By Josh Farmer, Contributing Writer
The Verizon IndyCar Series completed their first full-field test with the new 2018 aero kit during this weekend’s third-annual “Prix View” weekend at Arizona’s ISM Raceway.
New year, new tires
- Tire manufacturer Firestone changed their tire formula for the 1.022-mile oval. Cara Adams, chief engineer for Bridgestone Americas, said that the reduction in downforce and drag required some changes to the formula.”The G-Load is significantly lower on the right side tires, they were able to bring a softer construction which has a better contact patch for that reduced load,” Adams told Motorsports Tribune. “So we’ve brought something that is a bit softer in construction on the right side, and the left side compound is a little bit more grip.”
Leist leads rookie contingent
- Brazillian rookie Matheus Leist was the quickest rookie in both Thursday’s Rookie Orientation Program (19.970 seconds) throughout the full-field test on Friday and Saturday. The driver of the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet for AJ Foyt Racing had an eventful two days, spinning in Session 2 and brushing the wall three times on Saturday.
- Driving the No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda, Pietro Fittipaldi was the second quickest freshman of the weekend. The grandson of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi was just .09s off Leist on Thursday and showed some pace on Saturday night with the 10th fastest time of the night.
- Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Robert Wickens also made his oval debut this weekend. The 29-year-old from Toronto, Ontario posted the 16th quickest lap of the weekend during Saturday afternoon’s session (19.749 seconds).
- Andretti Autosport’s Zach Veach also turned some laps, logging the 17th-fastest lap (19.7560 seconds) of the weekend.
Carlin and Juncos Racing make short oval debut
- Carlin Racing made some solid gains during the team’s short oval debut. Drivers Charlie Kimball and Max Chilton tested at the Homestead Miami Speedway in January to shake down the cars before heading to Phoenix. The pair of Chip Ganassi Racing drivers improved steadily throughout the weekend, ending the final session 14th and 16th fastest on the timesheet.
- Defending Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires Champion Kyle Kaiser completed 140 laps in his first IndyCar run on a short oval. A winner at Phoenix in 2015 in Indy Lights, Kaiser made a conservative run and logged a personal best lap of 20.2367 seconds during Friday’s night session. The team left a day early after completing all of the necessary goals of the test.
Will Power quickest of the Team Penske squad
- One-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power carried the flag for Team Penske during the two-day test. The driver of the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet was progressively quicker over the course of the two days before ending the weekend second quickest overall at 19.3878 seconds.
- Reigning series champion Josef Newgarden was just a notch slower than his Australian teammate, notching the fourth quickest time (19.4257 seconds). Defending Phoenix winner Simon Pagneaud was ninth quickest (19.5256 seconds).
Tony Kanaan up to speed with AJ Foyt Racing
- AJ Foyt Racing’s pair of Brazilians in Tony Kanaan and Leist got off to a fast start, with 2013 Indy 500 winner Kanaan finding himself at or near the top of the timesheets throughout the weekend. The 2004 Verizon IndyCar Series champion and 2003-04 winner of the Phoenix Grand Prix set the third fastest overall lap of the weekend (19.4018 seconds) on Saturday evening.
Dale Coyne Racing looking to run four for Indy
- Team owner Dale Coyne confirmed to Motorsports Tribune that the team is planning to enter 4 cars in the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. Pippa Mann – who has driven for Coyne in the 500 every year since 2013 – is expected to return, with a fourth driver to be determined.