SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 17, 2012) – Twenty IZOD IndyCar Series drivers tested the newly modified road course at the raceway in Sonoma today in advance of next weekend’s GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma, Aug. 24-26. 

Below are select quotes from the lunch-time press conference.  A release with complete test details and top lap times will be sent later today.

RYAN BRISCOE (Hitachi Team Penske): “The new layout is good. I think certainly Turn 7, instead of being a double-apex and very technical turn, is a simple hairpin which will be good for racing. It’s really wide, too, which is great for passing. It’s tricky on the exit, as traction is terrible for whatever reason.  At Turn 9, the whole new second part of the corner is really smooth and they’ve done a great job paving it.  At Turn 11 we need to make some small modifications, but all in all I think the changes are good.  The lap times are a bit slower, as the track is a bit longer.  I’m looking forward to coming back and racing it.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (Penske Truck Rental Team Penske): “I have to give big credit to the track because yesterday myself and Ryan Hunter-Reay were out there playing with the rental car and making adjustments to Turn 11 trying to make it suit everyone, but, as you know, race car drivers are very difficult to get to agree on anything.  Right now, without a lot of laps out there, I think it came out really well. Big credit to the track for making it happen.  It just shows it can be done when you ask for it, if there are people who want to make it happen. I think the track is great, and the changes seem to create a lot more passing, but remember the tires are going to go away and that’s where things are going to get very interesting. I think it’s going to be quite exciting.  Right now, I think the basics are pretty good and we just need to finish some small details.  Good job to the entire race track because it’s the first time I’ve seen somebody make it happen like this.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing): “It is definitely an improvement.  When we get it all marked out and finished at Turn 11, it’ll be better still.  Passing opportunities will be more. The DW12 (new car) has proven all year that it races really well.  We’ve put on good shows from the ovals to the permanent road courses and temporary street circuits.  I’m looking forward to coming back next week and racing here. It’s going to be a lot of fun.  The adjustments have all been really good, and it’s nice to see changes being made and everyone working together to put on a better show for the fans, which is what it’s all about.”

WILL POWER (Verizon Team Penske): “Turn 7 is going to be better passing, just the fact that it’s deeper and harder braking and a much wider entry. That was a good change.  Turn 9 is just about the same corner it was, maybe a bit faster and it might set you up for passing into Turn 11.  In terms of Turn 11, the exit curbs in Turn 11 are an issue, I think they’re going to take them out during lunch.  All in all, good changes.  This new car is really quick around here.  My neck is really sore. I think it’s going to be good racing. Everywhere we’ve been where we’ve expected little passing, there’s been a lot. I think there’s going to be good racing here.  Fans are in for a treat.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing): “I think the track is certainly a lot better.  I felt like the chicane (Turn 9) is a lot better.  The new hairpin at Turn 7 is going to be better for braking, and it could give you an opportunity going into Turn 9.  Having Turn 11 extended is much better. Before the turn was too close and you couldn’t build momentum.  I think the track did a phenomenal job making adjustments. One of our biggest challenges as drivers is getting our opinions heard and getting things changed. It means a lot to us to see that.  The new car is great here.  I felt like my car was better at the first test we did here than it is today, so hopefully we’ll figure that out.  It’s going to be fun.  I always love coming here. It’s such a beautiful place.”

 

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GoPro Indy® Grand Prix of Sonoma Weekend

WHAT: Big O Tires Racing Season Presents: GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma

WHEN: Aug. 24-26

CIRCUIT: 2.31-mile, 12-turn road course

2011 WINNER: Will Power (Team Penske)

NOTABLE: The weekend will include Brasil IT+ Pole Day on Saturday, Aug. 25, as well as the Cadillac Sonoma World Challenge and Formula Car Challenge.

TICKETS: $10-$65 single day/$65-$85 weekend; parking is FREE and kids 12 and under are FREE (Friday and Saturday). Garage passes are available for purchase.

INFORMATION: 800-870-RACE (7223), racesonoma.com/indy, ticketmaster.com