Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Take Test Laps, Look Ahead to 100th Indy 500


On Wednesday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a half-dozen Verizon IndyCar Series drivers took part in a test on the 2.5-mile oval. Some were specifically testing Firestone tires while others were testing for their own teams.

And all had some thoughts about being back on the 2.5-mile oval in exactly 291 days for a particularly big version of the biggest race of all – the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

“I think about what it would mean to win the 100th a lot,” Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti said. “That will be the first for the next 100 years. I think an Andretti needs to win that.”

Andretti and Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves were on hand for Firestone, testing various tire compounds for potential use in 2016.

For Castroneves, of course, next year’s “500” is one more chance to join A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears and Al Unser in the four-time winners club.

“I wish I would have said, ‘yeah, I didn’t want to win this year because the 100th would be more important,’” Castroneves said with a laugh. “That’s not the case, but since we didn’t win, now we’re thinking about the 100th and what a special moment it would be. Imagine capturing the fourth, and for Roger Penske. It would be another storybook ending. We’ve got to work hard to make it happen.”

Castroneves’ teammate Simon Pagenaud joined CFH Racing’s Ed Carpenter, Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter Reay and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Tony Kanaan as team testers on Wednesday, driving more for data collection than specifically for Firestone.

Any day at IMS, whether it’s in the pressure cooker of May or a pleasant midweek day in August, is precious for gathering that information.

“Every day is different out here,” Hunter-Reay said. “The wind direction’s completely different from the year we won in 2014, so we’re getting some answers on that, on the tire degradation. It’s a pretty nice day, not overly hot. We’re running the tires long into their life, trying to get some answers on some mysteries that we had during this past May.”

And with that, perhaps inching closer to unlocking next May’s mysteries and possibly becoming one of the most famous winners of The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

“You talk to people, fans, partners, sponsors – everyone’s excited for the 100th and everyone knows it’s going to be big,” Carpenter said. “It’s pretty cool to be able to take part in that historic race. They’re all historic here, but to be a part of that is going to be really special.”

In 291 days.