Penske team 1-2-3 in Barber test

Helio Castroneves
Helio Castroneves

Helio Castroneves was back as a Verizon IndyCar Series driver, if only for the day.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner was with Team Penske for an open test at Barber Motorsports Park today as he prepares to compete in the INDYCAR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 12.

“It’s awesome," said Castroneves, who is racing full time for Team Penske’s sports car program this season. “I’m so thankful to Roger (Penske) for letting me have this test to learn about the new car. The new car is really edgy on entry to the corners, but at the end of day, it’s faster, which makes it fun. Now I’m starting to sort it out and understand the tires but the whole scenario."

The one-day test on the 2.3-mile permanent road course was Castroneves’ first chance to drive the 2018 Indy car, which with its new universal aero kit acts very differently from the car he last drove at Sonoma Raceway in September. The rust didn’t show as the Brazilian posted the third-fastest lap of the morning session at 1 minute, 8.3155 seconds (121.022 mph).

Team Penske dominated the day that was abbreviated by strong winds and rain in the afternoon. Josef Newgarden, the defending Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama race winner and reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion was fastest for the day with a lap of 1:07.9793 (121.802 mph) in the No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet. Will Power was second in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet (1:08.1536, 121.490 mph).

Newgarden fastest on this overcast then wet day
Newgarden fastest on this overcast then wet day

Tony Kanaan and Helio CastronevesAll 24 drivers on hand turned laps in the morning. Only Castroneves ran in the light rain in the afternoon for a paltry eight laps. While he loved the return to Barber, the day was bittersweet for the winner of the inaugural race at the track in 2010. The 42-year-old won’t be competing in the race on April 27, focusing instead on the INDYCAR Grand Prix and 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in May.

“It’s hard to come here and know that when the team comes back you won’t be racing," said Castroneves. “I accepted the challenge of this new chapter in my life, but it’s great to get familiar with the car before the Indy 500. That’s the big one."

Power, Castroneves’ teammate since 2009, welcomed the return of his friend to the team drivers’ lounge.

“He has the same sense of humor as me," Power said. “He and I always team up and give the other guys trouble. I forgot how much fun it is having Helio in the room. Can’t wait for him to be around for the month of May."

Results

Pos Car Driver Name Engine Session Time Speed Laps
1 1 Newgarden, Josef CHEVY Session 1 01:07.9793 121.802 18
2 12 Power, Will CHEVY Session 1 01:08.1536 121.490 19
3 3 Castroneves, Helio CHEVY Session 1 01:08.3155 121.202 41
4 18 Bourdais, Sebastien HONDA Session 1 01:08.3820 121.084 22
5 19 Claman De Melo, Zachary (R) HONDA Session 1 01:08.5613 120.768 21
6 30 Sato, Takuma HONDA Session 1 01:08.6335 120.641 11
7 28 Hunter-Reay, Ryan HONDA Session 1 01:08.6367 120.635 13
8 9 Dixon, Scott HONDA Session 1 01:08.6870 120.547 23
9 22 Pagenaud, Simon CHEVY Session 1 01:08.7043 120.516 25
10 26 Veach, Zach (R) HONDA Session 1 01:08.8388 120.281 25
11 15 Rahal, Graham HONDA Session 1 01:08.9008 120.173 12
12 27 Rossi, Alexander HONDA Session 1 01:08.9116 120.154 20
13 4 Leist, Matheus (R) CHEVY Session 1 01:09.1066 119.815 25
14 59 Chilton, Max CHEVY Session 1 01:09.2126 119.631 36
15 10 Jones, Ed HONDA Session 1 01:09.2330 119.596 24
16 14 Kanaan, Tony CHEVY Session 1 01:09.3859 119.333 13
17 98 Andretti, Marco HONDA Session 1 01:09.4359 119.247 17
18 5 Hinchcliffe, James HONDA Session 1 01:09.4366 119.245 29
19 6 Wickens, Robert (R) HONDA Session 1 01:09.5237 119.096 27
20 23 Kimball, Charlie CHEVY Session 1 01:09.6123 118.944 22
21 20 King, Jordan (R) CHEVY Session 1 01:09.6901 118.812 20
22 21 Pigot, Spencer CHEVY Session 1 01:10.0997 118.117 14
23 88 Chaves, Gabby CHEVY Session 1 01:12.1430 114.772 4
24 32 Binder, Rene (R) CHEVY Session 1 01:12.1778 114.717 29

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