Romain Grosjean was one of 11 IndyCar drivers who headed to the World Wide Technology Raceway on Tuesday for an afternoon and evening test session.
Drivers from Andretti Autosport, Dale Coyne Racing, Ed Carpenter Racing, and AJ Foyt joined the lone Team Penske participant Scott McLaughlin on the short oval.
Grosjean has not run a race on an oval at any time in his career and made the most of his available time, completing an impressive 166 laps in the roughly 10-hour private test.
The Frenchman got the feel for the Gateway circuit quickly, and ended the day eighth on the charts, less than half of a second off the top time.
“Today was pretty good,” said Grosjean after the session. “It was my first time on an oval and it’s very, very different from everything I’ve done before.
“So, obviously, there’s a lot for me to learn on ovals, from the feel of the car, to how to go fast to the feeling of knowing what I need in the car. I want to say that everyone that thinks driving on an oval is easy, is getting it completely wrong! It’s actually very tough, and special, but I had a lot of fun.
“At the end of the day, on the last, long run the car felt very nice and I was happy with it. I think that was key for us today, getting some key data, getting me comfortable in the car and being able to attack on a long run.
“Now we can put it all together when we come back in a few weeks for my first oval race. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Grosjean only recently has been confirmed to be running the upcoming race in August, with the 1.25-mile oval deemed to be the best place for him to dip his toes into the oval waters.
At the top of the timesheets was Colton Herta, who held that spot for much of the evening over Alexander Rossi and McLaughlin.
Rinus VeeKay completed the most laps in the group, running well over half of the distance of the upcoming 500 kilometer race.
The extra practice time gained in this test session will be critical for all drivers, as there is only a single 90-minute practice session scheduled on the race weekend.
The test also mirrored the timeslot for the night race, with running beginning in 90°F (32°C) afternoon heat and extending well into the night.
The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 takes place in just a few weeks’ time on the evening of Saturday, August 21.