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Oval rookies get Texas test time

Vautier and Allmendinger were joined at Texas by 21-year-old Firestone Indy Lights racer Carlos Munoz, who has been handed a seat to attempt the Indy 500 by Andretti Autosports.

More experienced hands taking the opportunity to test at Texas - which hosts the eighth round of the 19-race 2013 IndyCar season on June 8 - included Vautier's team mate and compatriot Simon Pagenaud, team owner-driver Ed Carpenter, AJ Foyt's Takuma Sato, and Rahal Letterman Lanigan duo Graham Rahal and James Jakes.

Having more cars on track was a help for the rookies, explained Vautier, especially preparing for the actual Firestone 550 race that he will be competing in two weeks after the Indy 500.

"The challenge coming back here will be all the things you have to do with other people on the track," he said. "The car can react differently from lap to lap by the way it moves around, so that was helpful in general.

"There's lots of grip and you can really feel the compression in the corners, and with the wind it was pretty tricky," he added. "It might be even trickier in June when we come back because it will be significantly warmer."

While Vautier will definitely be competing here in June, Munoz is unlikely to; and the jury is still out on whether Allmendinger will be tempted to stay for a longer stint back in open wheel racing or whether he'll go back to focussing on NASCAR after participating in the greatest spectacle in motorsport.

The formal Rookie Orientation Program itself will be held on April 11 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which is a 2.5-mile circuit unique in motor racing and very different in characteristics from the high-banked 1.5-mile Texas circuit.

All drivers who have not recently competed in the Indy 500 must successfully complete ROP before being allowed to participate in qualifying, in which only the top 33 cars make it into the actual 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 26.



Related Pictures

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Firestone Indy Lights driver Carlos Munoz (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Firestone Indy Lights driver Carlos Munoz (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Tristan Vautier on the second day of pre-season testing at Barber Motorsport Park. (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media.)
Tristan Vautier waits in his cockpit at St Petersburg, Florida - March 2013. (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
AJ Allmendinger on pit road. (Photo Credit: John Cotes for IndyCar Media)
Penske`s AJ Allmendinger in the cockpit. (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Schmidt-Peterson Motorsport`s Tristan Vautier (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Sebastien Bourdais with his son after winning Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto. (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
The red flag is waived halting attempts to start Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto on Saturday. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway and Team Owner Ed Carpenter celebrate victory in Race 2 of the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Sebastien Bourdais gets a congratulatory hug from team co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven after winning Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Chevrolet sweeps the podium with winner Mike Conway (center), driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrating his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. Tony Kanaan (left), driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet celebrates his second-place finish. Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet celebrates his third-place finish. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, takes the chequered flag while racing to victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway on his way to victory in the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway jumps for joy after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway with the winner`s flag after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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