Power leads opening Day in Birmingham
Dario Franchitti, who won the season opener two weeks ago, was fourth overall and defending race champion Helio Castroneves was fifth. The Newman/Haas Racing cars of Oriol Servia and James Hinchcliffe, who's making his IZOD IndyCar Series debut this weekend, were in the top 10.
Itâ€™s an early day April 9, with a 20-minute session (8 a.m. ET) preceding the three rounds of qualifications (9:25) to determine the PEAK Performance Pole Award winner and set the 26-car grid for the April 10 race.
Beatriz will be re-evaluated early next week by the INDYCAR medical staff. Simon Pagenaud, who last competed in an Indy car in 2007, had a quick lap of 1:14.4426 and was 25th on the time sheet in his fill-in role in the No. 24 car.
â€śMy injury is not as bad as breaking a scaphoid, which is what Bia has done,â€ť Wilson said. â€śIâ€™ve done that and that hurts. This, so far, and this weekend it might change, I havenâ€™t taken a single pain killer. Itâ€™s not as painful unless you irritate it, knock it. I had a carbon brace made to try to support it, stop me from flexing my wrist.â€ť
â€śSo far, so good,â€ť Justin Wilson relayed moments after simultaneously testing his fractured left wrist and the No. 22 Charter Media/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing car for 20 laps on the 2.38-mile, 17-turn Barber Motorsports Park course.
Wilson was 11th on the time chart (1 minute, 13.6526 seconds) following two sessions on the initial day of practice for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy. Not bad considering, â€śbut it could be better.â€ť
"It's not as smooth as I'd like it to be, but we're fighting and I think we'll be OK," Wilson said. "It's just going to be a long, tough race."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske, fastest of the day): "It wasn't a very good session for the Verizon Team Penske car. We had a few problems. We need to have a good think tonight about what we need to do. I wasn't really happy at the end. I went out on new tires this afternoon when everyone else was on old tires and I was able to get on it fairly quickly. This morning we had the same pace as this afternoon. I think the track got a bit slower and we need to find the pace."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Penske Truck Rental, third-fastest): "I think we've unloaded a good car here at Barber this weekend. Team Penske did some good work and preparation from our pre-season test here. We didn't do a lot of running today, but we know the Penske Truck Rental car is good, now we'll just work on making it better for tomorrow. "
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, second fastest): "It was a demanding day as the weather was extremely tough with the rain. Since it was cooler, it was really hard to get the car the way you liked it balance wise and I think this is why you saw so much shuffling going on with the practice sessions. Overall the Target car was good and we were there all day. We didn't end up with the quickest time, but I think we have good speed in the car. Tracks like this that are high speed demand a lot of grip, and when it warms up you have no grip and the downforce is less."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Clorox, fourth-fastest): "Today was certainly a lot better than the open test here. Although we are closer to the front, we are still struggling and it doesn't feel that great. Judging on everyone else's time, I think that several drivers are feeling uncomfortable. We will look at it overnight and the team will hopefully come up with some magic and we will see what we got for tomorrow."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 AAA Insurance Team Penske, fifth-fastest): "The AAA Insurance car was pretty good today and it's good to finish in the top five. We're still working on some things, trying to find better balance in the car. The weather was a little bit different today than what we saw in the test here at Barber so we had to adjust. We'll continue working hard and hopefully we'll have an even better result tomorrow in qualifying."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central, sixth-fastest of the day): "Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing made huge gains this afternoon. The first practice session didn't go as planned; we tried information from the Open Test, but the track changed and it just didn't work. We made big changes, biggest changes I've ever seen, and it proved to work for the second session. The guys did a great job."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing, seventh fastest): "The day started strange; we are still trying to figure out what happened. The Grand-Am series ran in the morning and all day yesterday and there was a lot of different rubber on the track that we thought wasn't going to affect us too much. But the truth is that in the first session, both of our cars were very, very different to what they were at the test and the setup was the same. Not only were we slow but the cars didn't feel the same. We changed the Telemundo car a little bit for the second session but it got a lot better. We think it was just that the track got cleaner when it rained and it became a lot closer to how it was at the test and we were a lot closer to the guys at the front like we were at the test. We didn't get to run a second set of tires in the second session like some guys did so I think we are closer to where we were at the test - fifth or so. There is still more in the Telemundo car. It's only Friday so we hope to keep improving for qualifying and the race which is were the points are given."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE ( No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing, ninth-fastest): "I think we had a respectable first day. Obviously, we came here with different conditions than we had at the test, other series were here and the weather is different. We struggled a little bit this morning in the first practice but the guys worked really hard in a very short break between sessions and we made big improvements on the cars. For the first day on the job as an Indy car driver getting a top-10 in practice for the Sprott car is pretty good. I think there is a little bit more time in it but it's just so competitive. I sit here and think 'Man, I wish we could be a couple of spots higher' and then I look at the names of the guys who are a couple of spots higher and think 'No wait, I shouldn't be anywhere near this.' The racer in me wants a little bit more but realistically I think the Sprott team had a really good first day. Thank you to the team for all of the hard work today."
