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New DW12 off to a fast start at St Pete

A Honda-powered Ganassi topped the first Friday practice but then the Chevrolet-powered Penskes went faster in the afternoon. One thing's for sure: they're all very fast indeed.
Scott Dixon had impressed in the Honda-powered Ganassi car during the first practice session of the season at St Petersburg with a lap of 1:03.0406s (or 102.791mph), but Will Power's efforts in the Penske-Chevrolet car in second practice sliced another full second off that seemingly without trying as he set the best lap of the day at 1:02.0077s (104.503mph).

It was an impressive first day for the new DW12 Dallara chassis and the new-specification engines, that was for sure.

"I'm enjoying it like a kid with a new toy!" said Briscoe, who finished just 0.0854s off his team mate Power's best time. "It already feels faster than the old car around here, braking later. It feels really good, especially the extra horsepower from the Chevrolet twin-turbo V6. It's definitely a different feel."

All of the drivers set their best times in the second practice session of the day, as the 1.8-mile temporary street course got more rubber laid down and grip increased as a result. Last year was similar, with the track seeing times fall from 1:04.1437s in first practice to 1:01.9625s in time for the Firestone Fast Six final round of qualifying on the Saturday, and the fastest lap of the 2011 race set by Helio Castroneves with a 1:03.8683.

"It was definitely a good first day for Team Penske," said Castroneves of his 2012 efforts so far after finishing sixth fastest for the day. "The [Penske] car was very promising. Our second session was much improved and the guys did a good job. I'm very encouraged about our chances for tomorrow and in Sunday's race."

Power's top time was set on just his third lap out in the afternoon, and he only ran seven laps in total in the session. He was quick to say that his limited running time on Friday afternoon didn't indicate any problems with his #12 Verizon car.

"We didn't do many laps in the second session, we wanted to conserve tyres until we have a better understanding of how they degrade and it puts us in a good position for tomorrow in practice," he explained.

Friday at St Petersburg was the very first time that all the cars and drivers have been out in their new chassis and with their new engines, and with a second covering the top 19 cars it proved that the new hardware had substantially increased the level of competition out on track

"It's actually very tight and very close," said Power. "It's pretty good."

Penske are obviously keeping their eyes on arch-rivals Ganassi, with Dario Franchitti, Graham Rahal and Scott Dixon packing out the next three positions from third through to fifth in the day's timesheets and looking ominously strong as a result.

"We're still learning both the engine and the chassis," said Franchitti, whose best time was 1:02.2232s (104.141mph). "The Target guys are working hard on it and we have tonight and a practice session tomorrow to get it right for qualifying. You always have these things when you're developing a new car. It's a lot of work."




Related Pictures

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Will Power happy with the top time during Friday practice on the streets of Baltimore - September 2011. [Photo Credit: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media]
Scott Dixon [Picture Credit: Brett Kelley for IndyCar Media]
Will Power in the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet during pre-season testing at Sebring. March 2012. [Photo Credit: Michael Levitt - LAT for IndyCar Media]
James Davison on track on Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Friday May 22 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Will Power, Mark Miles and Derrick Walker announce the addition of Boston to the 2016 IndyCar Series itinerary. (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe steps into the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda in place of the injured James Hinchcliffe. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, May 21 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe steps into the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda in place of the injured James Hinchcliffe. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, May 21 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe steps into the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda in place of the injured James Hinchcliffe. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, May 21 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe steps into the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda in place of the injured James Hinchcliffe. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, May 21 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
James Hinchcliffe at IMS (Photo by: Walter Kuhn)
James Hinchcliffe during practice prior to Qualifying for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race (Photo by: Leigh Spargur)
James Hinchcliffe at IMS (Photo by: Mike Harding)
James Hinchcliffe at IMS (Photo by: Jim Haines)
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)

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