This year’s NTT IndyCar Series rookies completed their oval orientation at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday, giving them the ability to participate in the upcoming race on the 1.5-mile oval.
Sting Ray Robb with Dale Coyne Racing, Agustin Canapino with Juncos Hollinger Racing, and Benjamin Pedersen with AJ Foyt Enterprises all completed laps and earned IndyCar’s seal of approval.
The three drivers got their first taste of 200+MPH running on Thursday, but strong weather moved through the area in the afternoon and forced a second day of running.
There were no interruptions on the second day, with Friday’s sunny and breezy conditions allowing for as many laps as were needed.
All drivers who have not competed in an IndyCar oval event before are required to complete a set of laps in controlled conditions in order to prove their capability to handle the high speeds.
Typically the drivers are instructed to run a few relatively slower laps on their own, and gradually build up speed under the watchful eye of IndyCar officials until they are allowed to run at full song with other cars nearby.
Per the rulebook, drivers “must demonstrate car control, placement and interaction with other cars on-track to the satisfaction of IndyCar. IndyCar may require additional testing including, without limitation, testing in close proximity to other cars, before an applicant may be permitted to participate in an open test and/or race.”
This rule applies for any oval event, such as the upcoming race at Texas on April 2, due to the unique combination of close racing and high speeds the drivers face during an oval race.
With their own requirements now satisfied, all three rookies will return to TMS with the rest of the field to run the PPG 375 in two weeks’ time, which shares an event weekend with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.