IndyCar: Drivers praise speed, flowing nature of NOLA circuit

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The most common refrain coming out of this week’s Verizon IndyCar Series test at NOLA Motorsports Park was “it’s fast and flowing,” or something along those lines.

With times already in the 1:18 and 1:19 range, they should improve once the manufacturer aero kits come on board the track. Several drivers expect this will be the fastest road course on the schedule.

“This track is similar to the Indy Grand Prix in terms of layout,” said Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud, who won the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis last year for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

“You have to be really precise with your braking point and the speed you carry into the corners. I think fans will see good racing, a lot of passing and the aero kits will make the cars even faster, which will be a lot of fun to drive.”

Added Josef Newgarden of CFH Racing, “It’s a really fun, flowing track. It’s kind of like a European circuit in some parts. It has its challenges because it has bumps in some areas that you have to watch out for and then you have to try to get the most out of the smooth, long, flowing corners to make the cars faster. There is a lot of apex speed that you’re trying to carry around there where you’re fighting the car.

“I think this track is similar to the Indianapolis road course for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, with very long straightaways and fast corners that lead onto the long straightaways. There is room to race here and with some of the hard braking zones, you’ll see quite a bit of passing. We had such great racing at Indy and hopefully we can replicate that here.”

James Hinchcliffe compared the track more to Barber Motorsports Park.

“Corners 3 and 5 are quite long, there is a flat-out chicane on the backstraight and (Turns) 12, 13 and 14 are all long corners as well,” said Pagenaud’s replacement at SPM. “It will be hard on tires as a result and kind of Barber-esque in that respect. When you look at the races we’ve had at Barber (Motorsports Park) the past couple of years, I think this one could be quite good.”

The inaugural NOLA race is set for April 12, a week after Easter Sunday.