The four full-time rookies running the IZOD IndyCar Series will get a head start on the series' switch to oval tracks via a special test at Kansas Speedway on Friday, ahead of the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at the track on Saturday, May 1.
HVM Racing's Simona De Silvestro, Takuma Sato of KV Racing Technology and Mario Romancini and Bertrand Baguette of Conquest Racing will participate in the test on the 1.5-mile oval. Series technical director Kevin Blanch and race veteran Ed Carpenter will observe the rookies, who will have a list of items to practice.
In addition to the oval novices, the 27-car entry at Kansas includes Jay Howard of Sarah Fisher Racing, and John Andretti, driving the No. 43 Team Window World entry for Richard Petty/Andretti Autosport. Howard, Luczo Dragon Racing/de Ferran Motorsports' Raphael Matos, and Team Penske's Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe will test at the track on Wednesday, while Andretti will have a refresher test at Kansas on Thursday, joined by KV's E.J. Viso and Mario Moraes, and Dan Wheldon (Panther Racing). The three days of testing are closed to spectators.
De Silvestro, driving the No. 78 Team Stargate Worlds/HVM Racing car, already has led laps this season (Brazil), has run in the top 10 consistently and – given a little more luck – would have finished in the top 10. The 21-year-old Switzerland native is looking forward to her first oval experience. "I am constantly learning and will use that knowledge as I compete in many other races," she said.
"You want to see if they're reasonable in their speed and consistent with their line," Blanch said of the rookies. "What I always tell them is that I'm not interested in how fast you go necessarily; you just need to be consistent. Whatever you do, do it every time.
"The first three-fourths of the day they need to go out and learn to be consistent. Get back up to speed where you just left off. If you were running 205s, and you came in and the team made a change, you need to go back out and run 205. Work on pit stops. Work on entering pit lane the right way and getting back on the racetrack the right way.
"Toward the end of day they need to be somewhere near where the (other veteran drivers) have been running. There's no pressure. It's not real intense. We want them to get familiar with the car, so when we come back and there are 26 others out there with them they're not worried about moving the roll bars or the pit speed rev limiter. They've been down that road so it's really just about them and the racetrack."