Tuesday's second day of running at Sebring provided IZOD IndyCar Series teams and drivers a further opportunity to learn and sort out the new Dallara chassis.
Will Power got his first extended 2012 running in, replacing Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves in Chevrolet's test car, while their third teammate Ryan Briscoe continued on for some of the day in Power's normal Verizon-backed entry.
“Good afternoon testing, getting used to the new car,” Power said in a tweet. “This car is a bit of a handful!”
Power's one-time Champ Car teammate Simon Pagenaud was also in action over the two days in Sam Schmidt's Honda.
“It was an interesting test at Sebring, but the new IndyCar is showing good potential,” Pagenaud said. “We got some good info to prepare for the next test!”
Fellow Honda runner Graham Rahal had his first opportunity in the new DW12 – the last of Chip Ganassi Racing's four drivers to sample the new car. Rahal took over from Scott Dixon in Dario Franchitti's usual Target-backed car and seemed rather pleased by his first impression.
“Awesome day of testing – I love the new IndyCar,” Rahal opined. “It's nice to drive and for once I fit comfortably and safely! The brakes are awesome!”
Panther Racing's JR Hildebrand expanded on the brakes – new from Brembo this year – and the feel and balance of the car after two days. The 2011 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year completed roughly 140 laps in two days.
“From a driving perspective, getting a handle on the carbon brakes is definitely a task,” he said. “In the end, the braking performance will be better. It takes a long time to play with them and see how you use them.”
Hildebrand added that the feel of the car is better through the corners, with the higher amount of rear weight distribution not nearly as big an issue as it is on an oval. Hildebrand tested at Homestead-Miami Speedway's oval in November.
“With the old car, you had chronic understeer everywhere you went,” he explained. “The front really gave up. With this car, the weight distribution almost helps the car turn through the corner a lot better. The front gives you more feedback on turn-in.
“The Chevy guys have done a good job at sorting the ramp up from the throttle pedal so there's almost no turbo lag,” he added. “It kicks in more heavily out of the corner, all at once. It does catch up with you a little bit on full throttle.”
More private tests will continue throughout the month, with Briscoe saying his next planned test will be at Sonoma's Infineon Raceway Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, and Hildebrand estimating his will be either there or Sebring again.
“We may just follow the herd,” he joked.