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With Testing Complete at Phoenix Raceway, the Verizon IndyCar Series heads to St. Petersburg for the First Race of the 2017 Season

Avondale, ARIZ. (February 12, 2017) – The teams from the Verizon IndyCar Series were in the Valley of the Sun on Friday and Saturday testing before heading out on the road for the 2017 IndyCar season.  IndyCar drivers had the opportunity to run in two session each day.  Teams tested in one afternoon session, followed by a night session running under the lights at Phoenix Raceway each day.

Saturday’s afternoon session began at 1:00, shortly after Helio Castroneves took the first bucket of dirt out of the grounds of Phoenix Raceway, kicking off their 178 million dollar renovation project.  Phoenix Raceway will be removing all of the stands from what is now the front stretch and expanding the the stands and suites along the back stretch.  Once completed, the start/finish line will be moved into the dog leg.  The project’s anticipated completion will be prior to the November NASCAR race in 2017.

During the second lap of the afternoon session, Alexander Rossi’s spun entering turn one, backing hard into the wall in turn two.  Rossi hit the wall hard enough that a patch had to be welded onto it. Rossi would make it back out onto the track late in the evening session, but immediately pulled back onto pit road.  Running late in the evening session, Takuma Sato repeated Rossi’s mistake, striking the turn two wall within feet of where Rossi had earlier in the day.  The fastest car of the weekend’s test session driven by JR. Hildebrand was taken out in a turn four incident with just about ten minutes left in Saturday’s evening session.

JR. Hildebrand was the fastest car on the Phoenix IndyCar test session after completing a lap around the 1.022 mile oval in 00:19.0401 at 193.234 miles per hour.  Hildebrand ran a total of 241 laps in the four test sessions.  Ed Carpenter was second quickest with a lap of 00:19.1223 at 192.404 miles per hour.  Carpenter ran a total of 206 laps during the two days of testing.  Josef Newgarden was third quickest with a 00:19.1693, 191.932 mile per hour lap.  Ground breaker Helio Castroneves was fourth quickest with a 00:19.1957, 191.668 mile per hour lap.  Will Power rounded out the top five with a lap time of 00:19.1988 at 191.637 miles per hour.

What did the drivers think?

JR Hildebrand (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): “I think being able to jump in at Iowa this last year was really helpful for me coming here, just to have a little bit of a — Phoenix is different, but it’s more similar to Iowa than it used to be I think in a lot of ways, and not just giving me a chance to get on the short oval aero package and kind of understand what the team’s setup kind of dynamic is, I guess. Definitely helped for me to just get up so speed more quickly that I had that little bit of familiarity with it. We rolled off the truck kind of as we would say just in the window, so it was a lot of just being able to — what we’ve been doing is sort of tailoring the cars to our individual needs, and those aren’t that different, so both of us sort of then working together with our teams to benefit from each other along the way. So that’s all gone smoothly thus far, and we’ll get some more race running in this afternoon and hopefully start off the races — coming back here in a month or two.”

Simon Pagenaud (No. 1 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was great to be back in the PPG Chevrolet. We’ve had a great test so far. We’ve been able to work on a lot of different things and compile some good data. It was a long offseason but that was good for me, but now I’m ready to go.”

Helio Castroneves (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “The Hitachi Chevy felt great. I just love driving that thing. I think we got a lot done so far. Everyone gets caught up in the speeds but testing isn’t always about that which is why I feel really good about the work we’ve got in. Earlier today was really special in being a part of the groundbreaking ceremony for the track renovation. I was honored that they asked me to be involved. It sounds like it will add a lot to the experience here when they’re done.”

With testing during the “Prix View” complete, the Verizon IndyCar Series will be heading to Saint Petersberg, Florida for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.  They will return to Phoenix Raceway for the Phoenix Grand Prix on April 29th.

Scroll down to check out some photos from Saturday’s afternoon and evening IndyCar test sessions at Phoenix Raceway.

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