AJ Allmendinger says that he still has a lot of work to do to feel comfortable on ovals after taking part in the rookie IndyCar oval test at Texas last week.
Allmendinger, who will race a third Penske entry at Barber and Indianapolis, participated in the informal test as part of his preparation for the formal rookie evaluation next month. While he has some oval experience from his days in Champ Car, he said that the Texas test still represented the beginning of a re-acclimatization process.
"Just like any test right in an IndyCar now for me, it's about getting comfortable," he said. "It all feels like I'm a fish out of water, trying to figure out how to get around. People assume back when I raced Champ Cars I did a lot of ovals, but I really only did Milwaukee, so this is brand-new for me.
"It's a lot different (from a stock car to drive around Texas). A little track knowledge (helps), and all these mile-and-a-half tracks a little different – they have their own character – so it's good to know, but it's still different.
"Obviously, me being here is about going to Indy and being comfortable in an IndyCar around a fast racetrack like this. There's a lot of work to do yet."
For Schmidt Peterson Motorsport driver Tristan Vautier, the Texas test was his first experience of an IndyCar on an oval. The rookie admitted he also needs to get up to speed.
"Everything happens to you faster, but I think it feels that way when it's your first time in a new car on a new track until your brain gets used to it," said Vautier. "There's lots of grip and you can really feel the compression in the corners, and with the wind it was pretty tricky. The car can react differently from lap to lap in the way it moves around. It might be even trickier in June when we come back, because it will be significantly warmer.
"The challenge coming back here will be all the things you have to do with other people on the track. Everything will be happening very fast on this big oval."