A two-day IndyCar test session that begins tomorrow at Texas Motor Speedway will help set the aerodynamic options available to teams when the series returns to the 1.5-mile oval for the Firestone 600 in June.
19 different car and driver combinations are expected to take part in the test.
The track has reported tomorrow’s session will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time (10 a.m. – 6 p.m. ET) and will be open to the public, albeit without access to the infield and garage areas.
Before last year’s IndyCar race at Texas, the low-downforce aero package was tweaked slightly to take away drag from the cars.
That increased the pressure on drivers to hang on and conserve their tires, and made for a race that was clean but somewhat lacking in excitement compared to past Texas races.
After that race, Ryan Hunter-Reay noted the series’ difficult job of getting the package correct with the downforce levels and the tires’ rate of falling off. We’ll see if this upcoming test will help in that regard.
The test could also be an eye-opening experience for some of the series’ rookies, like Andretti Autosport’s Carlos Munoz (who finished third last weekend at Long Beach), Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Mikhail Aleshin, and Bryan Herta Autosport’s Jack Hawksworth.
Hawksworth has a solid run going at the Beach until he was collected in the Lap 54 crash triggered by Hunter-Reay’s contact with Josef Newgarden in Turn 4.
But now he’ll have to shift focus toward navigating Texas’ high banks. While the British racer has handled other high-speed ovals such as Indianapolis, Pocono, and Fontana, he did so in the markedly slower Indy Lights cars.
“I am looking forward to the test at Texas to see what one of these [IndyCars] is like on an oval,” he said recently. “I’ve never been to Texas before, so it will be interesting to see the layout. It looks unique for an oval, especially the ones I’ve been on.”
While he’s learned the proper line through video, Hawksworth still plans to lean on the advice of his team owner, Bryan Herta, and his other crewmates.
“There’s a really good bunch of guys on the team,” he said. “Bryan has a bunch of experience as a driver, and he’s available to give me advice about all kinds of circuits.
“The engineers and everybody are really helpful in getting me up to speed and help me as much as they can. The other part is just me getting on with it myself.”