LONG POND — Mother Nature was the fastest most of the day during the IndyCar test at Pocono Raceway Thursday.
The skies cleared and a few teams got to turn laps on the 2.5-mile track. At around 5:30 p.m., Andretti Autosport driver Marco Andretti ran the first laps of the day.
Andretti’s team Andretti Autosport, KV Racing, Ed Carpenter Racing and Rahal Letterman Lanigan (RLL) Racing teams came to tune their cars for the July 6 Pocono IndyCar 500.
KV Racing and RLL Racing didn’t stick around after the sun came out.
With Mother Nature dominating the speed charts a majority of the day, the 2013 Pocono IndyCar 400 pole-sitter Andretti stressed the importance of having the test day.
“Today was actually going to be pretty important to see if our setup was still going to be good,” he said. “We have a new right-front and new right-rear (tire). It’s just about seeing what the tires do this year and adapting.”
Andretti had the dominant car in IndyCar’s return to Pocono last year, but fuel mileage relegated the No. 25 car to a 10th- place finish in the final rundown. The Nazareth, Pa. native hopes for a better outcome this time around.
“Hopefully better fuel mileage in my case,” he said. “We did learn a bit. I don’t think it’s too smart to go out and dominate and pull everyone behind you.”
His teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay is almost a month fresh off his win in the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500.
“I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it,” Hunter-Reay spoke of the victory. “It’s been a lot of fun. It was great the way the race finished. I relieve those last few laps often.”
Hunter-Reay made a last lap pass for the win on Penske Racing driver Helio Castroneves, who turned laps in day one of the IndyCar test at Pocono on Tuesday.
Other drivers appearing at the test Thursday included James Hinchcliffe and rookie Carlos Munoz of Andretti Autosport; Ed Carpenter with his own team Ed Carpenter Racing; Sebastien Bourdais and Sebastian Saavedra of KV Racing and Graham Rahal of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
Munoz is coming back to Pocono off his win in the Indy Lights Series at the Tricky Triangle last July.
“It was great for me,” he said. “I have to refer to my teammates and this time (in IndyCars) is going to be complicated because each corner is different and will be everything new for me.”
July 7, 2013 marked the return of the IndyCars at Pocono Raceway for the first time in 24 years. With Pocono now back on the IndyCar schedule, some of the drivers wouldn’t mind seeing other tracks added to the schedule, including the 4.048-mile road course at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
The Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) series ran at Road America from 1982 through 2007, with 2005 being the only year the series didn’t run there.
The NASCAR Nationwide Series visits the Wisconsin road course on Saturday as Rahal, Hunter-Reay and Andretti expressed interest of racing there if given the right opportunity.
“I’d love to take a shot at it,” Hunter-Reay said. “In fact, have a shot at winning it in a good car.”
“I think we all have the same answer,” Rahal said among the three drivers. We’re race car drivers. Everyone wants to do it. I think we’re all passionate about IndyCar racing which is exactly why we are where we are, so why not.”
The next race for the Verizon IndyCar Series will be at Reliant Park in Houston, Texas on June 28-29 for a double-header. The week after the circuit will visit Pocono for 500 miles on Sunday, July 6. The race will be televised live at noon ET on NBC Sports Network.