LEXINGTON, Ohio -- James Davison, in a race-worn firesuit and Ryan Briscoe’s helmet at his feet, stretched on pit lane and allowed a strained smile before climbing into the No. 18 Sonny’s Bar-B-Q car at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The 26-year-old Australian, who won Firestone Indy Lights races on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn course in 2008 and ’09 and tested June 25 in the Dale Coyne Racing car, participated in an IZOD IndyCar Series Open Test ahead of the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.
It will be his series debut.
“It’s the day I’ve worked for my entire life and to see my name on the timing charts with all these superstars is a pretty cool feeling,” said Davison, who logged 39 laps on the day that got a late start because of showers. “Today is a head start on (practice) Friday. I’ve had limited track time and it’s good to see that (teammate) Justin (Wilson) is running well so we can learn from his car.
“I think I’ll have enough time Friday and Saturday before qualifying to get fully up to speed.”
Click it: Mid-Ohio Open Test results
Ryan Hunter-Reay topped the time chart with a best lap of 1 minute, 05.6358 seconds on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn course in the No. 1 DHL car for Andretti Autosport. Simon Pagenaud (1:05.7965) was second in the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports car, while 2012 pole sitter Will Power (1:05.8206) was third in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car. Luca Filippi, testing an IZOD IndyCar Series car for the first time, turned 56 laps for Barracuda Racing.
Davison, who was the Firestone Indy Lights championship runner-up in 2009 and has competed in sports cars the past few years, was understandably uneasy before joining 23 other drivers on the road course. He has a lot riding on the weekend.
“Since I have a one-race deal and I’ve been out of the open-wheel seat for going on four years it does add pressure because what I do this week with this opportunity can certainly shape my career,” said Davison, who is borrowing fellow Aussie Briscoe’s helmet because he doesn’t have the version mandated by INDYCAR for 2013. “It does put some pressure on me but I use that to get the most out of myself.
“Result equals happiness and if I feel like I get the most out of myself you go into the weekend with confidence.”
A 45-minute practice is scheduled for 11 a.m. (ET) Aug. 2 to kick off the weekend that features the 90-lap race Aug. 4.
Click it: Hunter-Reay aims to draw closer in title chase
Drivers recorded 1,149 total laps in the Open Test, with Hunter-Reay posting 49.
“It was a good day,” he said. “Made some major gains and we’re pretty happy with the car. This track is similar to Barber (where he won in mid-April) and we’ve been quick on the big natural-terrain road courses. I’m happy with the work that the Andretti Autosport boys have done over the last two weeks and I’m sure we’ll find even more speed for Friday.”