IndyCar testing underway on Saturday at PIR; additional notes

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AVONDALE, Ariz. – The second day of Verizon IndyCar Series testing is underway at Phoenix International Raceway, at the Test in the West, or “PrixView,” or spring training, or whatever you want to call it.

This session started at noon and runs til 3 p.m. MT and local time, with the second session from 5 to 8 p.m. Gorgeous temperatures too, with 76 degrees Fahrenheit ambient and 95 on track at the start of the session per Firestone.

Admission is free to the public, and an autograph session takes place on the outside of Turn 1 from 3:45 to 4:30 p.m.

Tony Kanaan has both the fastest tow and non-tow-assisted lap, just after 1 p.m. MT and local time. Kanaan clocked a 19.4043 lap, at 189.607 mph, which is the fastest lap of the weekend thus far in the No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

“Tow-assisted” is a term you hear rather regularly at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where cars are in super speedway aero configuration, not in relatively high downforce short oval package.

Kanaan’s fastest lap in single-car runs is 188.422 mph.

Prior to Kanaan setting that mark, Josef Newgarden had set the new fastest lap of the weekend in the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing, at 189.527 mph – or 19.4125 seconds – at the 1.022-mile PIR oval. His was also tow-assisted.

So far, 18 of the 21 runners have set representative times, with Luca Filippi, Will Power and Helio Castroneves later to head out in the session. Filippi was out for a longer run after 1 p.m.

In other notes from this morning:

  • The KVSH Racing announcement confirming Sebastien Bourdais was what team co-owner Jimmy Vasser called “the worst kept secret” in IndyCar, but still took quite a bit of time to complete. In brief, the efforts of KVSH Racing co-owner James “Sulli” Sullivan have been key to ensuring HYDROXYCUT returned to Bourdais’ No. 11 Chevrolet, which is the team’s lone full-season entry this morning. Vasser told NBC Sports in a separate interview on Friday – more of which will follow in the coming days – he hopes KVSH Racing will have an extra car at the Indianapolis 500 beyond Bourdais and the PIRTEK Team Murray entry for Matthew Brabham, which shares a technical alliance with the team.
  • Alexander Rossi also came into the media center this morning, and while he didn’t have a ton to report he was still enjoying being here, even in just an observing role.
  • Had a chance to speak to Ric Peterson, team co-owner of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. Peterson confirmed to NBC Sports that SPM is targeting a third car for the Indianapolis 500 as well, as you would expect, given the team has added an extra car in recent years. He said he’d love to continue working with Gabby Chaves, and whether it’s Chaves or another driver, he wants to get the deal done within the next three weeks to a month.
  • Had a chance to check out Firestone’s new 100th anniversary commemorative tire for the Indianapolis 500 on-site. Some interesting notes: The Firestone shield is white on the left hand side, and it is red on the right hand side, for differentiation. Lisa Boggs, Director, Bridgestone Americas Motorsports, told me one of the keys to ensuring the tire design came out clean was that it got all 66 Firestone race winners at the Indianapolis 500 spelled correctly, in correct order. Juan Pablo Montoya, the 2015 winner, is listed at the site of his first win in 2000 – so just before Helio Castroneves. Ryan Hunter-Reay’s name, the 2014 winner, is the last new winner while Ray Harroun was of course, the first in 1911.

More to follow later today on NBCSports.com.