Will Power ended the first day of official practice in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series with the fastest time at St Petersburg, despite a crash earlier in the day.

The Penske team had needed to work hard to get the #12 car rebuilt in time for the second practice, but Power made their efforts worthwhile by clocking in at 1:00.9431s (106.329mph) on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit to pip reigning champion Scott Dixon to the top of the day's timesheets by 0.0142s.

The time compared with Power's own pole-winning lap of 1:00.6931 seconds (106.676 mph) this time last year, suggesting that this year's engine specifications and aero kits may lead to a new track record at some point over the weekend.

Power had earlier done extensive damage to his car when a momentary distraction in the kink between turns 9 and 10 has resulted in a heavy crash into the concrete barrier that demolished the right hand suspension of his car, but his crew had it ready for him in time to take to the track in the afternoon.

"Definitely had a bad start with the accident this morning, but full credit to the Team Penske guys to get the car back out there, so I could get some laps and get my head around the track and so on. It was a good session. Ran in circles with the setup. Finished P1, pretty happy."

There was a lengthy delay after just ten minutes of running, after the track surface in turn 3 started to break up as a result of the continual battering it received by cars bottoming out. Repair teams were scrambled and the session resumed 40 minutes after the red flag was initially shown.

"I think we're all really excited for the start of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season," said Power. "I know I'm looking forward to racing the new #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevy on the track. It's definitely going to look fast out there with the new design.

"We know it's going to be another fun season on track and it will definitely be tough with all the great competition out there. We've really been ramping up here lately in testing and we expect to have a strong start this weekend."

After topping the times in the morning, Power's team mate Simon Pagenaud ended the day third fastest ahead of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing's Graham Rahal. Takuma Sato (AJ Foyt) and James Hinchcliffe (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports) rounded out the top six.

The fastest rookie of the day was Alexander Rossi in the #98 Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb/Agajanian car, who was 13th fastest of the 22 drivers taking part this weekend and just 0.5767s off Power's pace.

Fellow F1 refugee Max Chilton was 18th fastest on the day for Chip Ganassi Racing, while Conor Daly was 20th just one place ahead of his Dale Coyne Racing team mate Luca Filippi. The slowest man on track was Spencer Pigot who was making his d?but in IndyCar with RLL after winning the Pro Mazda Championship in 20145 and the Indy Lights title in 2015.

There will be a third practice session on Saturday at 11.55am (4.55pm GMT) ahead of qualifying which gets underway later in the day at 3.40pm (8.40pm GMT). A brief half-hour warm-up session on Sunday morning precedes the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg which gets the green flag at 12.52pm (4.52pm GMT).

See full practice 2 times from St Petersburg



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