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, 15th-fastest): "We had more things we wanted to do than we had time for. Staying out of the first session because we are in the top 10 didn't help, but we'd rather be in the top 10 than in the track. I'm fairly please with the way we funneled out the things that are good and the things that are bad. We are a little bit better than what we show on the time sheet. I think we're a top 10 car for sure. That's quite decent for us on this track. Last year, and even now, we struggled a little bit with the set-up but we made some pretty big gains. At the end there, we had a fairly good car to put us in the top 10 we couldn't do the good lap because of the wreck (Viso). I'm very happy with the way things progressed throughout the session considering the limited time we had."
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy/HVM Racing, 17th-fastest): "Well, we only did five laps in the first session, so that wasn't great. But in the second session, I think we improved the car throughout the run. In qualifying tomorrow, it's going to be important to put a lap together and I think we're going to be able to do that. The guys have worked really hard and I'm confident we can have a solid qualifying run out here tomorrow."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Novolog and Levemir FlexPen, 21st fastest): "I continue to keep learning every time I'm in the No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog FlexPen car. We made a lot of changes today - the track is different from the Open Test, but we made progress. The Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team will put all of the information together from today and we'll go out and get it done for qualifying tomorrow."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 KV Racing Technology - Lotus): "It was a difficult, but productive day. We learned a couple of things from the last test and came here this weekend with a different philosophy, which seems to be starting to work. We collected valuable data today, but we have a lot of work to do to improve the car and we need to put everything together for tomorrow."
E.J. VISO (No. 59 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology - Lotus): "It's been a mixed day. In the first practice session we made a lot of changes and little by little we made progress. Unfortunately the session was cut short because of the rain. The second session, I felt the car was much better, however despite a good entry into turn one, my exit was too fast and I found the tire wall. Qualifying here is very important and it's hard to overtake, so I am hoping for a good result tomorrow."
TONY KANAAN (No. 82 GEICO - KV Racing Technology - Lotus): "Today we struggled a lot. The first session was cut short because of the rain, which didn't help. For the second session we tired something I really didn't like and we just ran out of time to make the necessary adjustments."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda): "It was an up-and-down day with the rain. It kind of knocked us out of our rhythm a little bit. But, we're eighth and within reach of the top five, certainly, so we'll go to work tonight. The DHL/Sun Drop car is definitely a lot better than it was last year, so that is a big positive. The gap is only going to close tomorrow; all the competition is going to get tighter, so we're going to have to make some improvements tonight."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom): "We've got some work to do on the Venom car overnight, for sure. But, I think we can get where we need to be. We were experimenting a bit today, but now we're going to go to what we know and hope that it is the right thing for us."
MIKE CONWAY (No. 27 Window World Cares): "I think we're OK, overall. We just went the wrong direction a little bit in the second practice, so we didn't get much time out of the car, but we'll be alright. We'll revert some changes, see what the other guys learned and be ready to go in the morning."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy): "I feel good about practice today. After looking at timing and scoring, the GoDaddy.com car isn't that far off the leaders. I'm hopeful we'll have a strong qualifying run tomorrow. Overall as a team, our cars are solid so I think it will be a good weekend."
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