Matthew Brabham completes first IndyCar test, eyes 2016 Indy 500

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Today, Iowa. Next year, Indianapolis, perhaps?

That’s what Matthew Brabham is hoping for, after completing his first-ever full IndyCar test with Andretti Autosport on Thursday at Iowa Speedway.

Brabham split the test in the AA Dallara-Honda with potential future teammate Marco Andretti.

“I had an absolute blast today,” Brabham told SpeedCafe.com. “I have wanted to drive an IndyCar for so long now and to finally get a chance was awesome.

“Driving an IndyCar … for the first time was definitely different to what I am used to, the speed, power and downforce were a big jump. But it did not take me too long and I was up to speed quickly and started to work through the program the team wanted to do.

“It was great working with Marco and drawing off his experience, a short oval is not the easiest place to drive for the first time in one of these cars. But with his and the teams’ help it all came together pretty quickly for me.”

Brabham hopes to secure a ride for the 100th Indianapolis 500 next May, a race that would hold a lot of personal meaning to the 21-year-old Brabham, as it would mark the 55th anniversary of his late grandfather Sir Jack Brabham’s first racing effort at Indy (finished ninth in 1961).

That would be the first of five appearances by the elder Brabham in the 500, and his best finish.

Sir Jack would win three Formula 1 championships. He passed away May 14, 2014 at the age of 88.

If the younger Brabham makes the 500 field next year, he’d become only the third third-generation driver to achieve such a feat along with the Andrettis and Vukovich families.

The son of Geoff Brabham, the younger Brabham drove full-time for Andretti Autosport on the Indy Lights Series in 2014, winning one race (Indianapolis road course) and finishing fourth for the season.

He has made just three starts in the first 10 events this season before funding ran out, with a seventh (St. Petersburg 1) and two 11th-place-finishes (St. Petersburg 2) and Long Beach.

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Attention NASCAR teams: IMSA drivers available for Daytona!

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NASCAR will be making its debut on the Daytona International Speedway road course next month, and there’s a big fan who’d like to join the historic weekend.

This fan actually has impressive credentials, too — a few thousand laps around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile layout that annually plays host to the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

In 2014, the winning GTLM team in the sports car endurance classic included IMSA Porsche driver Nick Tandy, who rabidly has followed NASCAR for more than 30 years since growing up in England.

So why not try racing NASCAR? Especially because Tandy has the weekend of Aug. 14-16 free.

He’s not picky, either — offering up his services on Twitter (as well as those of Porsche teammate Earl Bamber) for an ARCA, Xfinity, trucks or Cup ride.

Tandy’s affinity for American stock-car racing runs deep.

His first trip to the World Center of Racing was as a fan attending the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 2008. During Rolex testing in January, Tandy, 35, said he hadn’t missed a Cup race on TV in 15 years.

Among his favorite NASCAR drivers: the Earnhardts, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. When IMSA ran the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2014, Tandy stayed a few extra days at the Brickyard and bought Kyle Busch gear for himself and his children.

He briefly took the stage during a NASCAR weekend last October. After IMSA’s season finale at Road Atlanta, Tandy made a few demonstration laps and a burnout in his No. 911 Porsche before the Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

He also has some experience in stock cars, having raced Modified-type grass-roots series on England’s quarter-mile short tracks.

Couple that with a Daytona road course record that includes two consecutive podium class finishes (including last Saturday) and a sports car resume with 13 IMSA victories and an overall win in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans … and maybe a NASCAR team should take a look.

And Tandy isn’t the only IMSA driver who likely would be available.

Corvette driver Jordan Taylor, who won the 2017 Rolex 24 overall title with Jeff Gordon as a teammate (and the inspiration for his Rodney Sandstrom persona), also tweeted his availability for the weekend on the high banks.

Sports car veteran Andy Lally, a GTD driver with multiple class wins in the Rolex 24 as well as 38 Cup starts (he was the 2011 rookie of the season in NASCAR’s premier series), also hung out his shingle.

There also is AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth (who just won at Daytona last Saturday), the Englishman who teamed with Kyle Busch at the Rolex 24 in January and made an Xfinity start at Mid-Ohio last year with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Many sports car drivers (such as Taylor) already live in Florida, and many are hunkering down in the Sunshine State with IMSA returning to action at Daytona last week and Sebring International Raceway next week. Because of COVID-19-related travel concerns and restrictions, several IMSA stars who live outside the country are riding out the pandemic within a few hours of Daytona with nothing to do.

Why not a weekend at the World Center of Racing?

Over the years, scads of “road-course ringers” (including some Formula One veterans) have tried their hands in stock cars at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

How about considering the many sports car drivers who already have reached victory lane at Daytona by making a few right-hand turns, too?