BIRMINGHAM, Ala—Will Power led a Team Penske sweep of the top three sports of the time charts as IZOD IndyCar Series teams concluded a two-day Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park.
The Australian had a quick lap of 1 minute, 9.8724 seconds on the 2.38-mile, 17-turn circuit.
Former Formula One driver Takuma Sato, participating in his first IZOD IndyCar Series test with KV Racing Technology, had another impressive outing with the sixth-best time of 1:10.2070. Mike Conway of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing climbed to seventh (1:10.2497) and Marco Andretti of Andretti Autosport was eighth (1:10.3956).
Twenty-one driver/car combinations totaled 2,009 laps in the three sessions (all drivers posted their best laps times in the Thursday's session). The top 14 cars were separated by 0.8399 of a second.
Firestone Indy Lights teams take to the track on Feb. 26 for a one-day test at Barber Motorsports Park.
DAY 2 NOTEBOOK:
The session, which started at noon (CT) due to cold temperatures, was delayed further just after its start by an accident involving reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti, whose car slid off the track in Turn 12 and made hard contact with the barrier, ending his test after two laps. The session resumed nearly an hour later after repairs to the guardrail and grass were made. Franchitti was uninjured in the incident.
2009 Rookie of the Year Raphael Matos also saw his test end early following an incident later in the afternoon.
2006 Firestone Indy Lights champion Jay Howard made his debut for Sarah Fisher Racing, driving 37 laps in Fisher's No. 67 car.
"It was a great opportunity to complete as many laps as I did under the circumstances here today," Howard said. "We were hoping to do a little better, but as long as we learned something as a team, the test was beneficial."
Team owner/driver Fisher, who originally intended on sharing her car with Howard, opted instead to let Howard get seat time.
"We changed our plan slightly with Jay due to our on track time availability being shorter today," she said. "We only had a 12- 4pm window, along with a big accident taking up an hour of that time. We thought it was within our best interests to keep him in car the entire three hours available and learn as much as we could about the car for when we come back. We saw him and the team making big gains with an hour and a half to go, which will give us a good starting point come race weekend in April. We did learn a lot and improved as a team over our test in Sebring, which is the bottom line at day's end."
DAY 2 QUOTES:
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): "It was a good day. We certainly found some good things. We went through a lot of things during the two days. Today, towards the end of the day, we focused on getting outright speed. You can see how tough the championship is going to be- There are so many good drivers and so many good cars and teams. I think it's going to be a very exciting year. You're going to have to really be on your game if you want to win."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske): ""It was a good test for Team Penske. We came here to get back in the groove and get our rhythm going again. We learned some things that will be useful for the race in St. Petersburg and for when we come back here to Barber. I am excited for the team, coming out on the top of the timing chart is great and I hope we do that all season."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske): "We had a real good couple of days testing. We found some set-up information that will be helpful in Brazil, St. Pete and for when we return here, to Barber. The test went very smooth. We were able to work through a long list of testing points. It is real nice to see the Team Penske cars 1-2-3 at the end of the test."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "It was alright. I think we definitely made drastic improvements on the car today for this course. We've been concentrating on just getting development programs scratched off the test list that we've been working off of for the winter. This afternoon was good. I messed up my second to last set of tires by spinning in Turn 13. That was on my second lap so we had to scratch them and go to our last set, but the car was good and pretty close on time. On the last lap I was up a couple of tenths (of a second) but got caught up in traffic. Overall, the car is pretty decent and we're in the hunt which is nice because the last time we came away from this test we were struggling and were four or five tenths (of a second) off. So it's nice to know that we've made some gains to the car and we've got some development items on our test list checked off."