IRL IndyCar Series Wraps Up DIS Test
For the first time since a 1984 Formula One Goodyear tire test, open-wheel cars took laps around Daytona International Speedway on Tuesday and Wednesday. The only other open-wheel racing that took place at DIS was USAC-sanctioned races in 1959 when the facility opened.
Drivers participating in the five-driver, four-car test were three-time IndyCar Series champion and reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. (Marlboro Team Penske), 2004 IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan (Andretti Green Racing), 2003 IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing), the 2005 IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon (Chip Ganassi Racing) and Vitor Meira (Panther Racing).
Dixon participated in the first day of testing while Wheldon was behind the wheel for the first time on Wednesday.
"I'm an avid fan of the Indianapolis 500 and understand the tradition and history of that venue," Wheldon said. "It's a race that I'm very passionate about. I think everybody in England knows that Daytona International Speedway is assumed with NASCAR. To be here in an IndyCar, I think for the drivers, it's fantastic because there's that history there I think everybody respects. I think the people at the track do everything to accommodate the different sanctioning bodies and races that come to this venue. I think it's a race that everybody wants to do. I¿m very excited to be here."
There was an incident during Wednesday¿s morning session as Hornish made contact with the rear of the car in the chicane. The Marlboro Team Penske crew repaired the car and he returned for the afternoon session.
Meira made contact coming out of the chicane in the afternoon session and suffered enough damage that the team left an hour before the test ended.
The teams have been utilizing a 10-turn, 2.73-mile road course throughout the test. Late Wednesday afternoon, drivers shook down the 2.95-mile road course that the AMA motorcycle teams use during Daytona 200 Week By Honda to gather additional track
The IndyCar Series and Daytona International Speedway held the compatibility test at "The World Center of Racing" to determine the possibility of DIS serving as a preseason testing venue.
Wheldon hopes the IndyCar Series returns for not only testing, but maybe someday, a race.
"I¿ve been fortunate enough to meet a lot of the NASCAR guys and they talk about this (track) just like we talk about Indianapolis," Wheldon said. "When you get the privilege of coming to a track like this, you¿re going to grasp the opportunity with both hands. I¿m very glad to be here. I¿m not going to get my hopes up just yet but I very much want to come here. I can just hope."