Penske drivers dominate final day at Daytona
Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr., led the final day of the IndyCar Series' Open Test at the Daytona International Speedway.
Castroneves led the morning session with a lap of 1 minute, 12.6128 seconds, 134.852 mph in the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Hornish was just behind at 1:12.7670, 134.566 mph in the No. 6 Team Penske Honda-powered Dallara. Dan Wheldon (134.438 mph), Tony Kanaan (134.299 mph) and Scott Dixon (134.120 mph) rounded out the fast five for the day.
"First, thanks to the Daytona track," Castroneves said. "This morning they went out and tried to fix Turn 5, which at the beginning we were swaying in and out. But it looks like in the end, people were getting use to it. There was certainly an improvement. The winds shifted today. That's why we had a little bit of a hard time. The wind was the opposite from yesterday and some corners, especially the bus stop, affected a lot of the drivers. At the end of the day, we were able to test quite well and try a lot of things. Both Sam and I tried to discuss everything. It was a great and productive test for Team Penske.
Danica Patrick continued to lag way behind her Andretti Green Racing teammates in identical equipment.
Rain began falling shortly before 3 p.m. (EDT), and though the track remained open, teams chose to end the session about an hour earlier than scheduled. In all, 707 laps were turned.
The IndyCar Series will conduct its final preseason Open Test on Feb. 21-22 at the 1.5-mile oval at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Afternoon Speeds (Above write-up is based on morning speeds)
Pos Driver Gap to First Best Time Best Speed
1 Helio Castroneves (3) ... 1:12.3538 135.335
2 Tony Kanaan (11) 0.6417 1:12.9955 134.145
3 Scott Dixon (9) 0.6555 1:13.0093 134.120
4 Dan Wheldon (10) 0.6740 1:13.0278 134.086
5 Marco Andretti (26) 0.7826 1:13.1364 133.887
6 Sam Hornish Jr (6) 0.9531 1:13.3069 133.575
7 Dario Franchitti (27) 0.9970 1:13.3508 133.495
8 Jeff Simmons (17) 1.1268 1:13.4806 133.260
9 AJ Foyt IV (22) 1.3693 1:13.7231 132.821
10 Tomas Scheckter (2) 1.4571 1:13.8109 132.663
11 Kosuke Matsuura (55) 1.6015 1:13.9553 132.404
12 Vitor Meira (4) 1.6689 1:14.0227 132.284
13 Buddy Rice (15) 1.9597 1:14.3135 131.766
14 Danica Patrick (7) 2.0279 1:14.3817 131.645
15 Darren Manning (14) 2.6097 1:14.9635 130.624
16 Ed Carpenter (20) 2.6272 1:14.9810 130.593
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, second fastest): "Everything seemed to go well for us. We just went out there and tried to stay out of trouble. The track is definitely challenging. It's a good place to be between the high downforce set up and the less downforce, so we try to gain time on the superspeedway portion or the infield. We had a good couple days and we're just trying to make small changes. The track is a lot of fun to drive. It's definitely one of my favorite places we've tested at for road courses. As far as the new Honda engine goes, things seemed to go really well. It seems to have a little more torque off the corners and creates a little more wheel spin. It brings a little more of the driver back into it - the human thought and control, trying to keep the tires underneath you. It's a new opportunity for me to try to learn a little more and try to get a little better.
DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/ Firestone, third fastest): "The Daytona Open Test went really well for the No.10 Target car. We got a lot done, and running the road course in the Dallara had me feeling much more comfortable and confident. It's a nice way to get the season started."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fourth fastest): "I think we did some positive things during the test to the Team 7-Eleven car. We seemed to go back a step in the last session today but I think we learned some things and that's what we were here to do. It felt good to finish at the top yesterday and to post the overall top speed during the test. I'm really happy for the guys on the Team 7-Eleven crew and the rest of the team. We've made up some ground and have to keep working to get better."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/ Firestone, fifth fastest): "Well, It's really just been one of those days for the No.9 Target car. We might have ended up third fastest today, but it could have been a lot better. The car definitely has speed in it, and that's a positive, but we didn't get a whole lot of track time or good testing done. Instead of gaining some valuable insight by testing, we didn't get much track time because we basically had issues with nearly every part of the car; clutch, gearbox, cables, you name it we broke it. We just weren't able to get into any kind of flow of testing everything we wanted to get done and then the rain just put a halt on everything."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 NYSE Dallara/Honda/Firestone, sixth fastest): "Any time I'm in the car, I obviously want to be at the top, so the first few sessions were a little bit frustrating for us. But, in the last session, I felt like we found the balance of the NYSE car. The engineers and guys on the crew did a good job taking the feedback and making the car better. This was a fun test and a good way for us to start the season."