A test is just that, a test. So, while 21 NTT IndyCar Series drivers took to the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on an overcast Friday, it drew a ton of attention.
See, this was the first time we’ve seen Indy Car’s in Monterey since 2004. It’s also the first test session of the offseason where we’ve seen this many cars at the same venue at the same time.
There’s been a few tests done at Sebring, but none with all the manufacturers at them. With the season set to begin in a little over a month on the streets of St. Pete, it’s time to ramp up the offseason programs for most of the teams.
Speeds are really thrown at the window at most tests as there’s nothing to be gained by going all out. Most of the time, teams are running through a laundry list of things to try and try to gather as many notes as they can before a return trip.
With these cars having not driven on this track in 15 years mixed with not much action this offseason, Friday was more about learning the track itself and shaking down cars.
But, for Carlin, Friday was a huge day for their program overall.
RC Enerson was testing the No. 23 Chevrolet during this test. Last year’s driver Charlie Kimball only has a five race deal with the team for 2019, so they used Enerson for this test. Despite the American not being in this series nor Indy Lights in over two years, he exceled.
Enerson, completed 61 laps on Friday, most of all 21 drivers, and was consistently found in the top eight cars all day. His teammate Max Chilton was fastest overall.
Chilton, circled the California road course with a best time of 1:11.2868-seconds in his No. 59 Chevrolet. That’s big for him as he also led the way in the morning session too. Chilton, is coming off of a highly disappointing season, one where he failed to score a single top 10 finish. So, with no points or money on the line on Friday, to still be P1 is a momentum changer for him.
With Enerson’s strength too, it’s a great step in the right direction for the team overall. Last year was Carlin’s first in IndyCar and they struggled for a big chunk of it. With no much testing at their disposal and a brand new team, it took a while for the engineering department to get the speed that Chilton and Kimball were searching for. These tracks were all new to the employees. But, once they got it all figured out, they were quick from mid season on.
Rookie Felix Rosenqvist was P2 with a time of 1:11.3289-seconds in his No. 10 Honda. Ryan Hunter-Reay was third with a lap of 1:11.3490-seconds while Jack Harvey (1:11.3680-seconds) and Alexander Rossi (1:11.3700-seconds) rounded out the top five.
The Team Penske’s were found up front as they didn’t have a ton of speed. Will Power blew an engine early on in the day as he only turned a handful of laps in his No. 12 Chevrolet. The other two cars were working on different setups, so don’t take a lot of stock in their lack of speed.
AJ Foyt Racing didn’t pound the pavement at all because due to the threat of rain this afternoon, IndyCar allowed teams to forego testing and not lose a day if they didn’t choose to hit the track. So, despite being out in California, the two Foyt cars packed back up this morning and headed to Texas for Tuesday and Wednesday’s test sessions at COTA.
Harding didn’t participate in the test either but unlike Foyt, they weren’t in attendance to do so.
The afternoon session was halted early for rain.