Power tops Penske trio in Fontana testing
Will Power paced Team Penske’s efforts at Fontana’s Auto Club Speedway Wednesday as all three drivers finished in the top-six during a day-long test session leading into Saturday’s MAVTV 500 IndyCar World Championships season finale.
The IZOD IndyCar Series championship points leader going into the final race of the 2012, Power’s best lap of 215.761 mph in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet was the third best of the eight-hour test. The series-leading five-time pole winner in 2012 spent most of the day in top spot on the timing chart before finishing with the third-quickest lap.
"It's a good start to the weekend for the Verizon team,” said Power, who carries a 17-point lead in the championship over Ryan Hunter-Reay as the Team Penske racer attempts to win his first overall IZOD IndyCar Series title on Saturday. “The car was good and we just kept getting better and better as the day went on. I think we're in pretty good shape for qualifying but we'll have to see where we are on Friday. We're ready. Now we just need to go out and get it done."
Ryan Briscoe finished directly behind Power, as his speed of 215.133 mph in the No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet ranked fourth among the 22 cars that tested Wednesday. Briscoe’s day took an unfortunate turn on the final lap of the session under the lights at Auto Club Speedway as he hit a bump on the high line entering Turn 3 and spun around into the wall.
"Aside from the impact at the end, it was a really good test day overall,” said Briscoe. “We did a lot of set-up work on the IZOD car and we learned a ton. We'll take all that information and move forward for qualifying and for the race. Hopefully the car and engine will be in good shape for the rest of the weekend."
Helio Castroneves, the only Team Penske driver with actual race experience on the two-mile speedway, finished sixth on the day as his No. 3 Auto Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet recorded a speed of 214.666 mph. The 2003 and 2004 pole winner at Fontana saw his times improve as the track got closer to expected race conditions and the team made the appropriate modifications.
“It wasn’t the best day, but it was a great night for the Auto Club of Southern California machine,” said Castroneves, who has led more laps at the track than any other active IZOD IndyCar Series driver. “It was a little different from the test (here) last week and we tried as many different things as we could. The track is going to change a lot as you go from the sun to the night time so it will be interesting. I am happy with where the car is now, the guys did a great job today and I’m looking forward to getting back on the track Friday.”
Preparations for Saturday’s 500-mile event will continue on Friday, with practicing beginning at 1:45 p.m. ET and qualifying at 5:15 p.m. ET.