Notes: ‘Dinger part of Texas test

A.J. Allmendinger, Tristan Vautier and Carlos Munoz are all testing today at Texas Motor Speedway in preparation for their Rookie Orientation Program on April 11 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

As all three are Indianapolis 500 rookies, they'll have to pass the three-phase ROP in order to practice with the veterans at the Brickyard in May. The phases consist of 10 laps at 200-205 mph, 10 laps at 205-209 mph, and 15 laps at 210+ mph. Rookies must complete two of the three phases on April 11, and the final one can be completed on any '500' practice day before Pole Day on May 18.

However, IndyCar race director Beaux Barfield said that for this test at Texas, speed phases won't be enforced by the series. Instead, he's looking to give 'Dinger, Vautier and Munoz a chance to acclimate themselves to higher speeds before going out to IMS.

"Texas Motor Speedway is a difficult place to race, but it's not as difficult to get up to speed for the first time as Indianapolis Motor Speedway, so it's a good opportunity for these guys to get comfortable with the speeds," Barfield told

A group of veteran drivers will also test later on today. That group includes Graham Rahal, James Jakes, Simon Pagenaud, Takuma Sato and Ed Carpenter.


Marco Andretti was busy over the off-season reworking his driving style to be more competitive on road and street circuits. It appears the hard work is paying off, as he managed to come away with a podium last weekend in St. Petersburg.

"It's always been tough because even though we usually do well here, I have always been on the outside looking in," he said on Sunday after finishing third. "Not being in the [Firestone] Fast Six actually benefited me, because I had that fresh set of tires in the end.

"Finishing third is nice, but a couple places higher would have been better. You can't get greedy about days like this, because we do this week in and week out. It feels good to finally see the rewards for the amount of hard work you put in."

Andretti's podium was his first on a road/street course since 2011. He achieved it by getting by both Tony Kanaan and Simona de Silvestro in the final laps.

No technical penalties were issued following Sunday's race…NBC Sports Network's coverage of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg netted a .26 household rating, up 53 percent over the network's first race of 2012 (.17). Altogether, the broadcast garnered 388,000 viewers…James Hinchcliffe's win gives him the chance to become the sixth driver to win both the season-opening race and the IZOD IndyCar Series title. The others: Buzz Calkins (1996), Sam Hornish Jr. (2001/2002), Scott Dixon (2003/2008), Dan Wheldon (2005) and Dario Franchitti (2011)…Jack Hawksworth's victory in the Firestone Indy Lights' St. Petersburg 100 last Saturday made him the eighth different driver to win their Lights debut…Dreamworks' upcoming movie "Turbo" — which is about a snail that gains super speed and attempts to win the Indianapolis 500 — has put out its second official trailer. The movie drops July 17.