Drivers give thumbs up to IMS road course

Juan Pablo Montoya during Wednesday's test of the road course at IMS.
Published: .
Updated: .

IndyCar drivers are excited about the new road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Former Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya called the changes major improvements. Former 500 runner-up Takuma Sato called it the smoothest road course he's driven in the United States.

And American Graham Rahal said the 14-turn, 2.439-mile course was just plain fun after testing Wednesday.

Will Power topped the speed chart at 124.697 with 90 minutes left in the afternoon practice, more than 100 mph slower than last year's Indianapolis 500 pole-winning speed.

With more passing zones and harder braking areas, IndyCar drivers think it will make the Grand Prix of Indianapolis a more enjoyable race for the fans. The inaugural race is scheduled for May 10.

"Cars going backward around the track, how exciting is that?" said fan Brittany Ashenfelter.

"I think it's cool. I think it is great to have another race to start the month," Power said.

Speedway officials are expecting about 50,000 fans - about what they predicted.

"Absolutely fans are responding," said IMS President Doug Boles. "It's been really strong ever since 2011. Our numbers have been strong, we continue to grow. It gets better every year."

Along with another race, fans will find a new qualification format, more activities in the infield and improved concession food.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)