Will Power kept Team Penske on top of the pile at the Barber Motorsport Park group test, heading a sweep of the top three spots as the IZOD IndyCar Series teams concluded a two-day session in Alabama.

The Australian, on his second day of running after recovering from back injuries sustained at Infineon Raceway last summer, posted a quickest lap of 1min 09.8724secs on the 2.38-mile, 17-turn circuit to head team-mates Helio Castroneves - on 1min 10.0084secs - and fellow countryman Ryan Briscoe, whose 1min 10.0459secs effort wasn't enough for him to repeat his table-topping performance of day one.

"It was a good day," Power reported, "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, but 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."

Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon was fourth, ahead of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Justin Wilson, as the top five featured the same names as on the opening day.

"The test went quite well," Wilson claimed, "We were quick early on and we just continued to work through a few changes. Right at the end of the day, we set our quickest lap, which was on the end lap, and finally I got what I was looking for. It's a shame that the lap times aren't shown on the results sheet, but we ended up pretty quick and I am pleased. I'm looking forward to our next test and then onto Brazil."

Former F1 driver Takuma Sato, participating in his first IZOD IndyCar Series test with KV Racing Technology, enjoyed another impressive outing with the sixth-best time of 1min 10.2070secs, as DRR's Mike Conway and Andretti Autosport's Marco Andretti both managed to improve their position. Hideki Mutoh and rookie Mario Romancini completed the top ten.

"It was a very successful day for the KV Racing Technology team considering the weather," Sato commented, "It was extremely cold this morning, so we were unable to run but, once the temperature had improved, we were out on track and I was able to learn a lot from how the car reacted to the different set-ups we tried, which was good preparation for the Brazil race. However, nothing is ever perfect and I am never satisfied, but I am very positive that I have a good feeling of how the car handles and look forward to going racing in a few weeks time."

"I'm very happy to finish in the top ten today considering it was our first time at this track," Conquest newcomer Romancini commented, "Yesterday, I spent the day just trying to learn the new car, but I felt pretty comfortable today so I was able to work with the engineers on a few different set-ups. We obviously still have some work to do, but I think these two days show that we have potential to be competitive and I'm really looking forward to the Brazil."

Former Indy Pro Series champion - and sometime IRL racer - Jay Howard made his debut for Sarah Fisher Racing, driving 37 laps in Fisher's #67 car.

"It was a great opportunity to complete as many laps as I did under the circumstances here today," the Briton 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 explained, "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 Jay in car for 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."

Some 21 car/driver combinations racked up 2009 laps across the three sessions, with all posting their best marks on Thursday and the top 14 being separated by just 0.8399secs. However, the second day, which began at noon due to the continuing cold temperatures, was further delayed just after the start by an accident involving reigning champion Dario Franchitti, whose car slid off at turn twelve and made hard contact with the barrier, ending his test after two laps. Franchitti was uninjured in the incident, but the session resumed nearly an hour later after repairs to the guardrail and grass. Reigning rookie of the year Raphael Matos also saw his test end early following an incident later in the afternoon.

The Firestone Indy Lights teams are due to take to the track today [26 February] for a one-day test.


Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment