MADISON, Ill. – IndyCar drivers competing in the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 spent Thursday taking turns on the track at World Wide Technology Raceway.

With just a little more than a week before the Bommarito 500, track owner Curtis Francois reflected on how the race and track have grown.

“There’s so many people in the city pulling the rope together with me as we’re doing something special here,” he said. “We’re making history, and it’s just great to see that what we thought was going to happen, that fans would embrace it, that’s really happening these days.”

Francois can’t wait for fans to explore the Gateway Garage Experience this year; a shot to be part of history.

“Fans, for the first time with IndyCar anywhere in the country, are going to be able to get inside that garage during the pre-race, and see what’s really going on up close and personal,” he said.

Three teams brought seven cars to prep for next weekend’s race. Among them, Andretti Autosport drivers Devlin DeFrancesco and Romain Grosjean.

“I love this place. This place has always been a happy hunting ground for me personally. We’ve been working on our short oval package; we’ve needed to make it stronger,” DeFrancesco said.

Grosjean added, “I’m happy to be back in St. Louis. The first time I drove on an oval was here in ‘21. It was my first oval race. I did the first few laps this morning, and I was saying on the radio, I love this track. It’s a lot of fun.”

Drivers say the track provides some unique challenges.

“This oval is very particular. It’s quite different, one and two and three and four at the back there,” DeFrancesco said. “It’s almost like a fast road course, I think. But as a group, short oval stuff is something we’re really working on. Making the car good in one and two, but not compromising in three and four, and having a happy balance between the two.”

“I think there’s been teams that are faster than us on short ovals. We’ve seen it again in Iowa this year,” Grosjean said. “That’s why we’re here, trying to improve the car and make sure we can hopefully have a decent finish.”

And when they wave the checkered flag next Sunday, Curtis Francois can rest easy knowing another successful Bommarito 500 is in the books.

“It’s just satisfying to see that every year it gets better and better,” he said.