Dixon, Hinchcliffe Test New Universal IndyCar Aero Kit at TMS

The following is an event recap with photo and video links from Monday’s test session at Texas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval of the new universal aero kit.
Event Recap
The Verizon IndyCar Series’ new universal aero kit made its 1.5-mile oval debut at Texas Motor Speedway as Honda drivers Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing and James Hinchcliffe of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports participated in the one-day test session. The drivers hit the track beginning at 9 a.m. and continued throughout the late afternoon, breaking for lunch to visit with engineers as well as the Dallas/Fort Worth media contingent.
  The test is part of the preparation for drivers and teams to get accustomed to the new aero kits that will debut in race competition beginning with the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season. The series announced in April of 2016 its intentions to move away from aero kit competition and adopt a universal kit for competitors. While the aero kit has already tested on road courses and Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s famed 2.5-mile oval, Monday provided the first steps to learning more about the aero package for Texas Motor Speedway as well as some of the other ovals on the schedule.  
“I think Scott and I were both pretty impressed with it out of the box,” Hinchcliffe said. “It does all the things a race car should do and not a whole lot of what a race car shouldn’t do. Unfortunately, it has been something we’ve dealt with in the past couple of years with the aero kit. I’m excited to finally get some miles on it and keep learning.”
The duo also took part in side-by-side racing during the session to simulate race conditions. While only getting a small sample of what will come when the series returns next year to Texas Motor Speedway, Dixon remains optimistic of the exciting racing the aero kits will provide.
“The biggest thing of all of us is that they’ve done it in a way to make the car perform better – it should be better in traffic,” Dixon said. “It should be much more predictable – a little easier to follow in traffic. In hindsight, we should get some damn good racing.”
While much discussion focused on the handling of the car on Texas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile surface, few could get past the look of the new car. With noticeable differences to the side and rear areas, both drivers enjoy the look of the sleek cars that harken back to the series’ heyday in the 1990s and 2000s.
“It looks like any INDYCAR. Never mind Formula One,” Hinchcliffe said. “It doesn’t have all these ridiculous flicks. It’s a great looking car and reminds me of the era of Indy car racing I fell in love with as a kid.”
“For the fans, I think the car looks cool,” Dixon added. “When the last aero kits came out, I was like, ‘I don’t really like how these look.’ I think everyone is super excited about how these cars look and the speeds. Just in general, how they going to race in general is going to be really cool.”
What They Are Saying
“I think it’s the greatest racing in the world right now. It’s the closest. It’s the most disparity with winners and teams – from big teams to small teams. As a package, I think what the Verizon IndyCar Series has is the best racing right now. There is nothing else out there that comes close to it.” – Four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon on the state of the series.  
“The equality. Bringing everybody back on the same page is going to help close the gap a little bit to some of the other guys that enjoyed a fruitful 2017 season. Honda has done an incredible job on the speedway kit in the past and obviously we are making the horsepower or else we wouldn’t be able to compete and win Indy 500s like we have been. There are definitely tracks that have been a huge disadvantage to us from an aero kit perspective the last three seasons.” – Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver James Hinchcliffe on what he’s most looking forward to with the move to the new aero kits.  
“Robert (Wickens) might be a rookie, but he’s a professional through and through. He’s had six years of top-level, very technical racing over in Europe. He brings a wealth of experience to his ‘rookie’ campaign. For sure, there is going to be a learning curve. Obviously steeper on the ovals – he hasn’t done that before. I think road and street tracks he’s going to get up to speed very quickly.” – Hinchcliffe on the addition of new teammate Robert Wickens to the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports organization.  
“Change is good. I think what the Verizon IndyCar Series has done with the universal aero kit – they’ve spent a lot of hours not just going over with it themselves but with the teams, engineers, fans and public – to figure out what everybody wants. I think going to a universal aero kit makes the racing very tight and in a positive direction, too. There are lots of things to be excited about, especially in 2018.” – Dixon on the exciting changes to the Verizon IndyCar Series.