Briscoe pleased with IndyCar test at Texas

IndyCar driver Ryan Briscoe was pleased with the progress of the new car following a test this week at Texas Motor Speedway.

Briscoe worked with fellow Chevrolet driver Tony Kanaan during the session to help IndyCar set the rules package for an upcoming open test at the speedway. The series scheduled the March 13 test to give teams an opportunity to drive the new Dallara DW12 on the high-banked oval — a concern following the death last October of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon at Las Vegas.

“What we are trying to avoid is a pack race situation like we had in Las Vegas,” Briscoe said. “We feel like this car is safer, but we still want to make sure we avoid pack racing, and we’ve got a couple of different options that are going to make the car more difficult to drive.”

Briscoe also praised the handling of the new car, and said it had improved tremendously since he tested it in November at Fontana.

“It was a little bit of a handful the last time I drove it, and it feels like normal now,” Briscoe said. “The balance feels really good.”

But, he said the car was 3-to-4 mph slower than the pole-winning speed of 215.186 mph in last year’s race.

Meanwhile, Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage said the apron in Turns 1 and 2 at the track had been paved in response to IndyCar driver’s complaints that the surface was too rough. He’s heard drivers express concern about the fencing at Texas, which like Las Vegas has its poles on the inside of the mesh wiring. Wheldon was killed when his head hit the post at Las Vegas.

But Gossage and track owner Bruton Smith are adamant the design of the fencing is safe. However, if IndyCar officials would like to add support cables to the existing fence, Gossage would be amenable.

“Our engineers have told us that the design we currently have is what they recommend,” Gossage said. “If IndyCar wants to add some cables, we’ll be happy to do that. We are all for making it safer.”