BIRMINGHAM, Ala -- Just two days after battling on the streets of St. Petersburg in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Verizon IndyCar Series teams went back to work turning laps at Barber Motorsports Park in preparation for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.
Twenty of the 21 cars and drivers expected to race here next month participated in the one-day team test day with Team Penske opting not to test Will Power’s No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet as the Australian recovers from a concussion sustained in practice at St. Petersburg.
Still an unseasonably warm and windy day meant the teams struggled to find grip at the 17-turn, 2.3-mile road course.
“We didn’t run much this morning because we didn’t want to fool ourselves with cool track and ambient temperatures,” said KVSH Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais. “Qualifying and the race are usually held in the middle of the day, so we’ve planned the bulk of our running then to be as fair to ourselves as we can.”
Barber’s high-speed layout meant cars could stretch their legs and take full advantage of the improvements made by both Chevrolet and Honda during the offseason. But the mid-80 degree ambient temperatures and 100-plus degree track temperatures meant that downforce was at a premium. Adding to the changing conditions was a 20 mph wind.
“Barber is one of the toughest places we come from an engineering standpoint and a driver’s standpoint,” said Jack Hawksworth of AJ Foyt Racing. “We usually come here in the winter when it’s cold and then when we race it’s warm, so it invalidates what we learned, so to be here when it’s warm is very beneficial. This place changes from day to day, run to run so it’s difficult to get a fair back to back comparison, but it’s invaluable to be able to run in race-like conditions.”
Teams return for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 22-24. The 90-lap race is slated for April 24.