Juan Pablo Montoya

FONTANA, Calif. – Five-hundred miles in the heat of an August night, with dust clogging radiators and competitors clinging to the steering wheel so tight they can’t even relax during a lightning-quick pit stop.

Ed Carpenter wouldn’t have it any other way to close the Verizon IndyCar Series season, and 21 other drivers who aren’t in unison on the shade of red in the series logo would agree with the team/owner driver on that point.

Carpenter, who’s finished first and second in the past two trips to Auto Club Speedway in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka car, is obviously looking forward to competing on the 2-mile oval Aug. 30 and hopefully taking an extended bow in Victory Circle. First, though, all the drivers will make preparations for the two-day show with a test session Aug. 27.

Click it: MAVTV 500 entry list

Practice sessions Aug. 29 will be streamed live on IndyCar.com in conjunction with real-time Timing & Scoring and the IMS Radio Network broadcast with Paul Page.

“Test days are always important because you can always go with what’s worked in the past and see if it still works or see if we have to adapt to new conditions,” said Carpenter, whose Ed Carpenter Racing team was on the track in February.”

Fans can watch from 4:30-10:30 p.m. (local) from the infield Terrace Suite rooftops above pit road. They’ll be admitted free with a ticket (or proof of purchase) for the MAVTV 500 or by making a $10 donation to the Auto Club Speedway Foundation benefiting local schools.

Fans can purchase race weekend tickets HERE.

As part of regular maintenance, the seams in the racing surface recently have been re-sealed.

“It’s always a track I’ve enjoy racing and 500 miles makes it even more intriguing,” added Carpenter, who won at Texas Motor Speedway in June. “That last 100 miles doesn’t seem like it would be that big of a difference to other races we run, but it does add another element that I think favors my driving style.

“It’s been a good year with three wins for the team (Mike Conway, who has driven the No. 20 car on road and street courses, has two wins), but it’s kind of sad that it’s already coming to an end. It seems like just a few weeks ago we were right in the heart of the season. You never want the season to end because it’s fun driving.

“We want to end on a high note. If you go out with a dud it makes for a long offseason.”

A total of 104 points are available in the 250-lap race, with championship front-runner Will Power entering with a 51-point gap on Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves. He is 81 points ahead of Simon Pagenaud of Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports.

Power won the 2013 finale at Auto Club Speedway -- his first victory on a superspeedway -- in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car and any finish sixth or better will give the Aussie his first series title.