Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing's Robert Doornbos has yet to make his oval racing debut, but should be better prepared when he does after adding another day of specialist testing, this time at the high-banked 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway.
The Dutch rookie is due to make his oval racing debut at Kansas Speedway in the 25-26 April Road Runner Turbo Indy 300, before returning to Texas for June's Bombardier Learjet 550, and opted to try the Fort Worth venue while several rivals took the Kansas option in preparation for the oval season.
“I was very happy to go testing straight away after a race weekend,” Doornbos said between running over 100 trouble-free miles and boarding a flight bound for Portugal and the next A1GP round, “St. Pete is behind us now and we have to focus on a lot of things coming up.
"The test at Texas Motor Speedway went really well, in my opinion. It was the first time for me to drive on such a banked oval, but we were up to speed very quickly - a lot faster than I got up to speed at Homestead - so I am getting the hang of the ovals.
"We found some good things about the set-up, so the engineers did a great job testing new items and the mechanics worked really hard to turn the car around from a street course car to an oval one."
Doornbos admitted that he had few moments as 'the wind licked up' at the end of the day, but was otherwise content with the session.
“Robert got up to speed quickly and acclimatized himself to the high-banked oval,” NHLR general manager Brian Lisles added, “This was the first time we ran the longer wheelbase mandated by the IndyCar Series and we were happy with our lap times. Robert showed plenty of speed for a rookie.”
Elsewhere, four other teams used a portion of their private test day allowance to test on an oval, with Danica Patrick, rookie Mike Conway, Dan Wheldon and Ryan Briscoe running at Kansas Speedway. Firestone Indy Lights driver JR Hildebrand also ran laps in Patrick's car as part of the bonus test programme.