Full test times from Tuesday
The first day the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series Open Test at Barber Motorports Park might have been all about Team Penske, but that wasn't the case on the second and final day the teams spent at the 2.38-mile, 17-turn permanent road course in Alabama.
Will Power did manage to repeat his timesheet-topping pace, bringing his laptime down to 1:07.0608s (123.47mph) compared with 1:07.6492s on the first day of testing, but this time Helio Castroneves was pushed down to sixth place in the final standings after an issue with his Chevrolet engine, and Juan Pablo Montoya dropping to ninth after admitting that he had "got behind the track there a little bit at the end, but overall I'm really happy."
"Coming back to Barber, hopefully we found a happy place," said Power for his part. "Obviously the temperature will be a lot different and I think that brings out imbalances in the car. It was so cold today and there was so much grip, I think it was hard to get good reads on changes," he added. "We'll see where we go and head to St. Pete, it's going to be really tight."
Instead it was Dale Coyne Racing's Justin Wilson who came within four thousandths of a second of ousting Power at the top of the timesheets, while last year's series champion Scott Dixon was only a whisker further back in third, only two hundredths back from Power's benchmark.
"It's great," said Wilson at the end of the test. "I just want to know where it puts me on the grid for the race here. Obviously nowhere, so you just have to take it with a pinch of salt. "We like the progress that we've made to the car and the work that the team is doing.
"The last two days have been all about gelling as a team, coming together more than anything else, so I think that helps us going into St. Pete," Wilson continued. "We've got some good ideas we want to try but as far as today goes, when we come back here the track is going to be a lot warmer, it reacts totally different and the set-up probably needs to change," he added. "Probably half the things we think we learned will get thrown out the window. You just have to be careful, I think we're trying to take it very steady and one step at a time."
All drivers improved their times on the previous day's effort, and in total 17 of the 22 drivers at work at Barber on Tuesday were within one second of Power by the finish despite teams once again losing the morning session due to the weather, just as it had been on Monday. There were a handful of brief red flag interruptions during the afternoon for Mikhail Aleshin (whose Schmidt Peterson Motorports #7 stopped at turn 9), Oriol Servia and Tony Kanaan.
Tuesday also saw an announcement regarding safety upgrades to the basic DW12 Dallara chassis to be in place by the Indianapolis 500 in May. A carbon fiber reinforcement ring will strengthen the cockpit opening, and the drivers headrest will be modified to address the buffeting a driver undergoes at bumpy street circuits, while a new engineered plastic foam material will be used to protect the driver's thighs in the monocoque. The road course rear wheel pods will also be strengthened to match the ones utilised on ovals, but the shape is unchanged.
"Part of racing is always is an evolution," said Derrick Walker, IndyCar's president of competition and operations. "The rules change and there are things you'll do this year because you never saw them last year."
Walker added that power steering in the future hasn't been ruled out, and Dallara has been commissioned to investigate a hydraulic steering damper for testing in the near future. IndyCar has stated that it is keen to improve the speed of the current car to the point where the 100th running of the Indy 500 in 2016 will see new lap speed records being set.
Full test times from Monday
Full test times from Tuesday