Five teams took part in the final pre-season test of the year at Sebring on Monday ahead of this weekend’s opening NTT IndyCar Series event in St. Petersburg. The test day, booked by Dale Coyne Racing, had A.J. Foyt Racing, Carlin Racing, DragonSpeed, and Harding Racing in attendance.
Sporadic rain complicated the test as teams turned fewer laps and accomplished far less than anticipated as they made one last attempt to ready themselves for the 2019 season.
“It was a tough day,” Foyt sophomore Matheus Leist told RACER. “Rained in the morning, got some laps, rained again, then did more. We did 60 laps, which wasn’t too bad, but it was pretty slick.”
Leist was a revelation on his IndyCar debut at St. Pete in 2018. Qualifying third in his ABC-sponsored Chevy, the Brazilian would show promise until contact ended his day. After trying a variety of other setup options in pre-season testing, the 20-year-old says the Foyt team returned to its successful St. Pete setup while teammate Tony Kanaan explored a different avenue.
“It was the first time I got back to the setup we had at St. Pete last year and that was good,” he said. “That’s the car we’re going to start the weekend with. Tony’s driving a totally different car to get some different data for the team.”
Leist finished 18th in the Drivers’ championship as a rookie, only two spots behind Kanaan, and feels he’s ready to make a stronger impact after learning the ropes from the 2004 series champion and 2013 Indy 500 winner.
“I’m way more prepared than I was last year,” he said. “I knew I could be fast, but didn’t know what to expect race-wise. This year, it’s a totally different approach. Even though the results weren’t what we wanted last year, I’ve had a great team behind me to help me grow. And Tony has been very important for me to learn so many things. I feel like I’m adding way more to the team than I was able to last year. I’m ready.”
Among the other teams, DragonSpeed turned its first laps with driver Ben Hanley as the team shook down its brand-new Chevy-powered Dallara DW12. Issues with the car’s fuel pump kept the car in the pits for most of the day, but a late fix allowed Hanley to rally and complete the last two hours of running.
Teams now head for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg where the first official practice session takes place Friday morning.