As MotorSportsTalk chronicled heading into this week’s first Verizon IndyCar Series team test at NOLA Motorsports Park, Chip Ganassi Racing got a leg up on the competition as the first team to run on the circuit outside New Orleans.
All four team drivers – confirmed drivers Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Charlie Kimball along with CGR developmental driver and likely fourth full-season driver Sage Karam – got a day’s worth of running in on the 2.67-mile circuit.
All four have interesting stories to tell as a result of this first test, before IndyCar races at New Orleans April 10-12, 2015.
For Dixon, it’s a chance to get his first running in at the track geographically closest on the IndyCar schedule to Barber Motorsports Park, where he has enjoyed so much success but often come up short of winning (he traditionally has finished second at Barber).
For Kimball, it was a chance to help begin the telling of IndyCar’s story in New Orleans.
“We’re coming in 10 years after a such big event in the city’s history, and we get to put on our show,” Kimball told FOX 8 reporter Sean Fazende in an interview. “We get to show Louisiana and New Orleans what IndyCar is all about. It’s already a lot of fun to drive.”
And for Karam, it was his second straight IndyCar test with CGR after also testing with the team in December. While not confirmed yet, Karam is more confident and mature heading into his second season with the team.
Here are some of the reactions from Ganassi managing director Mike Hull on Twitter, and also from Karam and Kimball:
Tickets are now on sale for the upcoming IndyCar Classic at the Circuit of the Americas March 22-24, 2019 and in grand Texas fashion, the series and track kicked off the sale with appearances by Simon Pagenaud and Colton Herta in San Antonio and Austin respectively.
The CoTA race will be the second race of the 2019 season.
The highly anticipated debut of IndyCar at CoTA adds another marquee event to the track’s schedule along with Formula 1, World Rallycross and the Pirelli World Challenge.
Pagenaud was joined by retired San Antonio Sours player Brent Barry and local businessman Red McCombs as they visited the Alamo and world famous McNay Art Museum.
This will be IndyCar’s first trip to the track, but Pagenaud came within one position of winning at Texas Motor Speedway in 2018. Driving for Team Penske, he started and second behind his teammate Josef Newgarden and finished a season-best second to Scott Dixon.
Pagenaud hopes to add to his current 11 victories after going winless in 2018.
After visting San Antonio, focus shifted to Austin where Herta was joined by Jay Frye, President of Competition and Operations at IndyCar and Bobby Epstein, Chairman of Circuit of the Americas.
Herta took to the streets of Austin and visited the Texas State Capitol building as part of his tour.
Herta, who will turn 19-years-old the week after IndyCar visits CoTA, will campaign for Rookie of the Year honors in 2019. He has one previous start in the series at Sonoma this September. He qualified 19th and completed all 85 laps before finishing 20th in the 25-car field.
In 33 starts in Indy Lights competition, Herta has six wins, 20 podium finishes and nine poles.