DIXON LEADS FONTANA PRE-RACE TEST
INDYCAR: Dixon Leads Fontana Pre-Race Test
September 13, 2012
Scott Dixon's car came to life once the sun started to dip below Fontana's Turn 3/4 complex. (Photo: Marshall Pruett)
Target Chip Ganassi's Scott Dixon led a crash-filled test day at Fontana as 22 drivers completed their final laps in preparation for Saturday night's 500-mile season finale.
Two two-time series champion experienced his own drama during the eight-hour test that ran from noon to 8 p.m. PT. Dixon experienced an engine failure just seven laps into his test which forced the No. 9 team to lose a few hours installing a fresh Honda for the Kiwi.
Dixon had a few more niggling problems once he returned to the track, but managed to jump to the top of the speed charts as clusters of cars took turns drafting in the final minutes of the session.
"We had a few issues which took a bunch of track time away," said Dixon, "but we ended up pretty in a good place. Man, this is going to be an incredible race. There's so much going on there on every lap."
Dixon's 215.86 mph lap around the 2.0-mile oval edged Andretti Autosport's Marco Andretti's 215.77 mph lap which had stood as the the fastest speed of the day until Dixon improved upon it with less than three minutes to go.
Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe ended the night with his car slightly worse for wear. (Photo: Marshall Pruett)
Team Penske's Will Power was third on Wednesday, producing a 215.76 mph lap in the hot and windy conditions, while Ryan Briscoe, his Penske teammate, followed in fourth at 215.14 mph.
Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing's Josef Newgarden in fifth with a 214.98 mph run.
Briscoe, who circulated the tricky oval on the high line, was the third and final driver to hit the wall at Fontana, spinning and crunching his left side suspension shortly before testing drew to a close. The Sonoma race winner was uninjured in the accident.
"Aside from the impact at the end, it was a really good test day overall,” said Briscoe. “We did a lot of set-up work on the IZOD car and we learned a ton. We'll take all that information and move forward for qualifying and for the race. Hopefully the car and engine will be in good shape for the rest of the weekend."
KV Racing's E.J. Viso had the back of his car step out at the apex of Turn 1 and 2 at approximately 5:30 p.m., and despite his efforts to catch the slide, his No. 5 entry sailed into the wall, flattening the right side suspension and a bit of bodywork in the process.
Three hours earlier, title contender Ryan Hunter-Reay was the first to find the wall, spinning in Turn 2 while trying a low downforce setup.
The Andretti Autosport driver walked away with a bump on his knee, and his crew made quick work of replacing his left side suspension and changing the damaged Chevy engine in his car.
21 of the 22 drivers ran within 5 mph of each other on Wednesday, with the fastest laps coming at night in the cooler air and more reasonable track temperatures.
The one Lotus-powered car remaining in the field, driven by HVM Racing's Simona de Silvestro, turned the slowest lap on the day as the talented Swiss driver managed a 202.8 mph lap on her 47th tour.
Action resumes Friday morning during a 90-minute practice session for Saturday night's MAVTV 500 where triple-digit temperatures are forecasted.