Count Simon Pagenaud among the IZOD IndyCar Series drivers looking forward to a manufacturer test day at Auto Club Speedway on Sept. 24.
"I can't wait to get on that big oval again," the winner of the most recent IZOD IndyCar Series race said.
Track time is in advance of the Oct. 19 MAVTV 500 INDYCAR World Championships on the 2-mile oval, which is setting up to again be the championship-deciding race. Ten drivers are in contention for the title heading into the penultimate event of the season -- the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston doubleheader weekend Oct. 5-6 -- with points front-runner Helio Castroneves seeking his first championship.
There have been 10 different winners, including four for the first time, through 16 races.
“The competition is incredible,” four-time series champion Dario Franchitti said.
The exciting 2012 season finale at the track in Fontana, Calif., produced multiple storylines, including Ryan Hunter-Reay clinching the series title by a scant three points in an ill-handling car and Ed Carpenter prevailing in the race that featured 29 lead changes and laps consistently at more than 216 mph.
The Chevrolet and Honda test day is free and open to the public from 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. (local). Viewing will be from the Terrace Suite rooftops above pit road. Spectators are advised to enter through the speedway’s main gate off Cherry Avenue and follow signs to park.
There's a bonus, too. Fans that purchase a ticket to the MAVTV 500 INDYCAR World Championships by Sept. 13 will be invited to a Q&A at 6:15 p.m. with some of the drivers on the test day.
Scheduled to participate by manufacturer:
* Andretti Autosport -- Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, E.J. Viso
* Dragon Racing -- Sebastien Bourdais, Sebastian Saavedra
* Ed Carpenter Racing -- Ed Carpenter
* KV Racing Technology -- Tony Kanaan, Simona De Silvestro
* Panther Racing -- Oriol Servia
* Team Penske -- Helio Castroneves, Will Power
* A.J. Foyt Racing -- Takuma Sato
* Dale Coyne Racing -- Pippa Mann, Justin Wilson
* Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing -- Charlie Kimball
* Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing -- James Jakes, Graham Rahal
* Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing -- Josef Newgarden
* Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports -- Simon Pagenaud
* Schmidt Peterson Motorsports -- Tristan Vautier
* Target Chip Ganassi Racing -- Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti
The Firestone Indy Lights championship also will be decided Oct. 19. Only 35 points separate five drivers heading to the race Oct. 5 on the Houston street circuit.
To purchase tickets to the MAVTV 500 INDYCAR World Championship Weekend, which includes the PRD Pan-American Crown of Karting event, call 800-944-RACE (7223), CLICK HERE or visit the Auto Club Speedway ticket office.