IndyCar: Dixon leads day of Grand Prix of Indy road course testing (UPDATED, VIDEO)

1 Comment

AFTERNOON: Times dipped into the 1:09s into the afternoon, a full two seconds faster than this morning, as the IMS road course rubbered in and gained time for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ test session ahead of the May 10 Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

Scott Dixon posted the day’s fastest lap at 1:09.5969 with teammate Ryan Briscoe and Simon Pagenaud also into the 1:09s, and completing the top three.

“I’ve obviously got a big smile on my face,” said Dixon, not just because of his time in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, but more due to the track layout.

“The track was so much fun today. The thing they captured, it’s a demanding circuit. The cars all seem very close which is going to create some fantastic racing. These big straights, I think Brazil is probably the only other time we’ve had a straight similar length like this.”

Combined times are linked here. All bar Mikhail Aleshin posted times in the second session, and all made substantial improvements from the morning. Aleshin and Graham Rahal reported “engine issues” during the day.

MORNING: The first test session of the day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is in the books for testing on the new IMS road course, ahead of the May 10 Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

It may be a new circuit but it was a familiar name leading the morning session – Verizon Team Penske’s Will Power. His former teammate and now NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing driver Ryan Briscoe was second.

Briscoe and Graham Rahal had the opportunity to test on the track before the race was formally announced last fall.

More to the point, here’s the rest of the morning testing times.

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

Leave a comment

Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.