21 August 2012
More push-to-pass changes for Sonoma
"It's just three new corners and it's actually quite different," said Ganassi driver Dario Franchitti. “It was almost like learning a new track."
“I think the track is definitely going to promote more passing in turn 7,” speculated Will Power. "The passing zone in 7 is the best one, but if they changed turn 11 to modify the exit curbs a bit it could be good, as well," the Penske driver added. "But good changes, for sure."
"So far it seems really good," said Dale Coyne Racing's Justin Wilson. "It allows the track to drive better and the chicane is a big improvement. It's still going to tough to overtake, but turn 7 is a lot better. Down in turn 11, it's going to be a lot of slipping and sliding. It's tough, but I like it a lot."
"Opening up the turn 9 chicane is definitely a move in the right direction," agreed JR Hildebrand. "I give the track a lot credit for making the changes and trying to adjust."
However, the Panther Racing driver pointed out that, "A lot of the moves were done to help the passing, but until running side-by-side it's hard to tell if it's really going to be effective." He added: "We'll see as we continue to run how it all pans out."
20 drivers in total attended the test day. Official lap times were not recorded, but other sources suggested that Power, Castroneves and Ganassi's Scott Dixon all reached best times of around 1:19.1s.
Drivers will also have the opportunity to take part in extra practice at the course on Friday, when 27 drivers will be in action including Sebastian Saavedra in an AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport co-entry and Katherine Legge in a second Dragon Racing car, her first road course outing since Sao Paulo, Brazil in April.
Charlie Kimball will also be back in action this weekend in the #83 NovoLog Flex Pen Ganassi Racing car, after being forced to sit out Mid-Ohio following injuries to his hand in a practice crash during July. His place in the race had been taken by former GP2 champion Giorgio Pantano.
“It's good to be back in the car,” said Kimball, after running in the August 17 test at Sonoma following his all-clear to return to the cockpit from IndyCar's medical director Dr Michael Olinger. "I think it will ache later tonight. All in all, the doctors cleared me on Wednesday and we made some braces."
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