Juncos Racing Paces Indy Lights Oval Test

Spencer Pigot

The first official Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires oval test concluded yesterday to rave reviews on the 1.485-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway circuit. Eleven drivers combined for a total of 1200 incident-free laps aboard the new Mazda-powered Dallara IL-15 as teams worked on initial setups in preparation for three oval races on the 2015 schedule. Despite three oval racing novices, the field was covered by just nine-tenths of a second.

"It was a good oval test day; all were pretty well behaved," noted Tony Cotman, Indy Lights Race Director and Dallara IL-15 project manager. "I'm sure there are a few surprises on the timesheet but that's what we like. It's interesting to watch teams approaching things from different perspectives. The speeds were quick especially considering how much downforce teams were running. Running in traffic and race craft is a totally different challenge so there's a whole lot more to learn. Hopefully they are tuned up for the next oval test at Chicagoland [May 14]."

Kyle Kaiser

Juncos Racing rookies Kyle Kaiser and Spencer Pigot posted the quickest times of the test. Kaiser, 18, of Santa Clara, Calif., notched a best lap of 188.851 mph (28.3081 seconds) narrowly missing the lap record set by the late Paul Dana of 189.745 mph (28.1746) in 2004 by 0.1335 seconds.

"Today was a nice way to finish the week of testing," said Kaiser, a Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires graduate who was also quickest at the Palm Beach International Raceway test earlier in the month. "The team continues to demonstrate their ability to adapt to this new car. It's still early and there is a lot of work ahead, but we are making steady progress. It was my first time driving on an oval at this speed and the team gave me the perfect car to make the transition seamless. I'm looking forward to NOLA in a few weeks to continue our development."

Pigot, 21, of Indianapolis, Ind., was just over a tenth off Kaiser's time with a best lap of 187.852 mph (28.4585 seconds).

"We had a really productive week of testing at Homestead," added Pigot, the 2014 Pro Mazda champion. "We had lots of things we wanted to try both on the road course and the oval. The car was great on both tracks and I can't wait to get back in it and continue our test program."

Scott Anderson of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports ended the day third quickest with a lap of 187.833 mph (28.4615 seconds) followed by Belardi Auto Racing teammates Juan Piedrahita (187.710 mph = 28.4801) – who was at the top of the timesheets most of the day – and Felix Serralles (187.007 mph = 28.5871).

"The team gave me an awesome car today; it was very fast and very secure," said Piedrahita. "The Dallara IL-15 handles very well on the oval and I can't wait to drive it again. I'm very pleased with my team and I am sure we will have a great year."

Andretti Autosport's Shelby Blackstock, who impressed in road course testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway earlier in the week with the second fastest time, claimed sixth on the charts (186.136 mph = 28.7210) followed by RC Enerson of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, a graduate of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, with a lap of 185.373 mph (28.8392).

Oval newcomers Ed Jones (185.155 mph = 28.8731) and Max Chilton (184.757 mph = 28.9353) of Carlin and Ethan Ringel (182.653 mph = 29.2686) of Schmidt Peterson – who declared "ovals are officially my new favorite thing" – were separated by Indy Lights vice champion Jack Harvey (184.792 mph = 28.9298), who is doing the bulk of the heavy-lifting development work for Schmidt Peterson.

The next series tests, in conjunction with the Cooper Tires Winterfest for Pro Mazda and USF2000, will take place at NOLA Motorsports Park on February 18/19 and Barber Motorsports Park on February 24/25.

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