IndyCar Likes COTA

First Time’s The Charm

If 11 hours and more than 8,000 miles of on-track testing over two days showed anything, it’s that the NTT IndyCar Series fits in marvelously at the sparkling Circuit of The Americas and the competition will be deep and intense in the 2019 season.

Twenty-five drivers completed 2,367 laps at INDYCAR Spring Training, the only officially mandated testing prior to the NTT IndyCar Series season opener, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 10. Rookie driver Colton Herta surprised many by turning the fastest lap on the 3.41-mile permanent road course and topping the timesheet in three of the four sessions in the No. 88 Harding Steinbrenner Racing Honda.

Savvy veterans were close on Herta’s heels, however, with Alexander Rossi, who led Wednesday’s final session, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power and Simon Pagenaud rounding out the top five on the combined-session speed chart. It left drivers and fans alike itching for the season to begin and the return next month for the INDYCAR Classic on March 24, the first Indy car race hosted by COTA.

“The track is phenomenal,” said Power, the 2014 series champion and reigning Indianapolis 500 winner driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. “I love it, love it, love it! Very technical, obviously a lot of complexes. … Great facilities, all the drivers are stoked to be here.”

Herta, the 2018 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires runner-up who made his NTT IndyCar Series debut for Harding Steinbrenner Racing in last year’s season finale at Sonoma Raceway, set the overall best lap of 1 minute, 46.6258 seconds (115.132 mph) in Tuesday’s afternoon session. The 18-year-old Californian backed it up by leading Wednesday’s practices and running second to Rossi in the afternoon session..

“This track just suits my driving style a lot,” Herta said. “The team has been working really hard to get the car where it needs to be. Obviously, they’ve made really big gains in the winter time compared to last year, and we’re kind of seeing that. Really stout job by the boys.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “We had a big break before the last 45 minutes (of the afternoon test session). We tried a few different things, but I don’t feel like we really got – it kind of just feels really disconnected for me in some portions of the track, quite good in others. I don’t think I did a really good job in piecing together a lap either. It seems like there is something wrong with the suspensions too. That is what we were kind of chasing before. The steering wheel is kinked to the left and then also when it brakes, it brakes funny. We’re trying to figure that as well.”

Tuesday End-To-End








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