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DATE News (chronologically)
03/16/15
irl
Good afternoon from Barber (Update 2)
Dracone and Huertas
Dracone and Huertas
Photo by IndyCar

UPDATE #2 We looked into why Francesco Dracone's #19 Dale Coyne Racing machine ran without the Honda aero kits today at Barber Motorsports Park, while teammate Carlos Huertas ran the aero kit on the #18.

Originally, we were told that the team did not have adequate time to outfit the #19 car with the new kits. However, we later got word that there is a shortage of Honda parts in circulation available to the teams.

Now, is the shortage of parts, something specific to the current test? Or is the shortage something expected to carry over into the season? We weren't able to get the particulars. However, word going round the paddock is that not all teams have adequate access to the necessary parts at this point in time.

Of course, what could make a parts-shortage sticky is who has parts and who does not. We're not sure exactly what to make of it now, but this is surely a story to follow.

As for the Chevrolet parts situation, we paid a visit to the Team Penske garage area after Helio Castroneves crashed this afternoon. While we were unable to confirm what exactly was damaged on the #3 Chevrolet, we did confirm that Team Penske had brought surplus parts to the test from Chevrolet.

Hmmm.....

The prevailing wisdom seems to be that Honda is quicker on the straightaways, Chevy in the corners. Of course, Chevy teams posted the seven fastest times in the early session and with 50 minutes remaining in the afternoon session, Chevy teams occupy the top-5 spots. So, as of now, it looks like the Bowtie Brigade holds a rather decisive edge.

Lucille Dust reporting from Barber Motorsports Park

03/16/15

Justin Wilson spent some time talking with Michael Andretti this morning at Barber. Hmm...

Longtime Indy car driver Justin Wilson, who is not signed to race in 2015, is here today at Barber Motorsports Park. And we saw Wilson spending a decent amount of time speaking with Andretti Autosport owner Michael Andretti. Are they just catching up or are they talking about Wilson driving the fourth Andretti Autosport entry later in the year? Or maybe they discussed the possibility Wilson driving for the team at the Indianapolis 500?

Simona de Silvestro, who is confirmed to drive for the team in the season opener at St. Pete is also here. Although she is not testing today, the popular Swiss driver will be in the #25 Andretti Autosport Honda at Sebring the Monday and Tuesday before St. Pete.

Unlike Wilson and de Silvestro, Graham Rahal did test this morning. We asked young Rahal if the new aero kits would place a greater premium on upper-body strength. Rahal, is of course, one of the taller and stronger drivers on the circuit. He noted that the driver's neck is going to get a tougher workout than before.

Also, in light of our discussion below from this morning with the people from Firestone, Rahal believes increased tire degradation will be a factor with the faster car. Today, after 20 laps, Rahal said his tires had essentially been used up.

Last, as you might expect, there have been a few teething issues with the new kits. Some teams are at something of a loss as to how to work on the cars, one telling us they spent much of the morning simply figuring not what adjustments to make, rather how to adjust the front wings.

Anyway, session 2 will be underway shortly. Check back in to AR1 later for more from Barber.

Lucille Dust reporting from Barber Motorsports Park



03/16/15

Simon Pagenaud sits atop the times sheets thus far at Barber.

We awoke to cool, mid-40 degree temperatures here in Leeds, Alabama. However, by the time the Indy Cars took to the 2.38-mile Barber Motorsports Park circuit, temperatures increased to the mid-60s. And currently, we are enjoying a pleasant afternoon here just east of Birmingham.

Not surprisingly, the Team Penske cars were quick right away. As of 12:13 p.m. local time the Penske stable occupies positions one (Simon Pagenaud), three (Will Power), four (Helio Castroneves), and tenth (Juan Pablo Montoya). Montoya has done the most laps of the Penske stable, so maybe he's doing full-fuel setup?

The #19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda driven by Francesco Dracone has turned 34 laps. However, Dracone is a distant 5 seconds off Pagenaud's time. Of course, Dracone is running an aero kit free DW12, which we imagine explains at least part of the five-second gap. We'll check on whether Carlos Huertas is also without the kits, although the Colombian has thus far only turned 5 laps.

We caught up with the fine people from Firestone earlier, and asked them if they had made any changes to the tires. Given the new aero kits, they said they were hesitant to add another variable to the mix. So, no changes to the Firestone tires for now, as the engineers are waiting to see the data and what effect the increased downforce will have on tire wear.

The transmission designers are likewise interested observers, wondering what will happen to the gearboxes as the car goes faster with the increased downforce. Will this result in having to increase the high end of the gearbox?

Last, as you know Chip Ganassi Racing driver Sage Karam injured his right hand in an accident earlier. Well, we just walked by the 2013 Indy Lights champ, and he had his hand wrapped. Hopefully, the injury is not too bad, but Karam is out for the day.

Check into AutoRacing1 for more as the day goes on.

Lucille Dust reporting for AutoRacing1 from Barber Motorsports Park

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