The following is an event recap from Wednesday’s Chevrolet test session at Texas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ new universal aero kit that will debut in the 2018 season.
Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden of Team Penske (No. 2 Verizon Chevrolet) was joined by the Ed Carpenter Racing duo of Ed Carpenter (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet) and Spencer Pigot (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet) as Chevrolet-powered drivers had their opportunity to test the Verizon IndyCar Series’ new universal aero kit at Texas Motor Speedway.
The full one-day test session was run with temperatures in the high 60s/low 70s with heavily overcast skies. The test, part of the preparation for drivers and teams to get accustomed to the new aero kits that will debut in 2018, was the second in less than a month at Texas Motor Speedway.
Four-time series champion Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing and James Hinchcliffe of Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports conducted a one-day test Oct. 23 on behalf of the Honda-powered drivers in the series. The Verizon IndyCar Series returns in the 2018 season to Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, June 9, for the Texas INDY 600.
Newgarden, a 26-year-old native of Hendersonville, Tenn., won the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series championship to become just the second American-born champ since 2007. Since American Sam Hornish Jr. won his last series crown in 2006, Ryan Hunter-Reay (2012) was the only one until Newgarden broke through this season on the strength of a series-high four victories.
Many have proclaimed Newgarden as the young, talented and charismatic U.S.-born champion that can single-handedly carry the Verizon IndyCar Series into a new era of success. While he can become a pivotal figure, he is well aware it will take more than just him.
“I can spread the message of what INDYCAR is all about and show people why INDYCAR is so cool, why it is some of the best racing on the planet and why you should check it out, but it’s going to take all of us,” Newgarden said. “It’s going to take the series, it’s going to take all the drivers, it’s going to take the decisions that we make as far as the race car – this new car – that we are putting out. All those things are going to make a difference. It’s not just going to come down to one guy, in my opinion.
“I feel the responsibility of helping with that cause and pushing INDYCAR forward, but don’t feel the pressure that it is all on me.”
What They Are Saying
“Racing’s funny. You get like this – I guess if you want to call it this – ‘temporary’ fame. You come to the race track and race fans are there then, yeah, you kind of have that famous vibe. But if I’m at home in the grocery store, I don’t get bothered that often. … It’s not like I’m Brad Pitt walking down the street, so it’s not that level of difficulty.” –Newgarden on his new-found “fame” after winning the Verizon IndyCar Series championship.
“I knew he was going to be a champion someday, so that’s why we tried so hard to keep him. Josef and I – we’re good friends. Obviously, I’m very happy for him. You’re very happy for him, you’re envious of him, you wish we could have done it together because I know that we could of, but mostly happy for him. I know how hard he worked for that. … Happy for him, proud of him and jealous of him – all of the above.” – Carpenter on his former driver Newgarden winning the series championship after moving to Team Penske this season.
“It really makes me excited to get to work again this off-season and try to do it again. You feel like you deserve to be there with the team and working hard to do it again. That’s kind of the feeling that has changed for me.” – Newgarden on Team Penske preparing for the defense of that series title.
“I think it looks great. I like the fact that it’s a little sleeker and faster looking again. Not to say I didn’t like the way the previous car looked, but the biggest thing for me is I like the rear bumper. Pods are gone. Personally, I think being able to see the rear tires from behind these cars is one of the best angles.” – Carpenter on the look of the new Indy cars.
“Everything getting lower I think is preferred, the side pods getting pushed forward – those are the big aesthetic differences we really wanted. There is more crush structure in the way of the driver with the side pods coming forward, but it looks more like an open-wheel car. The shaping of the side pod looks like a proper open-wheel car. The engine coming lower, having a blow-through roll hoop signifying that’s a turbocharged car. Those little things I think make it look really, really good.” –Newgarden on the new look.
“It feels different; I wouldn’t say drastically different from a feel standpoint. This type of an oval will be less change than some of the other tracks with aero configurations. There’s a small difference just running alone.” – Newgarden on the feel of this car vs. the 2017 package on Texas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval.
“There is obviously a lot of change since we were here before (in June). Still figuring it out, to be honest. Compared to Phoenix, it’s not as different but has a different feel. It makes downforce in a different way and you sense the feedback from the car for me is a little different.” – Carpenter on the feel of this aero kit vs. this past season’s car during testing at Phoenix Raceway and Texas.
“I’m excited to go oval racing again. It’s been awhile since I’ve consistently driven on ovals. I think it will only help that I will be in the car throughout the whole season rather than here and there.” – Pigot on moving from the team’s road/street course specialist in the No. 20 entry to fulltime in the No. 21 entry for the organization in 2018.
“It’s been great. It’s something I’ve never really been a part of before, developing somewhat of a new car with the team. On the road course side of things, it’s been all my feedback. Hopefully, it is a good thing and not a bad thing when we get to the first race. It’s a cool experience to step up into a full-season role and also step up in a development way as well. It’s nice to be here on the ovals and have Ed driving the car a lot. He’s got a ton of experience, someone I can ask questions to and relate to a lot more than when we’ve been doing road-course testing so far.” – Pigot on his role in developing the new aero kit for Ed Carpenter Racing.