This would have been a prime opportunity for Tony Kanaan to be cheeky with Target Chip Ganassi Racing engineers Eric Bretzman and Chris Simmons, who piled into the back seat of the Chevrolet Camaro convertible for a spin on the new Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
But the reigning Indianapolis 500 champion’s reconnaissance lap of the 2.439-mile, 14-turn circuit was tame compared to how hard he’ll push the No. 10 Chevrolet-powered car April 30 during a Verizon IndyCar Series Open Test in preparation for the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 8-10.
The 10 a.m.-noon and 2-5 p.m. (ET) sessions are free and open to spectators to watch from the South Terrace grandstand and Turn 2 mounds off West 16th Street.
Click it: Interactive track map || Get Grand Prix of Indianapolis tickets
All but peripheral work in the massive stadium’s infield ceased as Kanaan – and later Simon Pagenaud of Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports – made mental notes of sightlines and placing of curbing on the road course that has undergone a $5 million reconfiguration and enhancement project begun last fall.
“It’s the final adjustments so hopefully I’ll be able to help the guys (at IMS) with a little bit of my feedback, and put that feedback into a report for all the other drivers,” Kanaan said. “It’s really close to what we planned and I think it’s going to be a fun race for the fans. I’m excited.”
Driver feedback from the Open Test regarding placing of temporary curbing will be sought, according to Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles. Infrastructure work, including new spectator mounds to complement the permanent grandstands and temporary infield seating, will continue as part of the Speedway’s long-term capital improvement projects.
“We caught back up from what was a tough winter for us in Indianapolis,” Boles said. “This is just the first of a lot of changes that the fans will be able to see as we move into 2015 and 2016.”
The 82-lap race (3:30 p.m. ET on ABC) will commence with a standing start and follow the clockwise course that features “many passing zones,” according to Kanaan. The next day, Verizon IndyCar Series drivers will re-orient themselves to the 2.5-mile oval and its counterclockwise flow as they open practice for the 98th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 25.
“Having two events in May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is fantastic,” Boles said. “Our staff loves events more than anything.”