Sebring raceway ideal classroom for IndyCar teams
Allen Moody | Highlands TodaySEBRING INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY - A number of IndyCar teams were enjoying the Florida sunshine on Tuesday, as many teams were taking part in some pre-season testing. Twelve drivers took the track and A.J. Foyt Racing's Takuma Sato turned in the fastest lap of the day, completing a lap around the 1.7-mile course in 51.947 seconds — the only driver to break the 52-second barrier.
Published: February 21, 2013
Published: February 21, 2013
Still, times weren't all that much of a consideration for most of the teams, who are still trying to work out some last-minute bugs before the official start of the IZOD IndyCar Series in St. Petersburg on March 24.
"We're not too worried about lap time here, we don't race here," said driver Tony Kanaan. "We just worry about the quality of the test, we're not worried about who is first and who is last."
Kanaan's teammate with KV Racing — Simona de Silvestro — spent plenty of hours preparing for Sebring by testing on the Dallara simulator in Italy, but said there's nothing like being behind the wheel of the real thing.
"As a driver, the simulator is going to be a little tougher," she said. "You don't have all the sensations that you get in the car. Engineering-wise, I think it can be a pretty good tool and it gives you a chance to make changes pretty quickly, but it's always more fun to be on the real racetrack."
KV Racing — like most of the teams — came to Sebring with lists of different things to try with the car.
"If you have to go through some things and get them out of the way, I think it's a good track to do that," she said. "The track is pretty fast."
IndyCar teams switched to different chassis and saw engines changes for last year, and Penske Racing driver Will Power said things are a lot more sorted out this year, not just for Penske, but for every team.
"I love getting behind the wheel, especially at this place," Power said. "It has a lot of grip, but it's so gripped-up it's hard to learn something for St. Pete. We just try things to understand how the car reacts."
Power — who has been runner-up in the series for three consecutive seasons — was hopeful this would be the year he would cease to be the bridesmaid.
"I just need to move up three or four points in a season and I'll probably win a championship," he said. "I just hope nobody does the same."
Kanaan said there has been a lot of talk about IndyCar being in a downward cycle, although he didn't necessarily agree.
"I don't think the series is in trouble like people say it is," he said. "We're going to have to make changes along the way, like everybody does."
Where Kanaan believes IndyCar needs to expand is its foundation of fans.
"We have to make more people aware," he said. "It's been too long where we've kept the same fan base and didn't grow. We need to go get the kids who are go-karting and have them say they want to be an IndyCar driver."
Kanaan said the series needs to do a better job of promoting itself and what it has to offer.
"If we're in trouble, we're in trouble because we need more marketing," he said. "It's not because the series needs to make anything else better. The racing is good, the product is good and the drivers have personality. We don't fistfight, but we do argue a lot."