The end of on-track running for the Verizon IndyCar Series occurs at Sebring International Raceway’s short course this week on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Here’s what to look for:
SCHMIDT PETERSON’S NEW ERA
With Simon Pagenaud departed to Team Penske, James Hinchcliffe will have his first running as lead driver for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in the No. 77 car. Meanwhile GP2 veterans Davide Valsecchi, Stefano Coletti and Rodolfo Gonzalez will have a crack in the second car as the team seeks to replace Russian Mikhail Aleshin, who at the moment is not expected back for 2015.
While Valsecchi and Coletti are making their IndyCar test debuts, Gonzalez is already making his third test outing. The Venezuelan has a test apiece for Dale Coyne Racing (Barber Motorsports Park) and SPM (Homestead-Miami road course).
Hinchcliffe’s engineer has not yet been named as Pagenaud’s longtime engineer Ben Bretzman is moving with him to Penske. However expect SPM veteran Allen McDonald to provide the guiding tutelage for this test for all drivers.
SAGE’S CHANCE TO BLOOM
However, it could (and probably should) be imminent immediately after this week’s test, when 2013 Indy Lights champion and CGR development driver Sage Karam has his first couple days back in an IndyCar since his starring debut at the Indianapolis 500.
With young American talent not too widely available within the championship at the moment, a Karam confirmation would go a long way towards building for IndyCar’s future.
BHA’s PAIR OF ROOKIE TESTERS
As written last week, this is a more crucial test for 2014 Indy Lights champion Gabby Chaves than it is for BHA’s second tester, Dutch GP2 driver Daniel De Jong. Chaves, in his second test and with other cars on track as a comparative point, will look to demonstrate his value to the wider IndyCar community at large.
Meanwhile De Jong will be looking to gain experience and get his feet wet in his IndyCar testing debut. Per Dutch media, he’s not particularly interested in racing in IndyCar next season and instead will explore another season of GP2 instead.