A day earlier, Will Power was among numerous IZOD IndyCar Series drivers who relayed their predictions of the "tightest race in series history." He, of course, was speaking in season-long terms, though individual races definitely are included.
The first of a two-day Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park provided a preview. Seven different teams were represented in the top 10 of the combined time sheet for the two sessions (five hours total track time), and the top 18 of the 24 cars participating were separated by one second.
Power, who won five road/street races on the way to a runner-up finish in the 2010 championship, topped the field with a quick lap of 1 minute, 12.5056 seconds (114.198 mph) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car on the 2.38-mile natural-terrain course. Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing was second (1:12.5538) and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Justin Wilson was third (1:12.6791).
Five more hours of track time are scheduled for March 15 in preparation for the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg next week. Barber Motorsports Park will play host to the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 10.
|1.||Will Power||Penske Racing||1m12.5056s||+0.0000s|
|2.||Scott Dixon||Ganassi Racing 1||1m12.5538s||+0.0482s|
|3.||Justin Wilson||Dreyer & Reinbold||1m12.6791s||+0.1735s|
|4.||Helio Castroneves||Penske Racing||1m12.7764s||+0.2708s|
|5.||James Hinchcliffe||Newman/Haas Racing||1m12.8729s||+0.3673s|
|6.||Ryan Briscoe||Penske Racing||1m12.9715s||+0.4659s|
|7.||EJ Viso||KV Racing||1m13.0170s||+0.5114s|
|8.||Mike Conway||Andretti Autosport||1m13.0338s||+0.5282s|
|9.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||1m13.1048s||+0.5992s|
|11.||Graham Rahal||Ganassi Racing 2||1m13.1366s||+0.6310s|
|12.||Dario Franchitti||Ganassi Racing 1||1m13.1524s||+0.6468s|
|13.||Takuma Sato||KV Racing||1m13.1913s||+0.6857s|
|14.||Oriol Servia||Newman/Haas Racing||1m13.2537s||+0.7481s|
|15.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport||1m13.2586s||+0.7530s|
|16.||Sebastien Bourdais||Dale Coyne Racing||1m13.2904s||+0.7848s|
|17.||Simona de Silvestro||HVM Racing||1m13.4546s||+0.9490s|
|18.||Charlie Kimball||Ganassi Racing 2||1m13.4830s||+0.9774s|
|19.||Danica Patrick||Andretti Autosport||1m13.7102s||+1.2046s|
|20.||Vitor Meira||AJ Foyt Racing||1m13.7737s||+1.2681s|
|21.||Sebastian Saavedra||Conquest Racing||1m13.8020s||+1.2964s|
|22.||JR Hildebrand||Panther Racing||1m14.5534s||+2.0478s|
|23.||James Jakes||Dale Coyne Racing||1m14.7775s||+2.2719s|
|24.||Ana Beatriz||Dreyer & Reinbold||1m15.0777s||+2.5721s|
DAY 1 QUOTES:
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske, fastest of the day): "It was a good day today for Verizon Team Penske. We definitely found some things today that will help us here. The track conditions really improved late in the day before we decided to stop a bit early because of the rain. It felt really good out there and I hope it's dry tomorrow so we can get back out and do some more laps in the Verizon car." (About closeness of the field today): "I said yesterday that this would be the toughest season in history. I haven't seen the timesheets yet, but it's already shaping up to be that way. There are a lot of good drivers in good cars and maybe some good drivers in not-so-good cars. It's great to see a whole field of good drivers. There's not one person that shouldn't be out there."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, second-fastest): "It was a good day for Team Target. We had a big list of things to accomplish and made a lot of different changes as we tried to go through all the development pieces that team came up with over the winter. The Team Target car was fairly decent, so I'm pretty happy, overall."
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 22 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, third-fastest): "The first day was okay. We had a few things that we had to spend some time on earlier, so we missed a bit of track time. We came back out and I think we made some strong progress in the afternoon. Some of the changes were good and some were bad, so we can cross those off of the list and now we are shortening it up. I think it has been a reasonable day and we will keep working on it for tomorrow."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Guidepoint Systems Team Penske): "We were very happy with the No. 3 Guidepoint Systems car today. We turned some solid laps and posted some good times. Today we worked on getting back in the groove and finding our rhythm. We did a lot work and learned some valuable information. I hope that the weather that is heading our way does not affect us tomorrow."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 06 Newman/Haas Racing): "Driving an Indy car around Barber is fantastic! It was my first time to drive an Indy car on a proper road circuit so it really gave me a chance to stretch the legs of the Indy car a little bit, especially on the fast corners. It's an incredible machine; it's got a lot of downforce and it's really fun to try to explore the limits of the car. This morning we had a solid car. I think half of the field put new tires on in the morning and we were one of them. Not a lot of guys in the top-10 did so it put us in the top, a little higher than maybe we should have been. The car was really good again this afternoon. I had a little bit of a spin which forced us to put our new tires on a little earlier in the day which was not the best time of the day to do that and we ran an all right time, a time good enough for P7. But what was incredible was that we made a really good change later and matched it on tires that were about 15 laps old. Doing that on my first day at this track in an Indy car with everybody here is something to be really happy about. We'll just build on that tomorrow."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 IZOD Team Penske): "I was really happy with our first day here at Barber. We stopped a little bit early because of the weather coming in. We did a lot of set-up work getting the balance right for this tire. Firestone brought a different tire than what we tested here a couple of weeks ago. Overall, we are very pleased with the IZOD car after today's test and we hope to get some more good miles in tomorrow."
