IndyCar Series teams are attempting to make every off-season day count.
Every IndyCar Series team is allowed 18 test days starting on November 7th, 2013 through the final race of the 2014 season. Tests are comprised of engine manufacturer, team, Open Tests, and full-size ind tunnel tests. They are also allowed two additional team days for the testing of a rookie driver and two additional team days for testing an Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires driver.
"This is our third test and fourth day with Mike," said Ed Carpenter, the lone team owner/driver in the IndyCar Series. "It takes time to get to know each other and for him to learn how we work and communicate and for us to understand how Mike communicates. That's not the type of thing that happens in one test day, so these days are really important for being prepared for St. Pete. I feel we get better each time we go out."
There are currently three Open Tests on the schedule with the first coming at Barber Motorsports Park on March 17 and 18 followed by tests at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on April 30, and Auto Club Speedway on August 27 in preparing for the races on those courses.
"You have to get the car as best as it can be because it's so competitive (in the series)," said Conway, who won the first of the doubleheader race at Detroit last year. "You have to have a good base setup to start with, which makes things a lot easier. After every day we come out with a lot of positives. I've been learning a lot."
Matt Barnes, race engineer for Ed Carpenter Racing, worked out a testing program before the new year with the engineering staff.
"On an oval track, you usually want to test a race setup," Barnes said. "A team and driver want to run in traffic if possible. At a road course, you could basically be by yourself if you want. Then you can do things all day to improve the car. At a road circuit, you tend to change a lot of things.
"Trying to stay focused on the test plan is the most important thing. You still can be learning about your car even if you are not as fast as others. Often, the manufacturers are doing different programs, too.
"I think we have high expectations what we can accomplish with Mike this year."