A “New Breed of Speed” stormed into New Hampshire Motor Speedway Tuesday, August 31, when two of the top teams from the IZOD IndyCar Series completed the first official testing laps in preparation for next year’s return of IndyCar racing to New England.
The teams, with drivers Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon, are participating in a two-day Firestone Tire Tests. The test wraps up Wednesday.
In just a little less than a year, the IZOD IndyCar Series will race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on August 14, 2011.
“The track is very suitable for these cars,” said 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner Scott Dixon, driver of the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, during a break in testing. “I think we are already averaging over 160 mph. The racing here is going to be unbelievable.”
Sharing the testing responsibilities with Dixon is 2004 IZOD IndyCar Series Champion, Tony Kanaan, driver of the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven car. While he is looking forward to next year’s race, Kanaan knows how important his role is during the two-day Firestone Test.
“For now, we have a big responsibility to get a good package for next year,” said Kanaan during the first day’s lunch break.
Tuesday’s Firestone Tire Test session was open free-of-charge to fans. Wednesday’s testing will be closed to the public.
IZOD IndyCar Series Technical Director Kevin Blanch is one of the many people in the IndyCar community who is excited to return to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Blanch’s enthusiasm for the event cannot only be attributed to the great racing he expects to see, but also to experience the natural beauty that New Hampshire has to offer.
When he was last at NHMS in 1998, Blanch was the crew chief for Panther Racing and driver Scott Goodyear. Blanch was telling Lake Winnipesaukee fishing stories on pit road during a break in testing.
“I rented boats each night for the crew, and there were guys catching big smallmouth (bass) who had never fished before. Each night, we’d lose count how many we were catching.”
Firestone tire engineers brought more than 400 tires for the two-day test. More than 20 different combinations of compounds will be tested. The first set of tires Kanaan and Dixon used was the same compound used at the 2009 race on the one-mile oval in Milwaukee.
“We came here with the Milwaukee (aero) numbers and out of the box we were very close,” said IZOD IndyCar Series technical director Kevin Blanch. “In qualifying, with the package we have now, the drivers can probably get flat (around the 1-mile oval) if the car is really good. In the race, there will be no way you’re going to get flat. They’ll have to constantly work the throttle, which is what you want. We’re also learning here, with the progressive banking, that if the car isn’t quite right, they (the drivers) can just change to the next lane and that helps the car. The track is going to lend itself to really good racing when we get the numbers right on the downforce.”
Both Dixon and Kanaan confirmed this Firestone Test was the first trip to “The Magic Mile” for each.
“It’s kind of refreshing to come to a place that you have never been before,” Dixon said. “It’s nice to branch out to new places and the (fan) following for racing is already tremendous as you can see by the Cup races they have here.”
For Kanaan, his first trip to NHMS was not without its detours.
“This morning I got here late because I realized I didn’t know how to get here,” said Kanaan. “I am not good at directions, so I had to ask at the hotel. I had to stop at the gas station to ask for directions too!”
The next major event scheduled for NHMS is the SYLVANIA 300, September 16-19. Purchase your tickets now by calling the ticket hotline at (603) 783-4931 or by visiting us online at www.nhms.com.
Tickets for the IZOD IndyCar Series race are on sale now. Prices range from $35 to $75. Fans can purchase them by calling the ticket hotline at (603) 783-4931.