MIKE CONWAY (No. 27 TEAM ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT): "Today was a solid day. We started off with a pretty good balance. We started working with the car, changing many things, and I think we got a load of things done. Now we're just going to go back and compare to the other cars to see where we go for tomorrow. All in all, we got a lot done and I think the pace is there-the car was quick."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 TEAM DHL/SUN DROP): "We got a lot of work done. The setup we started with this morning ended up being our quickest combination. We've got a few good changes for tomorrow. It will be a busy day. We got a lot of information from the other three cars on the team. We just need to put our heads together tonight. It's amazing how close the competition is. The road and street courses are going to be very challenging."
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 B&W Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "It was definitely a really strong day for the team. Obviously we had a lot of items on the list that we tried today. It was one of those days where it was item after item after item to test to see if we can get some improvement. I think we found some really interesting things in the car that were helpful. We're still not where we want to be, but we know that and we're aware of it, so it's no big deal, and we're not racing, yet. Today was a huge testing item program for us and I think ninth, considering we just threw bits at it, is pretty decent. Tonight we have to review the things that went wrong today and see if we can make improvements on it tomorrow from the get-go. We'll know where we're at the first out lap, and if we are where we want to be, then we'll probably go after a lap time. We'll just have to put it out on the track in the morning the right way."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Levemir and Novolog FlexPen): "The Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team had another very productive test day at Barber Motorsports Park. There were only a few cars running when we were here last week, but today was more like a race weekend with a lot of competition out there. Still, we were able to accomplish our goals for the day. I'm looking forward to getting back to work on the No. 83 Levemir FlexPen and NovoLog Honda tomorrow."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing): "Today was learning day for the Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing team. We made a lot of changes and improvements to the No. 38 Service Central Honda throughout both practice sessions and we ended the day well. We're in a good spot to build on tomorrow."
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 HVM Racing): "It's really great to be back in a race car again, and finally back on a high-speed course. We have a few things to test and that's what we've set out to accomplish today. I think we'll be happy with the changes that we're finding."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing): "We started ok…did some changes after the last test we ran here. We tried some things that didn't work and we're going back to what we knew was better. We had a problem with the clutch and we're trying to figure out if what caused it, if it was a part failure or something else. It stopped us from running the last 90 minutes of practice which is the most important because that is when you put everything that you learned together and put down a time. Overall, we were ok and we're making steps in the right direction. We'll see what tomorrow brings. [Being back in a car] "It feels good to be back. It's a long off-season and it's a long time to be out of the car so you start saying to yourself, 'Man I want to get into it, I don't want to get rusty.' So it's good to be back on a general test where everybody is and where everybody is competitive so it's a good feeling to be back."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 TEAM VENOM) "It was really good to be back in the Venom car but I think we still have some work to do. We ticked off all the boxes and as a team ran several different setups, but we're not moving as far forward as we'd like. We're looking forward to working hard tomorrow."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 TEAM GoDaddy.com): "Overall I think today's practice sessions were successful. We made a lot of changes to the car, some worked, some didn't, but that's what testing is about. I think we will be able to fine tune some of the things that worked well, and put them to test again tomorrow. The time that we have spent on track is going to be useful when we are back here in a few weeks."
ANA BEATRIZ (No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "Well it was a little bit tougher that I had expected. I don't know the Barber track, this was my first time to run here. It's a very technical circuit and it has some really fast corners, so I really had to trust the car. We did improve the car all day, which is a good thing. At the end of the day, just at the point when I think that I was right with the setup and we put on new tires, but unfortunately on my fastest lap I spun the car and destroyed the tires so we couldn't run anymore, which was frustrating. All in all, we did improve a lot, it's just disappointing that we couldn't show the times that I know we could show."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 02 Newman/Haas Racing): "The track is even more fun than it looks on the computer. I really enjoy it; a lot more than I thought I would. We made some big changes with the car that went towards suiting me. I was very comfortable with the setup of the car but more than anything it's a track with a lot of technical, very fast corners where you need confidence and it just took me some time to get that confidence. I still have quite a bit to go but I felt, from lunchtime to the afternoon, a lot more comfortable. I'm starting to feel how I should. In the morning I was still too rusty. I am very happy with the progress in the afternoon though."
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 34 Conquest Racing): "Today was exactly what I needed. Seat time is pretty important right now. I just signed with the team, so I needed the time to get used to everything – a new engineer, a new team and a new car. We made huge progress today. We started pretty conservative and just started working through it. We finished the day at a point where we feel like we can continue to make progress. Tomorrow we'll if we can pick up where we left off."
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing): "It was an interesting day. We started, really, from nowhere. The car was really bad and we had a bit of a tough time. But towards the end, we started to get a little closer. We still have a lot of work to do, but it's encouraging because we made some progress. We have a lot of things to try with the geometry of the car, and I'm still learning the car and what changes work for me. We still have a lot of things to investigate, but the boys worked really hard today, and we'll keep plugging away."