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New DW12 off to a fast start at St Pete

"We made a lot of improvements and we feel like there's more time in both myself and the car and so I think we feel good about where we stand both tomorrow and then on into Sunday," said Rahal, who was happy with his best time of 1:02.2924s (104.026mph).

Dixon improved his time in the afternoon to 1:02.3117s (103.993mph), better by almost seven tenths from the benchmark he had set as the fastest man in practice 1, but he was obviously nonetheless disappointed that so many other cars had caught up and passed him.

"We made a number of adjustments in the second session and I think we over-adjusted and got the car too loose," he mused afterwards. "Looking back now I think we should probably have been higher up on the scoring charts."

Inevitably, there were problems elsewhere in pit lane. New series star Rubens Barrichello suffered mechanical problems in the morning that ate into his track familiarisation time and left him languishing down the timesheets at the end of the day.

"With the problem we had this morning, it was pretty much a setback," admitted the former F1 driver, who is finding St Pete a very different sort of track from the Grand Prix circuits that he's used to. "I spent the afternoon session learning the track, while everyone else was now improving their cars. I was playing catch up big time that's for sure. Hopefully tomorrow I can improve a little more from today."

Simon Pagenaud's #77 Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports car was also struggling, with the team's Honda engine becoming the first power-plant casualty of the weekend. As a result he'll take a ten-place grid penalty for an unauthorised engine change. No other engine or mechanical failures were reported on Friday.

"It's just a shame we can't run more this afternoon," said Pagenaud, finally running full-time in IndyCar this season after being the series "supersub" in 2011. "Something didn't feel right, and I shut it down to be on the safe side. It is what it is, and that's racing."

Up till then, he'd been very happy with the way the car was developing, and of course the street circuit was very much playing to the former sportscar star's strengths. "I love street circuits; they provide you so much adrenaline rush. I still think we'll be good tomorrow."

Charlie Kimball provided the only real accident of the opening day of the 2012 IndyCar when he went into the tyre wall at turn 10 nose-first near the end of the first session. There were two red flags in the afternoon, one for Pagenaud stalling at the entrance to pit land and a later one for Dale Coyne Racing's James Jakes spinning and stalling his #19, but neither were serious affairs and Jakes' optimism for a good showing over the weekend as a whole was undiminished.

"Overall it was a pretty good day for the #19 Boy Scouts of America car," he said. "There are a couple things we need to work out with the car, but I am very confident that we will have a good qualifying session on Saturday afternoon."

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 Hinchcliffe, Long Beach, IndyCar
Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske) celebrates winning the 2016 IndyCar title with victory at Sonoma   [pic credit: Chris Owens]
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Will Power - Team Penske
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) on his way to victory at Watkins Glen   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) on his way to pole at Watkins Glen   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Graham Rahal celebrates victory in the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway   (image credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens)
Scott Dixon leads the Indycar field   [pic credit: Indycar media/Bret Kelley]
Will Power - Team Penske   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Jones]
Will Power - Team Penske   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Jones]
Will Power - Team Penske   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Ed Jones - Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Simon Penske - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar media/Bret Kelley]
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Joe Skibinski]
Scott Dixon - Target Chip Ganassi Racing   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/JOE SKIBINSKI]

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