Penske Tests IRNLS Cars

The first Indy Racing Northern Light Series laps at Nazareth Speedway were turned in on Tuesday, but it was veteran CART FedEx Championship Series owner Roger Penske doing the honors.

Penske and his CART driver Gil de Ferran tested a Dallara-Aurora at the 1-mile track during a two-day test. De Ferran gave Penske his 100th victory at Nazareth last season.

The test, according to Team Penske president Tim Cindric, was in preparation for next year’s Indianapolis 500 and possibly the IRNLS race in April.

“We plan to compete in the Indy 500 next year, and if the opportunity presents itself we would like to run at Nazareth,” Cindric said. “By testing now we have an opportunity to introduce ourselves to the IRL car here at Nazareth in the event that the schedule permits us to race.

“From what we have seen here for two days, with the IRL cars having less horsepower and more downforce than the CART cars, they should put on a great show at Nazareth. This is our home track and it would be nice to be part of the inaugural event.”

De Ferran, who won the most recent CART race at Rockingham Speedway in England, called the test a success.

“We have had two good days of testing the IRL car here,” de Ferran said. “We were able to get in a couple of long runs and improved the cars balance. I am glad we had the opportunity to fit this test into our schedule. This is where I won my first race for Team Penske, it always feels good to come back here.”

As he did last year, Penske may use an IRNLS race as a warmup to the Indianapolis 500. Last season, Penske took drivers de Ferran and Helio Castroneves to Phoenix for the IRNLS’ season-opener. De Ferran finished 24th in that race; Castroneves 18th.

Castroneves went on to win the Indy 500 in May.

The Penske team is expected to make a decision regarding its Nazareth plans in the coming months.

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