‘What They’re Saying’ from the Phoenix Promoter Test Day 2

Following Saturday's first session in the Verizon IndyCar Series Phoenix Promoter "Test in the West," 16 of 21 drivers had posted times that bested the Phoenix International Raceway track record of 19.608 seconds (183.599 mph) set by Arie Luyendyk in 1996. Simon Pagenaud, driving the No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet, recorded the fastest time at 19.298 seconds (190.747 mph). Select quotes from drivers participating in the test and Andretti Autosport rookie (not testing) Alexander Rossi follow.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet): "So far it's been good. We came here and tested before, so yesterday was a really good day for us for what we wanted to do. Today we had a couple… did a little bit of qualifying simulations, nothing too extreme. Just figured out an idea of what we need to do. I think it's going to be interesting because NASCAR is going to be here about two weeks before we race, two, three weeks, so I think it's going to change the track a lot with all that rubber they're going to lay down and everything, so we'll see how the track changes."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Andretti Autosport Honda): "I felt really good with my car in traffic, especially on the first of two group runs that we did. The thing is around this place, it's just like Iowa a couple years ago, everybody in practice couldn't pass, and then in the heat races that we had, nobody could pass. But you have to get beyond lap 20 to really start mixing it up. That's when the tires start to fall off a bit, that's when the handling care sticks of each different car is magnified, and that's when the difference is going to be made, and also we're going to be hitting traffic here, so lap traffic or whatever it may be, different strategies, that's when the racing is really going to get hot around here.

Other than that you're not going to have one IndyCar drive around another one just in a straight line, just coming out of a corner or something like that. You need to be interacting with other cars in dirty air."

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): (On if the track is extremely physical) "Yeah, I mean, to me it's not — it's interesting, it's got characteristics of Iowa and Milwaukee to me. I think it's a little easier than Iowa, but it's still damned tough. I'm not trying to make it sound easy, it's not, it's really difficult. But maybe just a little — it's different than Iowa. Iowa you sustain the loading for longer than here. You know, there's — I think you reach about the same peak loading as Iowa in Turns 1 and 2, but it's more crimped and you get in and out of it quicker so it's not as sustained, and 3 and 4 is more open than Iowa and not quite as banked."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda):
"Yeah, it's good. It's been a lot of fun to be out here, and cars obviously very quick around this place. You know, really our first session today just totally focused on a couple qualifying simulations. We didn't run a ton, but I think from what I've seen so far, we're the fastest Honda on the no toes, obviously Marco with the toe got us there right at the end of the session, but I think we're close."

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Team Hydroxycut- KVSH Racing Chevrolet): "Yeah, it's great that we can finally make that an official news, but we've been working towards 2016. Sully has been working really, really hard with all his partners and Jimmy and Kevin to make this happen, and I think people underestimate how challenging it is to find a budget to run these kind of programs, but we did put it together, and although it may be a bit late, we're still in pretty good shape and building off of two strong years.

Obviously we're just thinking to just take it to the next step. There's a lot of potential. We've got a really good relationship with Olivier and myself and a lot of very good guys on the team, and just really excited about the prospects for '16. There's no hard way to it. I think the aim is to just always do the best we can. When we can win the race, we'll win the race. When we've got to take a podium, we'll take a podium, and when it's just a top 5 or top 10, we'll do the same. This series is all about consistency and being committed to the effort of the program, and I think this year being able to really focus everything on one car and not get any distraction is a big help. I'm definitely looking forward to it and thankful to Hydroxy for coming back with us."

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 Andretti Autosport Honda): "Yeah, I'm very excited to be here and to have the opportunity to participate, especially with a team with so much pedigree as Andretti, and I'm really looking forward to getting in the car for the first time, as you said. I'm here kind of in an observatory role. I've never been to an oval before, never driven an oval, and obviously never driven the car. I'm just trying to learn as much as I can and get to know the people and how they work and operate. It's a little bit different than what I'm used to, so it's good to have an idea before I get in the car for the first time."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Teams Chevrolet) : "We tried a few different things today in the afternoon session. We trimmed the car out a bit and did a few qualifying simulations but didn't quite get things where we wanted them. Overall the Target car is fast though and we're pretty happy with where we are at."

TONY KANAAN (No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing Teams Chevrolet): "We spent most of the first session working on qualifying runs and then the team switched the car over to the race setup to get ready for tonight's session. The car has felt pretty good most of the weekend and it's been a lot of fun getting back into the swing of things here at Phoenix. We're looking forward to getting back out tonight for the night session and working through a few more things to make sure we're ready to go for the race in April."

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Chip Ganassi Racing Teams Chevrolet): "Overall it's been great to be back at Phoenix International Raceway. The fan turn out today for the free Saturday was awesome – it's really great to see the excitement for the Verizon IndyCar Series coming back to race here. We made some progress over the last few days on the No. 83 and we've really learned a lot. We'll take what we can from our teammates as well and focus on coming back prepared and ready to go racing in April."

MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Chip Ganassi Racing Teams Chevrolet): "Today we didn't do a lot of running but it was still productive. We're doing things the way there are supposed to be done. We are slowly making changes and improving the car. We're focused on maximizing the time we have in the car today to make sure I'm feeling comfortable."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): "Unfortunately we didn't have time to practice the Hitachi car. We had a mechanical failure and we are fixing for the afternoon. We're going to go back and keep working on the No. 3 machine."

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chevrolet): "It's been good. We've been working on the Hewlett Packard Enterprise car pretty well. We've been doing race stuff all day and the times have improved so I feel very comfortable in every condition now. We managed to get a snapshot of what qualifying would be like this time of the day. The car was fast. So far so good. Chevrolet has done a great job with the aero package and the engine, so we are just scratching the surface, but so far it's gone pretty good."

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): "Second day of testing, we're finding some good stuff for the race. We seem a little bit slower than competitors right now but we're just new with the kit and everything still figuring that out. Tonight we will be able to just focus on the race running so we will see how we are but I think we still need to work to be in the top.

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda): "So far so good. The main focus right now is to really get a race car underneath us. There are pretty staggering speeds by some of the guys which is fun, but it is definitely crazy. On a one-mile oval, 200 mph, 190-something average… It's good fun. It seems to just be getting quicker and quicker. Tonight might even be quicker yet so we'll just keep going out and seeing how much we can wring the thing out, but the main priority is getting a race car set up.

CONOR DALY (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): "I'm feeling good with how things went. We're just working away. We're a couple of days behind other teams that have tested here, which is to be expected. Information is very important. They have some and we have a little bit less. It's just about working through that, getting used to the track, getting used to everything. It's all new for both Luca and I here. I'm happy with what we're doing, it would have been nice maybe to have a few more sets of tires to run some things but it is what it is. I'm just happy to continue working and that's the thing that we have to do. It doesn't matter where we are on the time sheet right now, there's no winning here, it's one of those things that we're happy with what we're doing.

Running in traffic, at night, is pretty hectic. Cars are lively, that's for sure. We could probably use a little bit more downforce in traffic in a race situation but it's fun, as well. It's cool to experience this because it's new for me. It's going to be a challenge but we just need to keep working on our car in traffic and by ourselves as well and see what happens."

LUCA FILIPPI (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): "Today, I felt more confident and we had a solid session. We had more things to try and also myself, I'm also learning, especially in traffic. So far I'm enjoying it.

It was nice to have two days of testing here because every time you learn something new it's always good to sleep on it and the day after it's already more conventional and everything comes a little more automatic, maybe not as much as I'd like but I'm still happy and positive. I definitely feel that we are going in the right direction."

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