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Power tops Friday practice at Sonoma

Will Power set the fastest time in Friday practice at Sonoma Raceway ahead of this weekend's GoPro Indy Grand Prix, with his Penske team mate Ryan Briscoe less than two tenths back.
Last year's race winner at Sonoma, Penske's Will Power, was comfortably back in charge on the 12-turn, 2.31-mile permanent road course with a late flying lap of 1:18.6887s (109.114mph) putting him on top of the timesheets after the sole Friday practice session.

"This is definitely a Penske track," lamented Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay, recalling last year's historic 1-2-3 lock-out by the Penske squad. Power agreed that a good starting position could once again prove decisive on race day.

"It will be very important to start up front in the race if you want to finish on the podium - I like the new layout of the track and the track was fast for the first day," said Power. "We'll look at our notes and try to go faster tomorrow. We'd really like a pole position to keep moving forward in the Championship race and we'll see if we can do that tomorrow

Sure enough, Power's team mate Ryan Briscoe was 0.1895s, narrowly ahead of Simon Pagenaud who recorded the third fastest time of the day just in front of Dario Franchitti. Also having good days at the office were road course specialists Rubens Barrichello and Sebastien Bourdais, both of whom set faster best laps than Scott Dixon and Graham Rahal.

Returning to duty after missing the race at Mid-Ohio with a hand injury, Charlie Kimball had limited track time and completed only five laps, after running off the track and hitting the wall at turn 3 early in the session to bring out the first of the session's two red flags.

"It's obviously disappointing to start off practice like that," admitted Kimball. "I overestimated the track grip a little bit and spun off and we weren't able to get back out today. Our teammates are quick so we should be in good shape for tomorrows practice and more importantly tomorrows qualifying."

The other stoppage was for a brief and less serious off for Josef Newgarden at turn 7 near the end of the session. Graham Rahal and Mike Conway received a drive-thru penalty during the session for a pit lane entry violation.

Sebastian Saavedra impressed on his first IndyCar outing since the Indianapolis 500, setting the tenth fastest time in the AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport co-entry which was still within a second of Power's benchmark.

"It was great out there today, I'm very excited to be back in the IndyCar," he said. "It's very different from what I remember from last year. It's been good so far. We've managed to consistently improve the car together with my teammates', and we just need to keep fighting. The front guys are pretty quick and we need to close that gap."




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Will Power in action at Infineon Raceway. [Photo credit: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media]
Chevrolet sweeps the podium as Juan Pablo Montoya (l to r), driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar; Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Verizon Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V-6 and Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet V-6, celebrate Saturday, April 18, 2015 after finishing third, first and second in the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach through the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Russell LaBounty/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Josef Newgarden in his pit stand. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Josef Newgarden apexes the hairpin turn during qualifications for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, celebrates winning the pole Saturday, April 18, 2015 for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach through the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, celebrates winning the pole Saturday, April 18, 2015 for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach through the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, qualifies fastest, winning the pole Saturday, April 18, 2015 for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach through the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves on track at Long Beach on Saturday April 18 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves leads teammate Simon Pagenaud on course during practice for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves on pit lane prior to practice for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves heads down the frontstretch during practice for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach - Saturday April 18 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves exits the hairpin turn during practice for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud in action during practice for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Friday April 17 2015. (Photo by Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud in action during practice for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Friday April 17 2015. (Photo by Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud in action during practice for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Friday April 17 2015. (Photo by John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Conor Daly at Long Beach for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Friday April 17 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Conor Daly at Long Beach for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Friday April 17 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Conor Daly at Long Beach for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Friday April 17 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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