Road America test: Live updates from the track


ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – This just feels right – we’re coming to you from Tuesday’s Verizon IndyCar Series test at Road America – the first time the top level of North American open-wheel racing is back at the classic, picturesque 4.048-mile road course since 2007.

Quick reminder of who’s testing:

  • Team Penske: Will Power (now No. 12), Juan Pablo Montoya, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud
  • Chip Ganassi Racing: Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball
  • CFH Racing: Josef Newgarden
  • Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing: Graham Rahal
  • A.J. Foyt Enterprises: Takuma Sato

There has not been a ton of running yet in the first hour, which runs from 8:30 to 4 p.m. CT and local time, as drivers have noted low grip levels. Unofficial times are just under the 1:50 barrier to start the day, but no one is really pushing too hard as yet.

Fans can attend for a $20 entry fee, with 50 percent of every ticket sold going to the Wilson Children’s Fund to benefit the family of the late Justin Wilson. Fans will also have the option to make additional contributions on site. There’s already a good number of fans here.

And here’s the first of a number of tweets I’ll be posting both on my personal account and the @IndyCaronNBCSN account throughout the day.

More videos and photos:

Have spoken to a number of drivers – all except Castroneves actually as the Penske media scrum was a scrum – and will work up those transcripts today.

Also made sure to stop by the Gearbox – the track’s legendary food stand – for a double brat, some curly fries and a Pepsi.

It’s a good problem to have when the line to eat is this long.

Here’s some selected quotes from driver media availabilities today:

Power: “It’s actually pretty similar, I think. Champ Car was faster with a bit more power. But as far as speed goes, where we’re lifting, is similar. I don’t know what we were doing in Champ Cars. It should be about same pace too.”

Pagenaud: “The car behaves differently but obviously more speed here. It’s still the same race track. Very enjoyable here. Having quite a bit of fun. We’re going through a long list of laundry items. Enjoyable day.”

Montoya: “Back in the day with the old CART car, you had to lift everywhere. You’re breathing through Turn 7. Blind left hander where the bridge used to be, you lift there. Now it’s flat. How brave are you?

“It’s not easy flat. The thing is when it’s flat, you take more downforce off. Then you’ll go quicker in the corners.”

Dixon: “It’s like riding a different bike. It’s a three wheeler vs a two wheeler.The only thing that was quite familiar was coming into pit lane. Different car and 13 years. So a lot has changed. You see, feel and remember things. The general feel of it is quite a bit different. Yeah I think everything changes over time. The track changes. Facility looks good. It means a lot, it’s nice to come back to a place to see this many fans here for a test on a Tuesday. Fun track. It’s hard to put a whole lap together. It’s easy to get a couple corners right, but go offline with this car, it requires a lot of momentum. Mess up one corner, and it affects a whole lap.”

Kanaan: “I tell you what, the first lap today, it was fun. A lot of good memories came back from back in the day, and the speeds that this track brings.

“I haven’t been in a car since Sonoma, so to jump and go down this long straightaway, you realize how fast you are going, so it’s awesome to be back.”

Kimball: “Yeah, especially from (Turn) Five around to Canada (Corner) there is quite a bit of flow there. (Turn) One and (Turn) Three kind of stand on their own, but it is a lot of rhythm. There’s connections all the way through that if you can start to find that rhythm, you can make the most of it.”

Rahal: “It was awesome man. Good to be back. Turn some laps around this place. You forget how damn fast it is in these cars. It’s very quick. Way quicker than I remember the Champ Car being on cornering side. It’s cool. Gonna be a lot of fun. Keep working, keep digging for more speed. We’re creeping up.”

Newgarden: “Man I love this place. It’s awesome. It’s first time I’ve driven anything with power and grip. It’s incredible. It’s so fast. It’s all high speed corners. Yes some low speed corners. But every corner is fast. High commitment, very flowy track. You can’t mess up the rhythm. I like that it’s penalizing. You have to be precise. It’s just a damn cool track.”

Sato: “I love it. Every driver feels the same way.”

More to follow in this post throughout the day.

Ryan Hunter-Reay hired as replacement for Conor Daly at Ed Carpenter Racing

Ryan Hunter-Reay Carpenter
Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ryan Hunter-Reay was named to replace Conor Daly in Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet, starting in the NTT IndyCar Series event next week at Road America.

Hunter-Reay is the 2012 series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner. He finished 11th for Dreyer & Reinbold last month in the 107th Indy 500, his first start since the 2021 season finale. He drove full time for Andretti Autosport from 2010-21.

“We need to improve our competitiveness and I wanted to add a fresh perspective from a driver like Ryan who has a massive amount of experience and success as well as a reputation as a team leader. I am excited to welcome Ryan to the team,” team owner Ed Carpenter said in a team release. “We have worked together in the past as teammates and he tested for ECR at Barber Motorsports Park in October 2021, where he made an immediate impact as we were able to qualify one of our cars on the pole following that test. I am confident that his experience and technical abilities will be an asset to ECR as we move forward toward our goals as a team.”

Hunter-Reay has 18 IndyCar victories, most recently in 2018. He also is a winner in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, having been a part of winning entries in the 2020 Twelve Hours of Sebring and 2018 Petit Le Mans. Last year, he was an endurance driver for Cadillac Racing while being on standby for Chip Ganassi Racing.

He replaces Daly, whose departure was announced a day earlier in what the driver and team said was a mutual decision.

“I was surprised when I got the call from Ed,” Hunter-Reay said in a team release. “He described how frustrated he was that his team has not been able to realize its potential despite their efforts, investments, as well as technical and personnel changes over the past few years and asked for my help. Ed and I are very close friends and have been for a long time. I’ve worked with the team in the past and they are a very talented group with high expectations and a committed partner in BITNILE.COM.

“This will certainly be a challenge for me as well. It’s a tough situation jumping in a car in the middle of the season without any testing in what I believe to be the most competitive series in the world. Certainly, part of my motivation in saying ‘yes’ to Ed is the great challenge ahead. The last time I turned right driving an NTT IndyCar Series car was in October of 2021 with this team at Barber. However, I remain very confident in both my driving and technical abilities and believe by working with the talented people at ECR and Team Chevy, while representing BITNILE.COM, we will make progress. I am going to do everything I can do to help the team achieve its long-term objectives.”

Said Milton “Todd” Ault, the chairman of sponsor “It is great for to be aligned with an Indy 500 Winner and an NTT IndyCar Series champion. I have followed Ryan’s career for years and I am confident he will challenge the entire ECR team to perform at higher levels. I wish everyone luck at Road America.”