IZOD IndyCar Series competitors Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud along with two-time USAC National Driver's Champion Bryan Clauson successfully completed IZOD IndyCar Series oval rookie testing at Texas Motor Speedway on Thursday. The trio was cleared to compete in all oval events by IndyCar race director Beaux Barfield, who supervised the test.
“I knew that Josef and Simon would get up to speed quickly, and they did, but Bryan was equally as impressive,” Barfield said. “He was on pace and consistent throughout the day. All three drivers were comfortable and worked the various lines and setups. It was a productive day for all three, even though it was technically a rookie test.”
Unlike the Indianapolis 500, where rookies traditionally pass through four speed phases, Barfield allowed the Schmidt-Hamilton and Sarah Fisher Hartman teams to run their own testing plans and observed how the rookie drivers worked with their teams on and off the track.
“I enjoyed my first oval experience," Pagenaud said. "I was running by myself, so it's a lot easier than running in a pack, but I'm really comfortable and the engineers did a great job making me feel comfortable. This test is all about understanding how the car feels on the oval and getting experience ahead of the Indianapolis 500. I'm just learning. I'm very excited. I've started on the right foot.”
Pagenaud had more than 100 laps of testing on the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval. Newgarden, who has oval experience in Firestone Indy Lights, turned his first laps at Texas.
“We're just trying to get our time in so we're prepared when we come back in June,” Newgarden said of the Firestone 550. “It's our first laps with the new car on ovals. It's interesting to get the car to work on the high line here. It's a fun challenge to get the car to work right around here. You have to get your car working in all lanes, and not just one of them.”
Clauson joined the pair in a car prepared by Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing.
“It feels great to finally get to strap into a 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series car,” Clauson said. “We had a great afternoon of testing with the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing boys and it feels good to get step one of the Indianapolis 500 process complete.”