Castroneves: “The track is outstanding.”
AUGUST 3 — Although Charlie Kimball took the ceremonial first lap on Gateway Motorsports Park’s new pavement in a street-legal Honda on July 20, today was the first time Verizon IndyCar Series cars hit the fresh blacktop in full race trim on the 1.25-mile oval in Madison, Illinois.
Eight Verizon IndyCar Series teams tested today on the new pavement in preparation for the August 26 Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline.
The new track surface was a big hit with the drivers.
“It’s smooth like a baby’s bottom. The track is outstanding,” said Brazil’s Helio Castroneves, driver of the No. 3 Penske Racing Chevrolet. “Such a huge job in a short period of time. Congratulations to everyone involved. I compare this place now with Indianapolis or Phoenix, they are so smooth. Hopefully this is the beginning of many more races and I’m happy to be part of it.”
“I think Gateway is going to be one of my favorite (tracks) again,” said Florida’s Ryan Hunter-Reay. “The track is perfectly smooth and it only took me a couple of laps to get up to speed. I really felt comfortable with the car. We were able to go testing right away. We got a lot done this afternoon. I’m very happy with the new surface, absolutely, it’s great. Hopefully it’ll make for some great racing.”
Graham Rahal told Indycar.com, “Not a lot of people would put in the commitment to help us put in an Indy car race, so we’re really appreciative of (track owner and CEO) Curtis (Francois) and (GMP Executive General Manager and Vice President) Chris Blair and everyone. It will be the best short oval race of the year. There will be good drafting and a lot of passing in this one.”
The fastest unofficial timed lap was 24.4 seconds, in excess of 200 miles per hour.
The test was scheduled to run from 4-9 p.m. CDT but started at 2 p.m. due to weather concerns. The eight teams tested from 2-4:30 p.m. without incident and it began to rain during the break. Thanks to persistent showers, the session was called complete.
The Indy Lights Presented By Cooper Tires Series will test at GMP on August 10.
The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline
In addition to America’s best drivers, the inaugural Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline also will draw competitors from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Spain, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.
Tickets for the inaugural Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline may be purchased online at www.gatewaymsp.com/indycar/ or by calling the GMP ticket office at (618) 215-8888. Tickets start at just $35. Kids 15 and under are free (general admission) with a paid adult.
For more information on Gateway Motorsports Park, please call (618) 215-8888 or visit www.gatewaymsp.com. Follow GMP on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.