Sebastien Bourdais, Simon Pagenaud and Justin Wilson will compete in non-IZOD IndyCar Series races this weekend, but they’re the exception as personnel, teams, suppliers and partners take a break after eight consecutive weeks of on-track activity.
“Everybody is looking forward to an off weekend. It’s been really busy race after race, even though we love to race,” KV Racing Technology driver Simona De Silvestro said. “For me, it’s going to be two days of pretty much chill and not do much of anything.”
The stretch started with the Sao Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle on the first weekend in May and continued non-stop through the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by DEKALB on June 23. On-track activity was extended this week with testing at Pocono Raceway, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Sebring International Raceway for all but three teams.
Four events on diverse ovals abutted three street course races, including the series’ inaugural doubleheader weekend, on the schedule.
“It’s definitely a challenging part of the season,” added Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing’s Charlie Kimball, “but there’s the chance to make a lot of points in the string and we love to race as much as possible. But the ovals are different. The road and streets are physically demanding and with the ovals it’s a fatigue mentally.”
Kimball will enjoy some downtime at a northern Indiana lake this weekend and “get focused.” On the horizon is the first Indy car race at the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway on July 7 followed by the doubleheader weekend July 13-14 on the streets of Exhibition Place in Toronto.
The spring through summer stretch has been considerably lengthier for crew members and truck drivers as they returned from the April 21 event in Long Beach, Calif., to immediately prepare and pack for the trip to Brazil a week later. On May 8, the process began anew for the Indianapolis 500.
“Depending on when the trucks have to leave (for the next event), you’re working Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday or Monday and Tuesday,” said Dave Faustino, race engineer for the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car driven by Will Power. “Guys on the team are pretty good with a day or day and a half off and bouncing back. Nobody’s been put down by the hours.
“I’ve been impressed by the guys on the 12 car that the effort continues though the luck hasn’t been on our side. Nobody’s working less hard."
Teams will regroup and prepare on the back end of testing this week for the Pocono INDYCAR 400 Fueled by Sunoco in Long Pond, Pa., which will be preceded by an Open Test July 4. Downtime with family and friends, and to tackle personal project lists, is stressed among teams.
“It’s the families that take the big toll more so than us who are pretty passionate about it,” Faustino said.