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All smiles for Penske at Barber

As far as final pre-season test opportunities go, Penske couldn't be happier with their performance on the first day at Barber Motorsports Park.
Team Penske's Will Power was flying at Barber Motorsports Park on Tuesday, on the first of two days of official IZOD IndyCar Series pre-season testing - the final track time the teams will get before the season starts with the first race on March 24 at St Petersburg.

Power set a new unofficial track record for the 2.38-mile, 17-turn road course with a time of 1:07.8625s after the lunch break. His team mate Helio Castroneves was second fastest for the day with a time of 1:07.9388s, just 0.0763s back.

"The car is incredibly hooked up here ... I've never felt so much grip in this car," said Power, looking energised after a lay-off lasting nearly six months since the 2012 season finale at Fontana. "Penske one-two: it's only the first day of testing, but that shows that we worked hard in the winter."

Power was looking good this time last year, too, but his season didn't go according to plan. He lost out on a shot at a maiden Indianapolis 500 win when he was crashed into by Mike Conway, and his championship hopes ended in heartbreak at Fontana when an early crash there allowed Ryan Hunter-Reay to pip him to the title.

"As a team we're very determined to kick a couple of boxes this year: the Indy 500 and the championship are absolutely top of the list," said Power. "We expect to get be fighting for the first few races for sure."

But he was cautious not to talk up his and Penske's hopes based on their performance in this test session.

"It's important to test here to race here [but] it's not really relevant anywhere else because it's a pretty unique track," he pointed out. "We'll get as much as we can out of testing here and when we go to St. Pete it's very different. Very different track, very bumpy and different tyres. We've got to prepare for that, too."

Barber Motorsports Park track manager Mark Whitt explained that the surface of the circuit had been 'polished' in order to prolong its working life.

“It runs like a diamond-bladed polisher horizontal with the surface of the racetrack and takes the aggregate back down to the base," Whitt described the grinding process. "We've been running 10 years so the aggregate gets exposed. We ground the aggregate to get it back down to the base, which makes a smoother surface but more grippy surface."

The extra speed had certainly gone down well with the drivers, and Castroneves was as excited as his team mate about being back in harness at long last. "Wow, it was fun to get back out there today," he said.




Related Pictures

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Dario Franchitti at the wheel of the Ganassi #10. (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media.)
Marco Andretti tries out the Andretti Autosport #25. (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media.)
Ryan Hunter-Reay on track at Barber Motorsports Park. (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media.)
Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver Mike Conway. (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media.)
Ana Beatriz testing the Dale Coyne Racing entry. (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media.)
Penske`s Will Power in the pits consulting with his team. (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Penske line-up Will Power and Helio Castroneves. (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V-6, celebrates his victory Sunday, April 19, 2015 after winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach in the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Russell LaBounty/LAT for Chevy Racing)
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)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 pumps his fist as he crosses the finish line, winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, April 19, 2015 in the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 races to victory Sunday, April 19, 2015 winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach in the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Josef Newgarden in his pit stand. (Photo by: Chris Owens 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 and team boss Roger Penske in conversation on pit lane during practice for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Friday April 17 2015. (Photo by Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves and team boss Roger Penske in conversation on pit lane during practice for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Friday April 17 2015. (Photo by Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power in action during practice for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Friday April 17 2015. (Photo by Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)

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