagenaud. Kanaan hoped to use the Pocono test to gain an edge that would keep him in the title hunt.
"It's extremely important," said Kanaan, driver of the No. 10 Chevrolet. "You think about the championship is coming to the wire. The way the Penske guys are running, either Scott or I need to win this race. If we don't, you can almost count yourself out of the championship."
Thursday's test also allowed rookie drivers Max Chilton, Conor Daly and Indianapolis 500 champion Alexander Rossi to get their first look at Pocono.
Chilton, driver of the No. 8 Chevrolet for Ganassi Racing who raced Formula One from 2012-14, called the track daunting.
"This is my first time here and it's unlike no other place I've been," Chilton said. "I thought Indy was difficult and then you come here."
Perhaps Graham Rahal, driver of the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda, summed up the test session best.
"Any day, any lap you can get around this place, trust me, is good because you're always learning something," Rahal said.
Quite a number of fans took advantage of the free admission to watch the test session.
Practice and qualifying for the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway is Aug. 20. The race is scheduled for Aug. 21 at 3 p.m. Visit www.poconoraceway.com for ticket information. Scott Walsh/Times Tribune