Glare, bumps may pose issue for drivers at Fontana

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The IZOD IndyCar Series’ season finale next Saturday night, the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway, is the first night race for the series since Texas back in June.

The race is more than a month later than it was in 2012. Cooler temperatures are expected but potentially, the glare entering Turns 3 and 4 could pose an issue as drivers head down the backstraight.

“We had a test (Sept. 24) in Fontana.  We did face a similar issue.  I believe all the drivers agreed and exposed the situation, and I believe there is a scenario that might delay the race about 25 to 30 minutes,” Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves said Thursday on a teleconference. “I’m not sure about the time.  But I know about 5:50 or something is about when the sun is at a critical point in Turn 3 that we cannot see at all. So (INDYCAR president of competition and operations) Derrick Walker is already looking into it, and like I said, I believe they will make an adjustment in time so we won’t have that kind of issue.”

JR Hildebrand, who’s driving for Barracuda Racing next weekend, told me last weekend in Houston that going into Turn 3 in Fontana that you’re “nearly blinded” by the glare.

Some bumps in the corners – although the track is still fairly smooth, especially after the run of street courses – may also upset the handling of the cars. Penske took that to heart last year when Will Power washed up through Turns 1 and 2 over a bump in the turn; Castroneves explained Thursday it might be Turns 3 and 4 that could be a trouble spot this time around.

“The second thing about the bump and not only in 1 and 2 but in 3 and 4, the latest I heard is also they might do some touch‑up on those bumps so that we can prevent any kind of issues,” he said.

“But at this point the track is much different than Houston.  I’d say it’s much smoother, and I do believe it’s going to create a great excitement of several lines, people can go below, can go middle, can go high, so that can create a great kind of racing.”

Newgarden fastest as Castroneves returns in weather-shortened Barber test

Photo: IndyCar
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The Verizon IndyCar Series took to Barber Motorsports Park on Tuesday for an open test, with 24 entries tackling the 2.38-mile road course.

Weather intervened in the afternoon, preventing nearly the entire field from going out, but the weather held off during the morning enough for one session to be run in its entirety.

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden led the way, with a quick lap of 1:07.979, ahead of Team Penske teammates Will Power and Helio Castroneves. For Castroneves, this marked his first IndyCar outing of 2018.

Helio Castroneves was back in an IndyCar on Tuesday at Barber Motorsports Park. Photo: IndyCar

Sporting the Pennzoil “yellow submarine” paint scheme, Castroneves turned 41 laps around Barber in the morning session, with a quick lap of 1:08.315. He was also the only driver to venture out on track in the afternoon, completing eight laps.

The Dale Coyne Racing duo of Sebastien Bourdais and Zachary Claman De Melo completed the top five.

Results are below.