Power leads way in St Pete practice
27 March 2010
IZOD IndyCar Series points leader Will Power carried the momentum he built up in Brazil back to Florida as he set the pace in practice ahead of round two of the season in St Petersburg.
The Australian, who won the season-opener two weeks ago in Sao Paulo, topped the timesheets at the Honda Grand Prix of St Petersburg with a best lap of 1min 02.3200secs in the #12 Team Penske machine.
"It was a good day," Power reported, "We are getting the car better each session. After this run, the car is more like what I like to drive. It feels good. There is a long weekend ahead of us, with weather and everything, but I am feeling good going into tomorrow."
It was a good day for the antipodeans as Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon also proved quick around the 14-turn street course, clocking the second fastest time of the day at 1min 03.0299secs, although the Kiwi wasn't happy at being nearly eight-tenths shy of Power.
"Practice went okay, but the car was not great," he claimed, "We had quite a few issues in the morning session, and the second session didn't start too well. We ended up second, but we are still a long ways from Will. Dario hit the wall, and I was expecting that he would have been pretty quick, as well, so we have a lot of work to do. Hopefully, we can carry some of the momentum from today into tomorrow and make some good changes."
In team-mate Dario Franchitti's absence, after the Scot smote the barriers and wound up only 18th on the timesheets, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Justin Wilson - who finished third in last year's race - claimed a similar position after practice.
"From the morning to the afternoon, we made some geometry changes, and the car had good balance," the Briton reported, "We just need to work on the brakes, and we will be right on. We have a chance to be a top-three car and, with any luck, win this thing."
Andretti Autosport's Tony Kanaan and team-mate Ryan Hunter-Reay, who was runner-up in both last year's St Petersburg race and in Brazil two weeks ago, were fourth and fifth respectively.
"I'm pleased, but it's just Friday," Kanaan cautioned, "We don't need to get ahead of ourselves yet, but it was a good start. The team, as a whole, is very competitive, which is good. We can feed off each other and, now, we just need to get all the data together, make the right changes to the 7-Eleven car for the morning and get ready to get into the Firestone Fast Six."
KV Racing Technology team-mates EJ Viso and Takuma Sato - running Lotus colours for the first time - again gave a good account of themselves, finishing the day sixth and seventh, ahead of Marco Andretti, while two-time St Pete winner Helio Castroneves and 2008 race winner Graham Rahal, who is debuting for Sarah Fisher Racing this weekend, rounded out the top ten.
"The team had a good recovery after this morning's practice session," Viso noted, "If it wasn't for getting caught up in traffic on my last lap, I would have had a good chance of finishing second. I feel very happy with how the car felt, and I think tomorrow's qualifying will hopefully prove that."
Rahal, meanwhile, defied his lack of pre-season testing, and unfamiliarity with SFR, but insisted that there was more to come from the #67 entry.
"I think, overall, it was a pretty good day for myself and Sarah Fisher Racing," he claimed, "I think we made some ground up that last session and made the car a little bit better. We've still got a bit of work to do to make it more secure for me and to find some speed for the rest of the weekend, but I feel like we're headed in the right general direction. Now we've just got to home in on what's going to make the car better and faster and keep the tyres alive at the same time. We had one really good run on old tyres and we went pretty darn quick, so that was good. But there's still a lot of work to be done."
Alex Tagliani, who qualified on the front row in Brazil, headed those to just miss out on the top ten, taking eleventh amid claims that the FAZZT team was 'still searching left and right on the scope of the set-ups', but the Canadian was at least happier than the likes of Ryan Briscoe, in 13th, Rafa Matos, in 19th, and Danica Patrick, who placed just 21st.
"I have to say that I'm pretty frustrated with my overall times today but, at the same time, I'm only eight-tenths of a second off P2," Patrick sighed, "I'm going to get with my team-mates and see what we can do to get the GoDaddy car up to speed. I'm grateful for the practice session we have before qualifying tomorrow."