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Indy Lights drivers take practice round at Mid-Ohio

6/9/2009

LEXINGTON -- One has won races at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, while the other's never been here.

Andrew Prendeville and Mario Romancini, along with eight other drivers, were trackside Monday as the Firestone Indy Lights tested at the 2.25-mile permanent road course in anticipation of their Aug. 9 race.

"It's very tricky," Romancini said.

He learned that much in just three laps. Morning rain cut short his effort until after lunch.

"It's very important for me to get used to the circuit and for me and my engineers to find a good setup," Romancini said. "We know on race weekend we don't have much time. The practice is just one session, and there's not a lot of time to try a lot of different stuff on the car."

Prendeville got about a dozen laps in before the rains came.

"When they repaved this place, they put a lot of sealant down, and that sealant just turns to ice when it rains," Prendeville said. "I just went out in my street car, and at about 30 mph I was in a four-wheel slide."

He opted to wait out the weather, too.

Unlike Romancini, Prendeville has experience to fall back on.

In 2002, he won the SCCA National Championship Run-offs at Mid-Ohio in the Formula Continental class. After that, he competed in the Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 Championship where he also raced at Mid-Ohio. He has also been a part of the last two Indy Lights fields in Lexington, posting a fourth-place finish in 2007.

Topping it off, Prendeville spent a few months working as an instructor at The Mid-Ohio School in 2005.

"I get out here and by the second lap it's all the same. It makes it easier when you're testing and you need to get right to work," he said of his local knowledge. "In a couple of laps, you know where everything is at, and all your reference points are generally the same. You can get up to speed that much quicker."

Prendeville is with a new team, driving for Team Moore Racing, which made this test even more important.

"I want to see what car they really have. I've run here a lot, and I've won here in other series. If we can improve the car, we'll improve it," he said.

Prendeville sits 14th in the points after six races. The Indy Lights season is 15 races with Mid-Ohio being the 12th stop of 2009.

"It seems as if Mid-Ohio is a critical race in every championship that runs here," the New Jersey native said. "It's very important to do well here, and it's very hard to do well here."

That's why Romancini was itching to get in his car and try it out. The rookie from Brazil is sitting third in the points chase, 19 behind J.R. Hildebrand and nine behind Sebastian Saavedra, and is coming off his first victory at The Milwaukee Mile.

Romancini was hoping to get at least a 15-lap stint just to see how his car reacts to the course and give his team a baseline to work from.

"We've never been here before so we don't know exactly what we need," Romancini said. "There is some stuff we want to try that we don't have time to try on a race weekend. That's one of the reasons why we came here to test."

Click Here for Photos from the Test Day

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