FORT WORTH, Texas – Verizon IndyCar Series drivers returned to the track a few days removed from a weekend at Long Beach that left some angry with their fellow competitors.
But Texas Motor Speedway, which played host to 18 car/driver combinations April 16, wasn’t the place to play the payback game.
“It’s a battle you don’t want to be in as a driver,” said Marco Andretti of Andretti Autosport. “You have to have that level of respect. Yes, we have chrome noses on our cars, but we don’t have bumpers. You have to move on. It’s racing. There are always things that happen. You just worry about your own program. As soon as you are worrying about somebody else’s program, your head is not where it needs to be.”
Will Power and Simon Pagenaud were both at Texas after having a run-in during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Both said they have put the on-track action behind them, though Power joked that he had to cancel a planned vacation with his former teammate.
“I spoke to him straight after the race and he was probably still angry,” Power said. “But it’s racing and it’s going to happen that way all year. We need to try to forget about it and move on.”
Added Pagenaud: “We don’t need to talk any more about it.”
Montoya gets up to speed
The Texas test provided Juan Pablo Montoya his first taste of a Verizon IndyCar Series car on the high-banked oval. Montoya said though he’s getting more comfortable in his return to Indy car racing, he’s still adapting.
“It’s still hard,” Montoya said. “(Testing at) Sebring was a lot simpler because I had only been there in an Indy car. I know it was a long time ago, but because it’s still an Indy car, I knew the reference points. But here, and places I’ve been in a Cup car, you are used to lifting and braking and all of that. You have to remind yourself that you can run wide open. It’s hard and it’s fun, but so much quicker.”
Tricky Texas conditions make for tough day
A blustery and cool day made Texas Motor Speedway even more of a handful for drivers. The conditions made it difficult to evaluate four potential aerodynamic specifications for the Firestone 600 on June 7.
“It’s going to be a tricky race,” said Graham Rahal, last year’s race runner-up who was using a set-up based on the 2013 package. “This one is going to be difficult. And it’s cold today, which gives the cars more grip. To come back here on race weekend, when it’s hot and hopefully not windy like this, it’s a difficult place. One of the trickiest for sure.”
Andretti said the options are more tweaks than big changes to the car’s set-up.
“We are driving these cars on the ragged edge,” he said. “The rate of falloff is pretty great here. I was watching my onboard (telemetry) from last year to get ready for this week and we earned our money here last year. I had a race-winning car and it looked terrible. I think we need to balance it where it isn’t pack racing, but where we aren’t doing 190s at the end of a stint. We need somewhere in between. That’s where we’re going. It’s not a drastic change. It’s a little change.”
Impressed by Big Hoss
Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan were disappointed that Big Hoss, the world’s largest video board, wasn’t active during the session.
“It’s cool to see the big TV,” Dixon said. “But it probably cost too much money to turn it on. Doesn’t someone have a remote so we can turn it on?”
Added Kanaan: “We have a video game in the truck. Can we set that up just to see what it looks like?”