Rice tops road track test

Rahal-Letterman Racing driver Buddy Rice set the fastest time during the IRL's first ever road course test at Homestead-Miami Speedway yesterday (Wednesday). The Indianapolis 500 winner was one of five IndyCar Series regulars on hand to take part in the rain-interrupted evaluation of the IRL's road course package

Rice tops road track test

Andretti Green Racing's Dario Franchitti, Ganassi Racing's reigning champion Scott Dixon, Penske star Helio Castroneves and Red Bull Cheever Racing's Alex Barron all drove alongside Rice.

The start of the test was delayed for more than 20 minutes after a rainstorm and then returned to bring the session to an early end.

"It's a big learning curve to take these cars that have been made to predominantly just go left and try and sort everything out, but I think it's going quite well," said Rice. "The biggest change is the braking. We haven't been using the brakes, really. We only use them at a couple of tracks, and we don't use very much brake. The biggest thing is trying to get the thing to brake and understand and get that to work as good as you can.

Rice admitted he was excited to run on a road course again: "I think I'm like most of the guys. Everyone was looking forward to (running on road courses). Everyone wanted to get back to it. It's been nice to be able to come back and do this. I'm excited about it. It's fun to go back and be turning right."

Castroneves agreed: "I'm like a kid in a candy store. I'm extremely happy to be turning right and left again. They did a hell of a job with the braking and the downshifting. Normally, they call me 'the termite' because I destroy gearboxes, but so far, I'm doing very good, so that means it's a great package."

Teams also got a chance to test the cars' wet weather capabilities, as the track remained open to teams despite a shower just after the lunch break. Barron turned several laps in the wet conditions.

"We got a little bit of a late start because of a Chevrolet test at Texas so the truckers had to drive all night, like 25 to 30 hours straight," said Barron. "Once we got out we ran, and things went really well. I'm pretty pleased with everything that we've done so far for the first test with an oval car. We ran in the rain as much as we could, because we're trying to gather as much information as we can in a two-day test so whatever we learn we can apply it to whatever we're doing in the future."

Testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway continues on today (Thursday), when Sam Hornish Jr, Darren Manning and Ed Carpenter are scheduled to join Franchitti, Barron and Rice.

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