Dean Stoneman makes debut as Watkins Glen IndyCar testing resumes

Dean Stoneman made his IndyCar test debut as the series' preparations for its Watkins Glen return ramped up with an extensive test on Thursday

Dean Stoneman makes debut as Watkins Glen IndyCar testing resumes

Five drivers had tested at the Glen in June, shortly after it was announced that the famous 3.4-mile road course would step in for the cancelled Boston street event on September 2-4.

Thursday's test featured 20 drivers, including Indy Lights racers Ed Jones, Stoneman, Shelby Blackstock and Dalton Kellett, all participating as part of IndyCar's testing incentives for running drivers from the ladder series.

Jones, currently second in the Lights championship, spent the morning in Graham Rahal's Rahal Letterman Lanigan Dallara-Honda before handing over to Rahal. It was Jones's second test with RLL, having also had a run last summer.

Andretti Autosport gave all three of its Lights drivers - Stoneman, Blackstock and Kellett - mileage in Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Carlos Munoz's cars respectively.

"It was a new learning curve for me and I had been really looking forward to it." Stoneman said.

"We started by getting a feeling for the car with a quick out-lap and an in-lap, so the engineers look over that data.

"It was really enjoyable to drive the car and over the runs we were able to get quicker and quicker, making improvements more and more.

"I was looking at Alexander [Rossi]'s data compared to mine and just seeing where I could improve.

"There are some high-speed corners that just rely on confidence from me - knowing what the car is going to do and the way it behaves."

Unofficial reports from the June test had drivers turning laps several seconds faster than the track record of 1m28.1322s set in 2009. That trend was expected to continue on Thursday, though midday showers did interrupt testing.

The track has been repaved earlier this year and now produces significantly more grip.

Ganassi's Tony Kanaan said team-mate Scott Dixon had told him to expect rapid times after participating in the June test.

"It's nice to be back here," said Kanaan.

"Scott had tested here a few weeks ago and told me it was fast, and I think I didn't believe him as much as it was.

"Really impressive. The last time I was here was with the old car, so now it's much faster and the track is very smooth, so it's nice. It feels good."

Points leader Simon Pagenaud was among five drivers who tested at the Glen on June 20, but was keen to be part of the second test as well given the race's position as the penultimate round of the title chase.

"It's important to come here and get the car ready for the race," Pagenaud said.

"It's definitely going to be a very important part of the championship.

"It's the race right before the last, so obviously it's important to get everything right."

Pagenaud enters the second week of a two-week break in the schedule because of the Olympic Games with a 58-point lead over Penske team-mate and 2014 champion Will Power.

The season resumes at Pocono on August 20-21, with the rescheduled Texas race then following before Watkins Glen's first IndyCar event since 2010.

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