[Source: INDYCAR press release]
IZOD IndyCar Series competitors Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud along with two-time USAC National Driver’s Champion Bryan Clauson successfully completed IZOD IndyCar Series Rookie Testing on April 5 at Texas Motor Speedway.
The trio was cleared to compete in all oval events by INDYCAR President of Competition and IZOD IndyCar Series Race Director Beaux Barfield, who supervised the test.
“I knew that Josef (Newgarden) and Simon (Pagenaud) would get up to speed quickly, and they did, but Bryan (Clauson) was equally as impressive,” Barfield said. “He was on pace and consistent throughout the day. All three drivers were comfortable and worked the various lines and setups. It was a productive day for all three, even though it was technically a rookie test.”
Unlike the Indianapolis 500, where rookies traditionally pass through four speed phases, Barfield allowed Sam Schmidt Motorsports (Pagenaud) and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (Newgarden) to run their own testing plans and observed how the rookie drivers worked with their teams on and off the track.
“It was my first time on an oval, so I’m not a virgin anymore,” Pagenaud said. ” I enjoyed my first oval experience,. I was running by myself, so it’s a lot easier than running in a pack, but I’m really comfortable and the engineers did a great job making me feel comfortable. This test is all about understanding how the car feels on the oval and getting experience ahead of the Indianapolis 500. I’m just learning. I’m very excited. I’ve started on the right foot.”
Newgarden and Pagenaud completed a day of testing on April 4 with Pagenaud turning more than 100 laps of testing on the 1.5-mile oval in his first-ever oval test. Newgarden, who has oval experience in Firestone Indy Lights, turned his first laps at Texas.
“We’re just trying to get our time in so we’re prepared when we come back in June,” Newgarden said “It’s our first laps with the new car on ovals. It’s interesting to get the car to work on the high line here. It’s a fun challenge to get the car to work right around here. You have to get your car working in all lanes, and not just one of them.”
Clauson joined the pair on April 5 in a car prepared by Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing.
“It feels great to finally get to strap into a 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series car,” Clauson said. ” We had a great afternoon of testing with the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing boys and it feels good to get step one of the Indianapolis 500 process complete.”