AJ Foyt Racing and Team 3G have both announced that they will substitute private tests for the IndyCar Series open test scheduled for Barber Motorsports Park at the end of this week.
Foyt driver Vitor Meira tested at the MSR Houston road course less than 100 miles from the team's shop in Waller, Texas, over 10-11 March, while series newcomers 3G is finalising plans for Stanton Barrett to conduct a private test elsewhere before the St Petersburg season-opener on 5 April.
“We're fortunate to have MSR Houston so close,” team director Larry Foyt admitted, “We think the track is more applicable to the street courses because of its surface and its tighter corners, plus we were able to configure the MSR track to mimic some corners at St Pete and Long Beach.
''Since we didn't have to wait for yellows, track inspections and traffic, we were able to get a lot done in the two days we were there. We made some significant gains, learned a lot and now we're going through the tons of data that we acquired which will help us throughout the season. So, for us, it was very worthwhile. We followed it up with some wind tunnel testing, and the things we learned there will make it even more worthwhile for our future tunnel tests.”
Team 3G, meanwhile, has admitted that the two season-opening races have taken much of its attention.
“For us, being a new team, we're very focused on preparing for the street course races at St Petersburg and Long Beach,” co-owner Steve Sudler confirmed, “We're planning on using some of our team testing allotment within the next couple of weeks to get ready for those races.”
The remainder of the teams are expected to continue their preparations for the 2009 season at the 22-23 March test at Barber Motorsports Park, a track largely unfamiliar to series regulars, although seven drivers tested there in October 2007.
“This is the only open test scheduled for a road course,” competition president Brian Barnhart confirmed, “and, while there's not a whole lot of stuff they can be developing in the road course area, this gives everyone the opportunity to get back into road course mode and get ready for the first two races of the year.”
With the first oval round not until 26 April at Kansas Speedway, but with an oval test already staged at Homestead, the majority of the field will grab the opportunity to check that they are heading in the right direction with set-up ahead of the street circuit openers.
“Just to be able to get back into a car on a road course is great because it has been so long since the last race in Australia,” Vision Racing's Ed Carpenter admitted, “It'll help get rid of some of the cobwebs and get back a feel for the car since it's been a while. It'll be a fun two days.”