Indy 500 rookies test Wednesday at Texas

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A.J. Allmendinger (pictured), Tristan Vautier and Carlos Munoz will undergo their oval rookie orientation test tomorrow on the 1.5-mile, high-banked Texas Motor Speedway.

With all three drivers slated for the Rookie Orientation Program on April 11 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, IndyCar race director Beaux Barfield felt that Texas would provide a good opportunity for the trio to get used to higher speeds before facing the Brickyard for the first time.

“I want to make sure they are set into a rhythm and they’re aware of what’s going on around them,” Barfield told IndyCar.com. “There are a couple of bumps in certain spots that they need to be aware of and I’ll be looking for them to be changing their lines a little bit once they get up to speed and comfortable to drive different lanes.”

The ROP at Indianapolis is a three-phase test that all first-time Indy 500 competitors must pass. Drivers are required to run 10 laps at 200-205 mph, another 10 laps at 205-209 mph, and finally, 15 laps at 210+ mph.

Two of those three phases must be completed on April 11 to join in the Opening Day of “500” practice on May 12, and the final phase can be completed during any practice day before Pole Day on May 18.

Barfield, however, said that Allmendinger, Vautier and Munoz won’t have to worry about speed phases tomorrow.

“We’re specific about what’s required at the Rookie Orientation Program at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but much more open and laid back with how we conduct rookie tests at different venues,” he said. “There won’t be any specific speed phases to the session, but I will defer to the teams to get their driver comfortable with the car and speeds.”

In addition, veterans Ed Carpenter, Takuma Sato, Graham Rahal, Simon Pagenaud and James Jakes will take part in a private test at TMS later in the day.

IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama final practice report

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Will Power posted the fastest lap in the third practice session for the Grand Prix of Alabama with a speed of 122.953 mph.

Rookie Robert Wickens (122.552 mph) was second fast, foretelling a continuation of his incredible rookie season.

Scott Dixon (122.237), Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.231) and Alexander Rossi (122.106) rounded out the top five.

The practice was interrupted several times for incidents. 

Ed Jones spun off track in turn five after locking up his brakes with 30 minutes remaining in practice three. He was able to drive back to the pits under his own power.

With 20 minutes still on the clock, Jordan King took a trip into the fence after posting a fastest lap of 121.753 mph. He sustained substantial left side damage to his car and came back to the pits on the hook.

“I’m annoyed really,” King said afterward on the live stream at IndyCar.com. “I slightly locked the inside front, then just stayed off onto the grass and that was it. But I wasn’t really even pushing that hard.”

With two minutes remaining, Charlie Kimball lost power and pulled off the track, bringing an end to the practice session.

Dixon also had an off-road excursion.