Mid-Ohio IndyCar test social roundup, notes (PHOTOS)

Photo: IndyCar

There were a mix of different goals and programs to emerge out of Thursday’s test at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, ahead of next week’s Honda Indy 200 for the Verizon IndyCar Series.

We’ll round them up with a mix of social posts and nuggets, below:


Four drivers – Felix Rosenqvist, Robin Frijns, Zachary Claman De Melo and RC Enerson – made their IndyCar test debuts while Jack Harvey returned to the track following a nearly yearlong hiatus.

Oddly it was the two-year Indy Lights veteran, Harvey, who made a rare mistake. An incident at Turn 6 damaged the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda he was testing more than you’d normally expect and according to Motorsport.com, it’s potentially put into doubt a race debut for Harvey later this year in an extra SPM entry. SPM ran a third car for Mikhail Aleshin at last year’s season finale at Sonoma before the “Mad Russian” returned full-time this year.

As for the others, it was fairly smooth sailing.

Rosenqvist impressed on debut with Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, the Swede taking over the usual No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet driven by four-time and defending series champion Scott Dixon, who turns 36 today.

Rosenqvist, 24, was over the moon with his test and called it the “best day of his life.” More here from RACER.com.

Enerson, as noted to NBC Sports last night, couldn’t hide his enthusiasm for the test with Dale Coyne Racing and also called it his “best day ever.” Pure joy was evident for the 19-year-old out of New Port Richey, Fla., who will make his race debut in the team’s No. 19 Honda next week.

Dutch ace Robin Frijns took over the No. 28 DHL Honda of Ryan Hunter-Reay for his IndyCar test debut. Frijns, who was on F1’s doorstep with Caterham a couple years ago and starred for MS Amlin Andretti’s FIA Formula E Championship program this year, welcomed the return to a more higher downforce open-wheel car.

Teenaged Canadian, Claman De Melo, took over in Mikhail Aleshin’s No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda and had a clean day.


With INDYCAR set to outline its aerodynamic parameters among several other details next month, JR Hildebrand (again deputizing for Josef Newgarden at Ed Carpenter Racing) and Tony Kanaan were tasked with running several different aerodynamic configurations on Thursday.

Hildebrand released a photo of the No. 21 Chevrolet sans the rear wheel pod assembly:

Strakes and sidewalls also appeared to be present, which you don’t ordinarily see on a road course.


It seems hard to believe but Conor Daly, who’s been to Mid-Ohio many times as a spectator, has never actually raced there. He’ll do so next week in the No. 18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Honda for Dale Coyne Racing for the first time.

Graham Rahal, last year’s winner at Mid-Ohio, was busy in a quest to mileage out his Honda engine. While his car was still in the Rousseau Metals/RLL livery as seen at Toronto, he’ll be back in the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake colors next weekend.


Juan Pablo Montoya’s No. 2 Chevrolet back in Hawk Performance colors.
Josef Newgarden at test, but not in car. Has been cleared to drive.
IndyCar debutante RC Enerson rolls out for Dale Coyne Racing.
Points leader Simon Pagenaud looks on.
Will Power has won three of last four races and is nipping at Pagenaud’s heels.
Zachary Claman De Melo made his first IndyCar test.
Jack Harvey returned to testing with SPM.
JR Hildebrand filled Newgarden’s car for Mid-Ohio test.
Felix Rosenqvist flanked by Ganassi engineers Julian Robertson (left) and Chris Simmons (right).
Sebastien Bourdais’ KVSH Racing entry on course.
Spencer Pigot in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing.
Montoya doesn’t take too kindly to the idea he’s lost his passion for driving. At least that’s what this photo feels like.

Ford Mustang GT3 test has Austin Cindric dreaming of Daytona: ‘I want to drive that car’

Cindric Ford GT3 test
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Austin Cindric wasn’t the “mystery” test driver behind the wheel of the new Ford Mustang GT3 at Sebring International Raceway, but the Team Penske driver desperately wanted to be.

Ford CEO Jim Farley, an amateur sports car driver himself, made the big reveal via a Tuesday tweet that provided the first video evidence of the GT3 Mustang on track.

“I’ve watched the video in question about a million times,” Cindric said Wednesday during a Ford Performance Zoom news conference to promote NASCAR’s first road course weekend of the season at Circuit of the Americas. “Definitely exciting times for sure. I want to drive that car. It suits my experience level and also the relationships that I have.”

Ford will enter the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next season with its GT3 Mustang, entering a two-car factory effort (that will be managed by Multimatic) in GTD Pro and making customer cars available in the GT Daytona category.

That increases the likelihood of seeing more NASCAR drivers crossing over to IMSA. Cindric has been the only full-time Cup driver in the Rolex 24 at Daytona the past two years, but Ford Performance global director Mark Rushbrook has said the GT3 Mustang will provide more opportunities.

Ford has used its GT4 Mustang as a NASCAR driver development tool in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge with Harrison Burton and Zane Smith combining to win the season opener at Daytona International Speedway in January.

“We’re excited about the Next Gen car and the new architecture there and the similarities between that car and GT3 and even GT4 cars,” Rushbrook said at the announcement of the Ford GT3 program in January 2022 at Daytona. “We think it’s a great opportunity and to do be able to do that in a 24-hour race and get NASCAR drivers even more time is something we need to consider taking advantage of that opportunity.”

Given his sports car background, Cindric probably still would be in the Rolex 24 regardless. He has eight IMSA starts since the 2017 season opener at Daytona, racing a Lexus RCF GT3 and Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the GT category. The 2022 Daytona 500 winner made his second LMP2 start this year with Rick Ware Racing.

But Cindric’s preference naturally would be in a Ford, particularly with sports car racing enjoying convergence and crossovers in both GT and prototype racing.

“It’s an exciting time in GT racing, just as it is now for prototype racing with a lot of new regulations and manufacturers building new GT3 cars,” he said. “And also the opportunity with WEC (the World Endurance Championship) and Le Mans and how that all lines up for that category of car. It’s definitely an exciting time. I want to be as much of a part of that as possible.”

Though those odds seemingly will increase with multiple Ford entries in the Rolex 24 field next year, Cindric said NASCAR drivers still have to put in the networking to land rides as he has in recent years.

“Now how (the GT3 Mustang) relates to specifically NASCAR drivers and how often they want to be in the Rolex, could it be an influence? Absolutely, as far as the tie-in with the manufacturer,” Cindric said. “But the challenge and the drive and the logistics of getting an opportunity for a race like the Rolex 24 will be just as challenging as it always is to find your one-off ride for the race. At least from my experience, that’s what I still anticipate.”

It turned out the “mystery” test driver wasn’t from NASCAR (Farley revealed the driver to be 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Joey Hand after a fan asked whether it was Joey Logano).

But Cindric believes there could be more Cup drivers — and perhaps himself — behind the wheel of Mustang GT3s in the future.

“There’s definitely more of a pathway than I think there would be before as far as Ford drivers are concerned,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity to drive that thing. It’s obviously a great looking car. That’s the first box you’ve got to check. And it’s cool (to have) a guy like Jim Farley, no doubt he’s a racer just as much as he is steering the ship for Ford. It’s cool to see he’s just as excited as the rest of us about it.”