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DATE News (chronologically)
03/09/12
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Sebring Day 4: Dixon again on top  
Scott Dixon
For the second day in a row, a Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver topped the time sheet as the IZOD IndyCar Series completed its four-day Open Test at Sebring International Raceway.

Scott Dixon was quickest (on his final lap of the afternoon session) at 51.7938 seconds over the 1.67-mile, 11-turn short course as drivers, teams and manufacturers prepared for the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. He was the only driver to post a sub-52-second lap during the Open Test, which was divided into two groups (10 cars in the first group and 15 in the second). His time was almost 2 seconds slower than the Champ Car lap record.

Teammate Dario Franchitti was 0.2219 of a second back, and Rubens Barrichello of KV Racing Technology had a best lap of 52.2242 seconds (0.4305 of a second behind Dixon). Mike Conway, driving the No. 14 ABC Supply car for A.J. Foyt Racing, had another strong outing (52.2243) to place fourth, and Graham Rahal was fifth (52.4692) in the No. 38 Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing car.

A total of 688 laps were recorded on the day, and 4,107 laps for both groups without incident. Among both groups of drivers, Barrichello ranked fourth on the time sheet -- Helio Castroneves' lap of 52.1413 seconds on March 6 only two-tenths of a second better.

Combined results over 4 days

Rank Car Driver Name Engine Session Time Speed Total Laps
1 9 Dixon, Scott Honda Practice 5 00:51.7932 116.077 144
2 10 Franchitti, Dario Honda Practice 8 00:52.0157 115.580 142
3 3 Castroneves, Helio Chevy Practice 4 00:52.1413 115.302 201
4 8 Barrichello, Rubens Chevy Practice 7 00:52.1615 115.257 165
5 12 Power, Will Chevy Practice 4 00:52.2059 115.159 161
6 4 Hildebrand, JR Chevy Practice 7 00:52.2068 115.157 185
7 2 Briscoe, Ryan Chevy Practice 4 00:52.2072 115.157 179
8 14 Conway, Mike Honda Practice 6 00:52.2230 115.122 169
9 28 Hunter-Reay, Ryan Chevy Practice 4 00:52.3466 114.850 153
10 15 Sato, Takuma Honda Practice 7 00:52.3841 114.768 203
11 38 Rahal, Graham Honda Practice 8 00:52.4692 114.582 136
12 77 Pagenaud, Simon (R) Honda Practice 4 00:52.4698 114.580 200
13 5 Viso, EJ Chevy Practice 6 00:52.6317 114.228 146
14 18 Wilson, Justin Honda Practice 4 00:52.6537 114.180 174
15 67 Newgarden, Josef (R) Honda Practice 8 00:52.6551 114.177 120
16 83 Kimball, Charlie Honda Practice 8 00:52.7328 114.009 133
17 19 Jakes, James Honda Practice 4 00:52.8288 113.802 191
18 27 Hinchcliffe, James Chevy Practice 2 00:52.9125 113.622 162
19 22 Servia, Oriol Lotus Practice 8 00:52.9178 113.610 212
20 11 Kanaan, Tony Chevy Practice 8 00:52.9195 113.607 133
21 98 Tagliani, Alex Lotus Practice 7 00:52.9308 113.582 129
22 26 Andretti, Marco Chevy Practice 3 00:52.9577 113.525 166
23 78 de Silvestro, Simona Lotus Practice 4 00:53.2312 112.941 129
24 6 Bourdais, Sebastien Lotus Practice 7 00:53.2993 112.797 69
25 20 Carpenter, Ed Chevy Practice 8 00:53.4764 112.423 108
26 6 Legge, Katherine (R) Lotus Practice 8 00:53.8161 111.714 111
27 27 Beatriz, Ana Chevy Practice 6 00:54.1478 111.029 86

DAY 4 QUOTES:

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "Overall it was a good day for Team Target. We got started late because of some issues, and probably didn't get accomplished what we needed to in the first part of the day. We made a big suspension change at lunch time, and I actually didn't like all of that stuff, but we came out around 3 p.m., and didn't have time to go back on those things, so we stuck with it. We made steering changes and damper changes and seem to find a bit of a compromise for what we had. Today was more a day of learning about the new car and trying to soak up as much as we can before St. Pete." (About his fast lap at the end): "We did the work on the car and as the sun went down a bit and the clouds came in, the track picked up some time. We definitely worked to make the car better as well. I was good to do something for the lads at the end and it worked out."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "The team always does a good job, they're very, very good. We're trying to learn these new cars. We're trying to learn the new car, what might break on them, where the weak spots are, how to make them go fast. Honda is learning very quickly too so we're just trying to get through all of this stuff just now. I'm very happy with the two days we've had, obviously the first two days for me right from break-in, we had a lot of questions coming in to this test and we got answers to most of them, so hopefully we can put the pieces together for St. Pete and onwards."

Barrichello
RUBENS BARRICHELLO (No. 8 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): "We were able to run a good amount of laps again today and look at some different setups. We also practiced pit stops which will served me well. I was able to see how the car reacts coming in on warm tires and leaving on cold tires and seeing where to position the car, all things that are very different to what I am used to. Overall though we have had a very good two days of testing."

