Phoenix Test Draws Rave Reviews

The first official test of the 2006 IndyCar Series season was nothing short of a success according to IRL officials, and the IndyCar Series drivers and teams who participated in the two-day test at Phoenix International Raceway.

“It ran like clockwork and there no complaints from anyone,” said Brian Barnhart, president and COO of the Indy Racing League. “The methanol-ethanol blend debuted in flawless fashion. We had 3,100 miles of testing over the two days and the chassis were great and ran as we expected them to. Honda’s performance was flawless as well.

Four drivers, led by defending IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon, eclipsed the 2005 pole speed of 176.612 mph set by Bryan Herta. Wheldon’s new teammate, 2003 IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, and Marlboro Team Penske teammates Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves also bettered Herta’s pole speed.

“It’s apparent that Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Marlboro Team Penske will be among the contenders for race wins each weekend, which makes the IndyCar Series that much more competitive,” Barnhart said. “Having two of the most recognized and successful organizations in IndyCar racing back on level ground makes the field all the more deeper in terms of competition.”

Barnhart said he was pleasantly surprised by the performance each of the 16 car/driver combinations to turn laps during the test, but added the performance of Vision Racing’s Ed Carpenter and Tomas Scheckter showed that 2006 could be the most competitive season in IRL history.

“Vision was a perfect example of how the sole engine supplier has leveled the playing field for everyone,” he said. “With equal accessibility to equipment, Vision Racing jumped to seventh and eighth on the speed charts.”

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