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Early chance for Lights stars to run Indianapolis

There don't appear to be any surprises on the participant list for the open test allowing Firestone Indy Lights series runners an early opportunity to hone their machines for Indianapolis Motor Speedway, although two seats remain unfilled for the 5 May session.

Though the Firestone Freedom 100 won't take place until 22 May, teams will get a first look at the Brickyard oval between 9am and 2pm on Tuesday, before the IndyCar Series' rookie contingent undergo the first phase of their mandatory reconnaissance session.

“The test day is going to be more important to us than the others because we're a new team,” said Vision Racing's James Davison, who made his Firestone Freedom 100 debut last year, “We really need the test to get a base set-up and find out what will work on the car and what won't. It's very important to us to develop our package if we want to fight for the championship.”

For a newcomer, the test is equally important, as it will be the first time they get to drive around the track in a car that is second only in speed to the cars that will contest the Indianapolis 500.

"Indy is much bigger than Homestead - where we tested - or Kansas, but I think we should have a competitive car there,” said RLR/Andersen rookie Mario Romancini, who will be contesting his second-ever oval race at Indianapolis, “It's the most important race of the season, and I'm looking forward to it."

Charlie Kimball has competed on some of the most famous circuits in the world as he worked his way up the racing ladder, but has yet to get any time on the world's most famous oval.

“It's hallowed ground,” the American admitted, “It's just like the Monaco Grand Prix or Le Mans - it's definitely one of the most famous and important racetracks in the world. It's a very special place - I grew up watching the Indy 500 on TV, and my family has a heritage there with my dad [Gordon Kimball] winning the race a few times as an engineer.

“I'm excited to driver there, and having a test [beforehand] is good because it's a pretty daunting place if you're not prepared for it. I learned a lot in my first oval race [at Kansas Speedway last weekend], and I got a lot of information that I can take forward, but I can't wait to take my sponsors to the Indy 500.”

For some, turning laps around Indianapolis isn't a new experience, as both series points leader Jonathan Summerton and fellow Lights rookie Richard Philippe won Formula BMW races on the IMS road course. Next week's test will be their first laps on the oval, however.

“I am very excited heading into Indy leading the championship, and I am really excited to do the oval this time,” Summerton said, “I want to win on the oval, and I feel this will be one of the biggest races for me. It's a great chance to be on the same track that the Indy 500 is run on and all I can say is bring on 22 May."

There are no additions to the line-up for Tuesday's test over and above the regulars to have featured in all four Lights races so far this season, but the seat at Alliance Motorsport and second ride at Genoa - the latter already occupied by Duncan Tappy, Jonathan Bomarito and Dillon Battistini in 2009 - remain open.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Junior Strous prepares to take his first laps on the Homestead oval as he gears up for a season in the Firestone Indy Lights Series.
JR Hildebrand, IndyCar, Ed Carpenter Racing
Fernando Alonso, IndyCar, Barber Motorsports Park,
Josef Newgarden, Penske, IndyCar, Barber Motorsports Park
2016 Indy 500, Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Stefan Wilson, 2016 Indy 500
James Hinchcliffe, Long Beach, IndyCar
Dallara, IndyCar, [Credit: IndyCar]
Ed Jones, Dale Coyne Racing, IndyCar [Credit: Ed Jones PR]
Alexander Rossi - Andretti Autosport   [pic credit: Indycar Media/Joe Skibinski]
Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske) celebrates winning the 2016 IndyCar title with victory at Sonoma   [pic credit: Chris Owens]
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Ed Jones celebrates winning the 2016 Indy Lights championship
Kyle Kaiser (Juncos Racing) celebrates at Laguna Seca
Kyle Kaiser - Juncos Racing
Ed Carpenter Racing crew working on the boss` car   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Indy Lights action
Indy Lights title contender Santiago Urrutia, Ed Jones, Dean Stoneman, Felix Serralles, Kyle Kaiser and Zach Veach   [pic credit: IndyCar Media]

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