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IndyCar returns to Pocono with Firestone test Wednesday

Apr 10, 2013, 6:15 PM EST

After 24 years, the Pocono Mountains had the reverberations of the sound of IndyCar engines echoing once again. The full race at Pocono Raceway will be on July 7, but today marked an appetizer.

Firestone held a tire test session on Wednesday, open to the public, but halted early due to incoming thunderstorms. The Indianapolis 500 tire specification was used as a baseline.

Still, for those testing – Marco Andretti, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power and Dario Franchitti – lap times were near flat and estimated in the high 41-second range around the 2.5-mile triangle oval (more than 214 mph average).

Andretti – fittingly – drove the first laps on track. The last IndyCar race there, held in August 1989, featured his grandfather Mario, father Michael and uncle John in the race.

“For me, it was kind of like a higher-speed short oval really because you have to work, especially in Turn 1,” said the youngest Andretti. “But for me it was about finding the limit kind of in Turn 3, getting a feel for the back end with no banking there.”

The last IndyCar oval race in Pennsylvania was at the now-defunct Nazareth Speedway, the Andretti family hometown, in a 2004 race won by the late Dan Wheldon. That triangle was a fraction under one mile in length and a unique challenge.

Andretti had the quote of the day to describe Pocono by comparison.

“From what I know about it, this looks like Nazareth on steroids,” he said.

Pagenaud, the least experienced on ovals of the quartet, praised the track surface and complex as a whole. The Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports sophomore’s five starts on ovals last year were the first of his career.

“It’s actually good fun,” he said. “It’s very different to any of the ovals we go to.  Certainly with my little experience on ovals, it was quite surprising on the first few laps because it’s really fast out there.

“The track is really smooth.  The surface is awesome for the IndyCars.  Yeah, I’m actually really excited to be here. It was great to be one of the first to turn some laps around here. The speeds are quite impressive already. That’s a good sign.”

Power and Franchitti cracked jokes in the media availability time, but also expanded on the thoughts outlined above. The full transcript from the test can be found here on the Pocono Raceway website.

  1. wallio - Apr 11, 2013 at 8:42 AM

    I couldn’t justify blowing a day off with those storms coming in (looks like I gambled right), so what were the times? Any posted?

    • Tony DiZinno - Apr 11, 2013 at 8:45 AM

      Firestone test so times were unofficial but I followed all day and they progressed from mid-42s to high-41s. Lap speeds from 211 to 214+ mph

  2. wallio - Apr 11, 2013 at 9:10 AM

    Thanks Tony! Yea they show up after 24 years, roll off the trucks and break the track record without really trying, no big deal. lol

    I cannot wait til July 7th!

  3. drylake - Apr 11, 2013 at 7:41 PM

    Love tne comments about Mario wanting to be in the car. For sure he will drive the two seater here.

  4. Jeff - Apr 11, 2013 at 8:59 PM

    I can’t wait for this race.

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