Indy Lights drivers get IndyCar seat time in Sonoma test

Seven rising stars of Indy Lights were paired up with IndyCar veterans in a test at Sonoma Raceway on Thursday.

Indy Lights drivers get IndyCar seat time in Sonoma test
Matt Brabham testing for Andretti at Sonoma
Jack Harvey
Nelson Piquet Jr. with Juan Pablo Montoya
Sean Rayhall
#37 SMP Racing BR01: Mikhail Aleshin

Multiple IndyCar teams were present at Sonoma Raceway on Thursday, running seven Indy Lights drivers alongside the usual suspects. Per the rulebook, teams are allowed two additional on-track days to test a current Indy Lights driver. It’s a valuable opportunity for the young drivers short and long term.

Penske tests Piquet and Pigot

Spencer Pigot, 21, has won four races in his rookie Lights season and drove Will Power's No. 1 Team Penske Chevrolet in the test.

“After a few laps I was able to start pushing more and more. I was able to get comfortable fairly quickly,” Pigot said. “We went through a lot of video and data beforehand, and I talked to Will a lot. Team Penske has helped me a lot to get up to speed quickly.

“This car carries so much speed through the corners and carries so much downforce. It’s a new experience and a lot of fun.”

Nelson Piquet Jr., the newly crowned Formula E champion, was on hand driving for Team Penske in Juan Pablo Montoya's No. 2 machine. He hopes the test might open doors at Penske in the future and was second quickest at the end of the day. 

Indy Lights championship leader goes quickest 

The driver who went P1? Current Indy Lights points leader Jack Harvey, who drove a Schmidt Peterson Motorsports car set up by Ryan Briscoe.

“I loved every minute of it,” Harvey exclaimed. “In Indy lights last year I won both races (at Sonoma), so I was really excited when I knew this track was going to be my first test. I’m pretty happy with what we’ve achieved.

“This car is so much bigger, so much more power. I mean at the end of the day it’s still a race car, but the power and the weight of the car and the size of it were the things I noticed straight away.”

Other drivers on hand

Other Lights drivers invited included Matt Brabham (Andretti Autosport/Marco Andretti), Sean Rayhall (Chip Ganassi Racing/Scott Dixon), Ryan Phinny (KVSH Racing Technology/Sebastien Bourdais), and Ed Jones (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing/Graham Rahal).

Russian driver Mikhail Aleshin was also present for a refresher test with SPM amidst news that he would make his IndyCar return in the 2015 season finale at Sonoma.

“I feel like I’m home. It’s a great team and a very nice car. The difference is very big compared to last year. There’s more downforce now so it’s not very easy, but I have some experience handling it, so I am enjoying it.”

Download the Verizon IndyCar 15 app for more information.

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