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Eight teams test at Pocono ahead of next event

26 June 2013

Eight of the IZOD IndyCar Series teams took a chance to get their first taste of the unique Pocono Racing 'tri-oval' circuit that will be the venue for the next race of the season on July 7.

The eight teams had nominated Pocono as one of their approved private test venues for 2013 as the teams bid to get used to it before the first IndyCar race there since 1989. It's continued to be a regular venue every year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, albeit in the very different stock cars from the open-wheel variety in IndyCar.

Andretti Autosport fielded Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay and EJ Viso, while Penske had Helio Castroneves and Will Power at work after team president Tim Cindric confirmed at the weekend that rumours AJ Allmendinger would be returning to the squad for the Pocono race were untrue.

Sebastien Bourdais and Sebastian Saavedra were present for Dragon Racing while Simona De Silvestro and Tony Kanaan were at work for KV Racing Technology and James Jakes and Graham Rahal turned out for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Also attending were Josef Newgarden (Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing) and Ed Carpenter (Ed Carpenter Racing).

All teams will have the opportunity to test at Pocono next week at the official open test on July 4. Castroneves explained that it was always good to have as much extra track time as possible, even if the lack of a full field of cars out on track meant it wasn't quite the same as the 'real thing' for the drivers.

"It's always good to be out there,” he said. “It doesn't matter if it's today or next week. We're always learning things that can help us. There aren't 20 cars here, but it gives you the knowledge of where to start for the race weekend. It's a good opportunity."

“I've never been to an oval like this," explained Newgarden. "It almost combines a bunch of ovals. You have one corner that's like Milwaukee. Another corner that's like Kentucky and one like Road America with a kink-like corner. It's very unique and very difficult to get right."

As it was a private team test, times weren't officially posted. However observers said that on the evidence of the day's track activities and unofficial timing it appeared that the cars were on course for qualifying speeds of around 219-220mph for next weekend's event.

Panther Racing has already confirmed that former Penske and Ganassi driver Ryan Briscoe will return to the wheel of the #4 National Guard race car at Pocono, fresh from having competed in the Le Mans 24 Hours race, and he also took part in Tuesday's track test time having flown back in from Europe.

The team's managing partner John Barnes confirmed the selection on Twitter on Monday, while also thanking Oriol Servià for helming the car to a seventh place finish at Iowa at the weekend. Servià has said that he hopes to return to the #4's rotating driver line-up for subsequent IndyCar races in 2013.

Wilson to compete at Watkins Glen

Justin Wilson will use this week's 'off' weekend in the IZOD IndyCar Series to enable him to compete with Michael Shank Racing in the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen, which is Round 7 of the 2013 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series championship.

Wilson drove for the team when they won the 50th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona in 2012, and returned to the line-up try defending the title at the start of 2013 when the squad finished on the podium in third place in the race.

Now Wilson is to make a short-notice return to the the series at the wheel of the #6 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley, which he will be co-driving with Gustavo Yacaman after the team's regular driver Antonio Pizzonia hit sponsorship problems.

"I'm very happy to get the chance to race with Mike again, particularly at Watkins Glen," said Wilson. "It will just be like seeing some old friends again, and we can just pick up where we left off at Daytona. I've never raced in the Six Hour, so this is a great opportunity. I'm grateful that Mike rang me to help him out this weekend. As a driver you love to keep busy and I am really excited about this weekend."

"We are very lucky to have someone like Justin available on this short notice, and I want to thank Dale, for letting him race with us at the Glen," said Shank. Wilson finished in 11th place at last weekend's IndyCar event at Iowa Speedway in the #19 Dale Coyne Racing car.

"Unfortunately Antonio's group had some sponsorship challenges, so we needed to develop a new plan for this weekend," added Shank. "It is a shame, as Antonio is a true talent, and we really appreciated his efforts, he was quick right from the start for us."

Engine penalty rule modified

The IZOD IndyCar Series had announced a tweak to the rules affecting the imposition of ten-place grid penalties for unapproved engine changes.

The series officials have added Rule 15.5.8 which states that an engine that fails during a team test, rookie test, engine manufacturer test or straightline test may be changed with an engine from the pool without penalty.

However, the rule does not apply to engine failures at Open Tests in Pocono on July 4, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (July 31) or Sonoma (August 21) where the usual ten-place grid drop for the next race will apply if an engine needs to be replaced before it reaches its 2000-mile lifetime requirement.

Iowa pole winner Helio Castroneves was one of six driver to get a ten-place drop for an engine change last weekend. The others were Scott Dixon, Takuma Sato, Josef Newgarden and Ana Beatriz, together with James Jakes after he crashed in the qualifying heat race.

James Davison tests with Dale Coyne

Former Indy Lights racer James Davison has been testing with the Dale Coyne Racing team this week at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Davidson - the grandson of legendary Australian racer Lex Davison, son of former racer and long-time Sandown Raceway stalwart Jon Davison and the cousin of current V8 Supercars stars Will and Alex - competed in the Indy Lights series in 2008 and 2009, and previously had an IndyCar test with Andretti Autosport at Palm Beach International Raceway in November 2011.

"I've never given up on my IndyCar dream and fully intend to make the most of this opportunity," said Davison on Monday. "I'm grateful to Dale for this opportunity and have a fantastic teammate in Justin Wilson to work with."

Davison was running the same chassis used by Mike Conway when he won in Detroit earlier this month. The team has been running a rotating line-up of drivers in the #18 car this season with Ana Beatriz the most frequent incumbent and Pippa Mann also getting an outing with the team at Texas.


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