SEBRING, Fla. – Two full-season entries at Team Penske for 2013 will allow technical director Ron Ruzewski to focus on the big picture.
Ruzewski, who also had been the engineer for the No. 3 Chevrolet-powered car driven by Helio Castroneves, has moved over for Jonathan Diuguid. Ruzewski will oversee the Nos. 3 and 12 entries, the latter driven by 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series championship runner-up Will Power.
Diuguid last season was the engineer for the No. 2 car driven by Ryan Briscoe, who earned the pole for the Indianapolis 500 and won at Sonoma Raceway in August. He directed the Feb. 19 test session at Sebring International Raceway.
“Though I have a different engineer, it’s not that different because when we debrief and discuss things all the engineers and drivers are together,” said Castroneves, a three-time Indianapolis 500 winner who is seeking to corral his first series championship. “I see a great opportunity now for Ron to oversee the cars from the top and for Jonathan. He did a great job with Ryan (Briscoe) last year.”
John Erickson, who worked with Diuguid on the Penske Racing American Le Mans Series team, will remain the race strategist for Castroneves.
“I think the combination during the race will be a good to get the best results for the season and get what we expect.”
Sato has strong opening with Foyt team
Takuma Sato, in his first exercise in the No. 14 ABC Supply car for A.J. Foyt Racing, topped the time sheet of the 13 drivers with a lap of 51.947 seconds on the 1.7-mile circuit.
"I'm happy that we did some good lap times at the end of the day but it is only testing. Still it's encouraging and a nice boost for the ABC Supply team,” Sato said.
"It was nice to get back in the car after the winter break. The team started with a setup they knew and I needed to feel the difference from what I've experienced, which I did feel some differences. Then we moved on to the testing program and various setup changes. They weren't always positive but we learned from the negative changes, too. In the afternoon we were constantly learning. We did lots of miles today so the car was very reliable and we were able to get through most of our program. We made good progress and it was a very encouraging day."
Scott Dixon in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car was second (52.017 seconds) and Will Power was third (52.153) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car. The testing group was separated by seven-tenths of a second.
Tristan Vautier (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports) and E.J. Viso (Andretti Autosport) will get their initial seat time with their new teams Feb. 20 at Sebring. The three other Andretti Autosport drivers (reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and James Hinchcliffe) also will put in a day’s work.
Next test day at Sonoma Raceway open to public
Simona de Silvestro, Tony Kanaan, Oriol Servia, Sebastien Bourdais, Sebastian Saavedra and Vautier also will test the following week at Sonoma Raceway, where they’ll join Ed Carpenter (Ed Carpenter Racing), Simon Pagenaud (Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports) and JR Hildebrand (Panther Racing). The all-day session Feb. 27 is open to the public and free.
Jakes, Conway take in the action
James Jakes, who was recently announced to drive the No. 30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-prepared car for the full season, attended the Feb. 19 session to watch Graham Rahal put in 142 laps on the track in the No. 15 Honda-powered car. He also was getting acquainted with engineer Eddie Jones.
Mike Conway, announced to drive for the team at Long Beach, also was at Sebring. He’s confident of more races being added to the program for 2013.
First IMS Grounds Tour is March 2
The popular Grounds Tour program offered by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum has 125 dates between March 2 and Dec. 14.
Knowledgeable Hall of Fame Museum staff members serve as hosts for the Grounds Tour, providing tour participants with a narrated historical journey through the decades at the "Racing Capital of the World" along with visits to notable IMS landmarks normally open only to officials, drivers and teams during events.
Guests also will tour the Hall of Fame Museum and enjoy a ride around the 2.5-mile oval in one of the Museum's tour buses. Check www.ims.com for details.