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Dixon, Ganassi set top pace at Sebring

"I'm still a boy playing with a toy, finding out what the toy is capable of giving you," said Barrichello, who was happy to be back on a track that he'd already tested on a month previously. He pipped Conway for the third spot by a slender 0.002s margin to post the fastest lap of the day by a Chevrolet runner.

Asked to compare the relative standings of Honda and Chevrolet engines, Barrichello understandably hedged: "I feel it is really difficult [to tell] until we get to the St. Pete qualifying and race to know where everyone is," he said sensibly.

But he was definitely impressed with Dixon's benchmark laptimes. "The time that Scott set this morning was really fast. It was out of the box. It was really, really fast. Faster than anybody around here from the past week and this week," he acknowledged, adding: "The Team Penske and Target Ganassi are the cars to beat."

Barrichello's new KV Racing team mate EJ Viso was the only driver to have an off in the morning session, causing the session to be red flagged while marshalls reset the tyre barrier. Viso was able to continue testing after he was returned to pit lane and had his front nose replaced, even if presence of the unpainted spare part rather ruined the overall aesthetic of the shiny new livery.

Further back down the timesheets, Ed Carpenter struggled with a misfire problem in his #20 Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet car in the morning that put him well off the pace and behind in his development testing in the afternoon, leaving him further down the times than might be expected for the winner of the final 2011 race of the season at Kentucky.

Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing's Indy Lights rookie transfer Josef Newgarden was also out on track, after the team worked late into the night on Wednesday fitting their brand new Honda engine donated from Bobby Rahal's second car operation. Unfortunately a problem with the car's timing transponder left him with no recorded lap times for the morning session.

There was good news for Lotus Dragon Racing, whose engine arrived on Wednesday and was installed overnight into the chassis and was ready to go out on track shortly after lunchtime. Katherine Legge was able to put the car and engine through 66 laps of running before the end of the day.

"It was awesome to be honest," said Legge. "I obviously have to thank my crew because they worked all the way through the night and all the way through the day today to get me on the track," she added, referring to the all-nighter as a "team-building experience."

Certainly it seemed to have done the trick in breaking the ice: “It feels like home and where I belong," she said of Lotus Dragon. "The team that Jay [Penske] has built this year is incredible, and it's great to have Sebastien's feedback as well."

With only one engine delivered and installed, her team mate Sebastien Bourdais did not run in his own car today and is expected to take over the running of Legge's #6 at some point to get some track time on Friday. But at least Bourdais has already had some recent experience back in US open wheel racing, running a road and street course-only season in 2012 with Dale Coyne Racing. For Legge, it's been somewhat longer.




Related Pictures

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Scott Dixon [Picture Credit: Brett Kelley for IndyCar Media]
Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti check out the timing screens. [Picture Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Scott Dixon [Picture Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Accident for Sage Karam on the first lap of the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Mike Young for IndyCar Media)
Oriol Servia accident during the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Mike Young for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, celebrates his victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Scott R. LePage/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Josef Newgarden in pit lane on Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Friday May 22 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Justin Wilson resplendent in the Rolling Stones livery for the #25 Andretti Autosport Honda in pit lane on Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Friday May 22 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Justin Wilson resplendent in the Rolling Stones livery for the #25 Andretti Autosport Honda on track on Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Friday May 22 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Marco Andretti and Sage Karam at IMS (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
James Hinchcliffe at IMS (Photo by: Mike Harding)
Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies third fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, and will start on the outside of the front row for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Pagenaud will be joined in the front row by by polestar Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest for the May 24 race. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies second-fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, and will start in the middle of the front row for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Power will be joined in the front row by pole sitter Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Scott R. LePage/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates after qualifying fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, winning the pole for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Dixon will be joined in the front row by Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest, and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, winning the pole for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Dixon will be joined in the front row by Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest, and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon after winning P1 at IMS for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis Mile Race on Sunday May 18 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon after winning P1 at IMS for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis Mile Race on Sunday May 18 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon after winning P1 at IMS for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis Mile Race on Sunday May 18 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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