IndyCar test underway at PIR; speeds 186-plus, plus other notes

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AVONDALE, Ariz. – Times aren’t official during a test session, but this weekend’s two-day Test in the West session – a.k.a. “PrixView,” a.k.a. the Verizon IndyCar Series unofficial “spring training,” but I can say this after the first half hour of testing:

It’s gonna be ridiculously fast.

2:30 p.m. ET: Simon Pagenaud has already set what is a new unofficial speed record of 184.583 mph in the No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet, adorned with new sponsorship.

That lap time on the slightly reconfigured Phoenix International Raceway was 19.9325 seconds, so sub-20 seconds.

The official track record is held by Arie Luyendyk, set on the old layout, of 19.608 seconds at a speed of 183.599 mph.

There was some consternation about the old mark, although Luyendyk cleared that up on Twitter after I inadvertently typed in the wrong lap time.

Marco Andretti was first out and got a 180.647 mph best lap, with Tony Kanaan also posting a 180.967 mph lap shortly thereafter.

Pagenaud has the unofficial mark to shoot for for the rest of the test.

Temperatures began at 79 degrees Fahrenheit ambient, and 104 on track, per Firestone.

4:20 p.m. ET: Pagenaud’s 184-plus mph lap stood for maybe a minute or two before Helio Castroneves was quicker, and then Juan Pablo Montoya got into the 185-mph range and Will Power into the 186-mph range.

Now, under the fourth yellow period of the day (all for track inspections and debris), the leading driver is Josef Newgarden at 186.723 mph in the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing. Newgarden’s best time is 19.7041 seconds.

So, simply put, if afternoon times go into the 19.6 bracket, that will eclipse Luyendyk’s lap time mark – even though the speed change has already been set. Times are below with just under 40 minutes to go, with the first runners in Chevrolet aero kits and the fastest two Hondas in eighth and ninth.

Temperatures started at 79 and 106, and have since risen slightly to 84 and 107, per Firestone.

Here are some other nuggets gleaned from the Verizon IndyCar Series paddock:

  • In a brief conversation with Dale Coyne, Coyne confirmed that they’re still working to finalize Luca Filippi but the deal isn’t done yet. For the Indianapolis 500, Pippa Mann’s deal remains all-but-officially-announced in what would be the team’s fourth car.
  • Gary Peterson of AFS Racing is here. The veteran team owner, who also drove many times at PIR in both Atlantic and Indy Lights from the 1990s into the early 2000s, is yet to find a landing spot in the IndyCar Series this year for he and longtime affiliated driver Sebastian Saavedra. Saavedra is among the notable absences this test, along with Sage Karam.
  • The Team Penske liveries here at this test are not final for the season. Per a Team Penske spokesperson, expect the final liveries for all cars to be unveiled next week, although Simon Pagenaud’s new colors have been revealed.
  • Per Firestone, the tire here this test is purpose-built for this track, and is based off the Milwaukee Mile tire. It should be an even more durable tire to handle the more abrasive surface. A display tire of the 100th anniversary commemorative tire is also here.
  • Gabby Chaves brought his seat to Phoenix, so he didn’t need to make a seat fit with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. He just needed his belts adjusted.

We’ll have more to follow throughout the testing, which runs from 12 to 3 and 5 to 8 p.m. local time.

IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”