Notes: St. Pete-Barber diversity is pronounced
Mar 29, 2012
LEEDS, Ala. – Ryan Hunter-Reay and his Andretti Autosport compatriots tested at Barber Motorsports Park as recently as two weeks ago in preparation for third Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama and road courses in general.
Still, the third-place finisher in the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 25 says the on-track activity couldn’t fulfill all objectives.
Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama entrant list || Weekend schedule
Driver performances at Barber || Pit lane assignments || Practice 1 groups
Video: Take a virtual lap || Video: Drivers preview race || INDYCAR Fan Village schedule
"Racing is the absolute best condition to learn about the new car and Chevrolet engine combination,” says Hunter-Reay, who has a best finish of 12 in the pair of races on the 2.38-mile, 17-turn road course. “We are learning something new every lap, and we're only going to get the car better and better. We have to be smart and patient to apply what we can to improve our performance.”
Hunter-Reay, driving the Chevrolet-powered No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda car, recorded a podium finish in the opener for the third time in the past four years, and he’s on a streak of top-10 finishes in nine of the past 10 races.
"It was really important to start the season well and to log a good finish,” he says. “It gives us momentum going toward the championship. But comparing Barber to St. Petersburg is apples and oranges. The tracks are completely different, so the setups we had in the first race don't translate.”
That’s where the test sessions on the road course will play into the weekend that features the 90-lap race April 1.
“Obviously, testing with four or five cars is a lot different than with 26, so I think the track is going to get a lot faster with all the rubber going down,” adds teammate James Hinchcliffe, who matched his career high of fourth at St. Pete in his debut in the No. 27 GoDaddy.com car. “And certainly it will be good to have the whole field there to really gauge where we are in road course trim.”
A softer Firestone Firehawk for Barber road course
Firestone Racing engineers have selected primary and alternate tire specifications that are new for Barber Motorsports Park.
The compounds are softer (less durable) than their 2011 counterparts and were tested in November at the track. The construction has changed slightly compared to 2011 and has been designed to improve grip.
“After winning in St. Pete, Helio Castroneves was very complimentary of the direction Firestone Racing engineers have taken for 2012, noting that tires played a key role in his victory,” Firestone Racing executive director Al Speyer said. “Both the primary and alternate specification Firestone tires proved to be consistent and durable in the first round, and we expect to see the same level of performance at Barber Motorsports Park this weekend.”
Of note: In 2011, Will Power put 31 laps (74 miles) on a used set of alternate Firestone Racing tires en route to leading all 90 laps for a dominant victory.
Honda drivers visit with associates in Lincoln
Honda drivers Scott Dixon, James Jakes, Charlie Kimball and Takuma Sato will visit the Honda Manufacturing of Alabama auto assembly plant in nearby Lincoln, Ala., to visit with associates March 29.
HMA has the capacity to build up to 300,000 Honda cars and trucks annually.
Pruett, Galles Racing to be honored at Long Beach
The City of Long Beach and the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach will honor Scott Pruett and Galles Racing at the seventh Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame induction ceremony April 12 (11 a.m. on South Pine Avenue in front of the Convention Center).
Some of the most celebrated drivers in racing history such as Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan and Al Unser Jr. have secured wins for the Galles Racing team throughout its 22-year history.
The third Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg 5K Run, Walk ‘N Wheelathon on March 23 raised almost $38,000 through the support of more than 700 event participants. All proceeds will benefit the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation and All Children’s Hospital. … KV Racing Technology general manager Mark Johnson said the team has taken measures to rectify the battery issue that knocked out Tony Kanaan after only 21 laps of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. … The 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 souvenir program is a Gold SABRE award finalist. ... Will Power, who set an IZOD IndyCar Series track qualifying record, had the fastest race lap on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn St. Petersburg street course at 1 minute, 2.7575 seconds on Lap 4 of 100.