MIKE CONWAY (No. 14 A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): "We struggled all day to find speed. We need to go quicker because 4 tenths is massive around here. We learned some things but we have more work to do.  We just have to keep working at it."

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "We made progress today, probably a little bit more that we did yesterday when we got a little bit frustrated. We found a lot things that didn't work yesterday. We found a lot things that did work today, especially towards the end of the day. We had an issue that cut the day short at the end, so we didn't get to use our last set of new tires. Made progress and we're excited to get the first race."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "We worked through a lot of things, which is the goal here. We're really happy with the performance of the car and the team. We're really bonding and things are working really well. We're right there. We're not far off. At the end of the day, the timesheets may not resemble how competitive we are. Certainly we have improvement to do, but we're creeping up on and getting closer. The track here at Sebring doesn't really resemble any place that we go. It's bumpy like a street course, but it has so much grip that it's not realistic. We're pleased with the performance and looking forward to going to Barber and St. Pete. I think we'll be awfully competitive, so it's good."

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 6 Dragon Racing Lotus): "Now we're just having to deal with balance issues and fixing stuff, so it's more what I'm used to and what my job is rather than worrying if we're going to get the car on the track. So, nothing is ideal, we would have loved to get more done, but at least I will show up in St. Pete having done some laps in the car. And knowing a little bit, making sure the car was right and was doing everything it was expected to do, and to get the communication going with the engineers is what we need to address and to get the communication going with Lotus as well. Just slowly starting, really."

Oriol Servia, No. 22 Lotus DRR: "Yesterday, I wasn't too happy. We didn't make the progress that we had wanted to. The truth is, when you are trying new things that you haven't tried before you cannot always hope that they will be better. Today on the other hand, we did make some progress on both the car and engine. We will see, there is still quite a bit of improvement left to be made by St. Pete, but all we can do is just keep trying."

Josef Newgarden “It’s pretty cool,” Newgarden said of his first experience driving an Indy car. “It’s an Indy car! Not many people get to drive an Indy car in their life, and I think it’s pretty phenomenal that I get to work with this great group. I really feel that way. I’m just really excited to be with these guys.”

Newgarden admitted he was nervous before turning his first lap in the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone car. After a few stalls in the pits due to a combination of nerves and a balky clutch, Newgarden first entered the historic Sebring road course at speed at 10:20 a.m. (ET) Thursday.

“The nerve-wracking part was doing my systems check and trying to get out on a clear track and just do a simple lap and come into the pits,” Newgarden said. “When I went out, there were just too many cars swarming around me. There was just too much going on. But as soon as we got in a rhythm in the afternoon, I felt pretty darn comfortable, to be honest. It felt pretty routine and normal.”

DAY 4 NOTEBOOK:

Gerry Hughes, joining Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing at the Open Test at Sebring International Raceway as race engineer, is a reunion with team co-owner Bobby Rahal, technical director Jay O'Connell and driver Takuma Sato.

Hughes has 24 years of trackside engineering experience in series such as Formula One, GP2, A1GP, British Touring Cars, Formula 3 and Opel Lotus.

"Gerry worked for me when I was at Jaguar Formula One and he worked with (O'Connell) as well," Rahal said. "I have known Gerry since 2000 and we have always stayed in touch. He went on to bigger and better things and was involved with Takuma at Super Aguri in F1, and when Honda stopped that program they were a bit adrift. He was looking at making the move to come to the United States long term and so we talked.

"It is particularly good timing because since he had worked with Takuma there was a comfort level there and a level of communication that usually takes time to build up between two people. For Takuma it's good to have someone he is familiar with and had confidence in. He has a lot of experience in a lot of different formulas and that will be of value to us as a team."

***

Spots are open for the inaugural IZOD INDYCAR Golf Invitational on March 22 at the Vinoy Golf Club in St. Petersburg, Fla., featuring pairings with IZOD IndyCar Series drivers and other celebrities.

The tournament, with proceeds benefiting the Dan Wheldon Family Trust, the Bayfront Baby Place and the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation, is being held in conjunction with the IZOD IndyCar Series' season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

For more information, can contact Troy Hanson at 310-497-2469 or by email at troyh@worldmedia-la.com.

***

A mix of musical talent will be featured June 1-3 as part of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.

Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels (6:30 p.m. June 1), the B-52s (7:15 p.m. June 2) and Ronnie Dunn (2 p.m. June 3) will perform on the MotorCity Casino Hotel Entertainment Stage in the Meijer Family Fun Zone. The concerts are free for race event ticket holders.

"We are very excited to partner with MotorCity Casino Hotel to bring these terrific musical acts to the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix," event chairman Bud Denker said. "We know we'll have exciting action on the racetrack the first weekend of June, and with these great bands offering something for everyone it's sure to be great time away from the track as well."

Local bands and entertainment will be featured on the MotorCity Casino Hotel Entertainment Stage all weekend. Visit www.DetroitGP.com or call 866-464-PRIX for tickets and information.

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