The bad weather that delayed the start of practice for this weekend's Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway is just what IndyCar's oval rookies, like Team Stargate Worlds/HVM Racing's Simona De Silvestro, didn't need. The 21-year-old, who has shown competitiveness this year on the road and street courses, has her oval racing baptism this weekend and is hopeful that the progress that she has thus far, combined with her brief test run at Kansas earlier this week, will put her in good shape to tackle the 1.5-mile speedway.
As part of an all-rookie oval test day, which was originally scheduled for last week but was postponed due to rain, the Wednesday session was designed to allow this year's crop of rookie drivers to become acclimated to oval track racing and begin to hone their oval racing skills. Despite gusty wind conditions, De Silvestro completed 85 incident-free laps with her No. 78 Stargate Resistance Dallara-Honda.
“My oval rookie test went very well, and although it was scary at first, I soon began to get comfortable and eventually enjoyed being out there,” said De Silvestro. “Obviously, racing on an oval is new to me, so I will definitely use the opportunity to learn as much as I can, which I already started doing with the test. With each session I was able to learn more about the car – its capabilities and its limits – and I'll gain more knowledge during the race. The goal for this weekend is to finish.”
HVM Racing team principal Keith Wiggins acknowledged that he was managing the team's expectations. “We are very aware of Simona's lack of experience on the ovals,” he said. “We have set ourselves with reasonable expectations and I'm confident in her ability to get comfortable and build toward the Indy 500.”