May 7, 2012
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Rubens Barrichello climbed the 24-degree banking between Turns 1 and 2 at Texas Motor Speedway and exclaimed (well, fill in your own expletive).
It's a new and exciting (fill in other adjectives) chapter in the career of the 19-year Formula One veteran and four-race veteran of the IZOD IndyCar Series.
Barrichello sped away from the concrerete pit stall onto the 1.5-mile asphalt racetrack at 8:52 a.m. (local) for his IZOD IndyCar Series oval rookie test after KV Racing Technology teammate Tony Kanaan shook down the No. 8 Chevrolet-powered car. Fifty-five minutes later and after maintaining a steady 205-206 mph pace through three stints, Barrichello's facial features softened.
Click it: Morning session report || Afternoon session report || Combined report
"It's different from anything I've tried," said Barrichello, who has top-10 finishes in his past three road/street course races and is 11th in the championship standings. "On my second run, after I broke the 200s, I was very rude on the radio because I was so excited. I said it was truly awesome, but not in a good manner.
"I am comfortable running, but I just need another 5,000 days to get it to the level of Tony. I've been to places in Formula One that you have to have the courage to take it flat to gain a hundreth (of a second). Here, it wasn't the case of getting flat because it's not that difficult, but it's keeping the line and the vision on it. I'm truly excited, but my mind is still processing everything from the time on the track. I think as a rookie I think I did OK. I guessed (IZOD IndyCar Series officials) agreed."
With Kanaan and E.J. Viso on hand, Barrichello was scheduled to test from 8-11 p.m. March 6. But that session was put off until today because of a mechanical issue.
"Last night I went to sleep thinking about it and when I woke up I was on the other side of the bed, so I already was ovaling in my dreams," Barichello said with a laugh. "Tony already had told me some things that I might not expect, so that's good."
Headphones in place on pit lane, Kanaan watched the morning session with more joy than concern.
''It was quite exciting to see how excited he got, and how happy he got out of the car saying how awesome it is," the 2004 IZOD IndyCar Series champion said of his "brother." "I'm glad he liked it. Now the real challenge begins, which it will be to learn as much as he can, and try to get faster.''
The remainder of the day for all 11 drivers was dedicated to confirming the aerodynamic spec for the June 8-9 Firestone 550 and getting in laps on an oval in preparation for the Indianapolis 500.
"I told the officials to let everyone running close to me to give a margin because I'm still not so comfortable running just one lane; maybe one and a half lanes," Barrichello said. "I'm definitely a newcomer and it's an exciting challenge. (If it wasn't) I would have stayed home. I truly love this.
"I'm not totally at peace with the car. I'm driving OK, but I'm not driving my best just yet because I'm not familiar with everything just yet."
• A.J. Foyt Racing's Mike Conway, Wade Cunningham
• Ed Carpenter Racing's Ed Carpenter
• KV Racing Technology’s Rubens Barrichello
• Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing’s Charlie Kimball
• Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing’s Graham Rahal
• Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti
• Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe, Helio Castroneves, Will Power
Click it: Firestone 550 tickets
Barrichello and Cunningham will participate in the Rookie Orientation Program at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 10. That 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. session also is free and open to the public for viewing from the South Terrace Grandstand.