By: Tanner Watkins
February 12, 2020 | 6:00 PM
After trudging through a difficult Tuesday in Austin, Texas, fans and participants surrounding the NTT IndyCar Series were treated to some on-track action on Wednesday.
At the end of a busy day of testing, Team Penske’s Will Power was quickest with a best lap of 1m46.760s. Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi was second-fastest with a lap at 1m46.999s, and fresh face Scott McLaughlin (multi-time V8 SuperCars champion in Australia) was third on the timesheets with a best lap of 1m47.263s.
Surely aware of the relative insignificance that comes with winning a testing day, Power alluded to the strides his team made and how that can prepare him for both the season-opener next month as well as the series’ return to Circuit of the Americas this spring.
“It always feels great, you know,” Power said to INDYCAR. “It’s good for all my guys to see we have the pace. We went through as many items as we could. Obviously, it was very rushed at the end there with red flags and everything, so didn’t get everything done, but kind of some of the big stuff that we needed to know, we understand.”
Indeed, the running was stunted at times for various stoppages – including a brief red flag for McLaughlin going around on his own. The talented driver – who will run with Team Penske in May’s GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis – had a lot to say about his second foray into IndyCar testing.
“It’s an altogether new feeling,” McLaughlin said. “I’m a race driver. I like going fast, so this is a lot faster. I’m having fun. A lot of grip and it’s tough to drive.”
McLaughlin would later add that he would like to shift his racing prospects to American motorsport in some capacity – perhaps, even the NTT IndyCar Series.
“I’d like to explore (IndyCar) more,” said McLaughlin. “And I’d like to explore more in America. I’d love to get to America one day. That’s my ultimate goal. Whether it’s here or whether it’s anywhere, I just want to try to be here one day.
“I love the country. I love the people. I love the sport that it is, and we’ll see what happens.”
In total, 27 different drivers found the track over the two-day testing event – though day two was the only real gauge of speed. All laps turned on day one were well off of race pace in yellow flag conditions.
A few notes to observe and remember moving forward:
- Aside from McLaughlin, two additional IndyCar rookies found their way into the top-10 by week’s end: Arrow McLaren SP’s Oliver Askew (P7) and Dale Coyne Racing’s Alex Palou (P9).
- Colton Herta took to his Andretti Autosport digs quite well for the first time out in 2020 – the offseason rocker was P5 on the time charts today in the No. 88 Honda.
- Sophomore Speed: Along with Herta, second-year drivers Patricio O’Ward (P10) and Felix Rosenqivst (P11) turned in strong drives, while Marcus Ericsson was P19 in his Chip Ganassi Racing debut.
- Santino Ferrucci (who made the move to Dale Coyne Racing’s No. 18 Honda) was 20th on the time chart while the former driver of the DCR No. 18 (Sebastien Bourdais) was 24th-fast in his A.J. Foyt Racing machine.
- While he was only 18th on the speed chart, Dutch rookie Rinus VeeKay logged the most laps this week with 84 laps around Circuit of the Americas. Across all drivers, 1,497 laps were turned.
While there will likely be some spot occurrences of testing before March’s season-opener in St. Petersburg, this will be the last time the public gets a good luck at the cars and stars of IndyCar.
Additionally, the aeroscreen seemed to perform quite well this week – and the teams are really integrating the design into their liveries to produce some attention-grabbing paint schemes.
The season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is just around the corner – which will be shown live on NBCSN on Sunday, March 15 at 3:30 pm Eastern time.
Header image by Chris Graythen/Getty Images.