Long Beach: Series Friday report

POWER TOPS PRACTICE AT LONG BEACH LONG BEACH, Calif. (Friday, April 17, 2009) -- Will Power, driving the No. 3 Team Penske entry, topped practice for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Friday as the IndyCar Series opened its first visit to ...

POWER TOPS PRACTICE AT LONG BEACH

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Friday, April 17, 2009) -- Will Power, driving the No. 3 Team Penske entry, topped practice for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Friday as the IndyCar Series opened its first visit to the historic street circuit.

Power lapped the 11-turn, 1.968-mile course in 1 minute, 10.5486 seconds, 100.424 mph, edging 2008 series champion Scott Dixon by .0192 for the fastest lap of the day.

Rookie Raphael Matos was third quick, Dan Wheldon was fourth and Mike Conway was fifth.

Power will move to the No. 12 Team Verizon Wireless entry Saturday, relinquishing the No. 3 seat to Helio Castroneves, who will return to Team Penske following the conclusion of his trial. Castroneves has competed four times at Long Beach, winning his most recent start at the circuit in 2001. The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner finished second in the IndyCar Series championship last year.

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The Snap-on Stars of Karting presented by the IndyCar Series and Formula Kart Stars UK have agreed to an exchange program that will see six drivers travel to England for an event in July at the PF International Circuit in Grantham and six drivers from the Formula Kart Stars UK organization participate in the Race of the Americas at New Castle Motorsports Park in New Castle, Ind.

The 12 drivers will be provided an arrive-and-drive chassis and engine program, event entry and pit spaces with their respective teams.

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Conquest Racing welcomed three new sponsor partners for this weekend's race. The team will be promoting Las Vegas's Hard Rock Hotel & Casino's enlarged and updated concert venue, The Joint, which opens this month. The team is also supported by ODW Logistics and TorcUp of Canada.

ODW Logistics is a privately owned multi-regional third party logistics provider with distribution points located throughout the country. TorcUP of Canada, based in Edmonton, Alberta, specializes in the supply of industrial torque tools and accessories covering a range from 100-60,000 LBF/FT (foot pounds) and nut sizes in excess of 10 inches.

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Vision Racing's Ryan Hunter-Reay will attempt to make his fourth career start at Long Beach, but his first since 2005. Hunter-Reay's best finish at the track was seventh in 2003 and 2004, however his best memory of the event is meeting his girlfriend Beccy Gordon five years ago this weekend.

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HVM Racing driver E.J. Viso spent the last week in Scottsdale, Ariz., getting acclimated to Pacific time and training for the streets of Long Beach with a demanding cycling program. The 24-year-old Venezuelan trained 60 miles a day with his brother-in-law, Alejandro Falcon, in the Arizona desert.

In addition to training, Viso has also been following a strict nutritional program designed to give him the energy and strength to perform at his best when he gets behind the wheel of the No. 13 car. The program was formulated by Luigi Gratton, M.D., and Louis Ignarro, Ph.D., of Herbalife. Viso and Falcon both endorse Herbalife's products and principles.

E.J. VISO (No. 13 PDVSA HVM Racing): "The Long Beach street course is similar to the St. Pete course. Both are very physically demanding on the driver, so you have to be in your best possible condition. Cycling is a great way to train because it's very comprehensive. It improves your physical condition and your stamina. I have felt a remarkable improvement in my body since I started the nutritional program. It's incredible how much good nutrition can make a difference. I feel stronger and more alert through all of my senses, which is important when you are driving a car 120 miles per hour."

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Dreyer & Reinbold Racing announced that it has partnered with Kingdom Racing and Hewlett Packard to field the No. 44 DRR Kingdom Racing Hewlett Packard car for driver Davey Hamilton in the Indianapolis 500.

Hamilton will be attempting his ninth start in the Indianapolis 500.

DAVEY HAMILTON: "I'm fortunate just to be able to do this again in a race I love. Dennis Reinbold and I have been friends for a long time so I found a home with Dreyer & Reinbold (Racing). I'm pretty excited. We have HP coming back and Kingdom Racing back. I continue to try to build the program, not just for me driving but for years to come."

(About ownership of a Firestone Indy Lights team): "Competing in the Indy 500 is my priority. Being a new owner in the Firestone Indy Lights we're crawling right now and I'm learning the ownership side but not go outside our limitations. I'm excited about this race."

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KV Racing Technology announced it will field the No. 15 GEICO/KV Racing Techology car for driver Paul Tracy in the Indianapolis 500.

Tracy will attempt to make his sixth start in the Indianapolis 500.

PAUL TRACY: "For me it's a very exciting day. Obviously it's been extremely, extremely frustrating to have only raced one time since the merger of the two series back together. It's been a year since I competed here at Long Beach, and I only did one race last year in Edmonton. I felt that I did enough job to warrant being back in a car, but that didn't transpire, and I'm very fortunate to have the support of this Indianapolis 500 effort of not only Kevin and Jimmy's team but also Geico.

For me to go back to Indy after '02, I only have one purpose in going there, and that's to win the race. That's why I chose Jimmy's (Vasser) team and Kevin's (Kalkhoven) team, because I feel they've got the most competitive package out there that is available.

Jimmy and I have known each other for more than 20 years on and off the racetrack and have a good friendship with each other, live in the same town, so it was just a natural fit, and I'm excited. Obviously it's going to be a big month of May for me, and it's going to be pretty exciting."

JIMMY VASSER (Co-owner, KV Racing Technology): "This is a great thing not only for KV but for Indy car racing. To get PT back out there I think is going to be phenomenal for the month of May. Hopefully this could lead into some other things for the future, as well. He's a great champion, done so many great achievements. If you look at his numbers, they're phenomenal. He's in the top 10 in every category that there is in Indy car racing, and I'm really excited. He usually calls me about five times a day on the telephone, and so I'm going to be able to get to call him from the radio and from the timing stand."

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Conquest Racing, in collaboration with ODW Logistics, presented a $10,000 check to the Orange County Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach today. In addition to the donation, Conquest will be raising breast cancer awareness by placing a Susan G. Komen for the Cure decal on the front wing of its No. 34 car.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure is the premier nonprofit organization fighting to end breast cancer. The Komen Orange County Affiliate is one of the largest affiliates, and its programs work to ensure as many women and men in the community as possible have access to life-saving breast health care.

ERIC BACHELART (Owner, Conquest Racing): "I think everyone knows at least one person that has been affected directly or indirectly by breast cancer or any other type of cancer. We wanted to do something to give back, and we feel that it's important to play a part, big or small, in the fight to end breast cancer. We want to raise awareness and thanks to the collaboration with ODW Logistics we were also able to present them with this donation. Susan G. Komen for the Cure has done such an amazing job at helping in this fight and we're proud to be associated with them."

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INDYCAR SERIES POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:

WILL POWER (No. 3 Team Penske, fastest of the day): "I feel good. We got the car to a very nice, consistent balance. Tomorrow I'll be in a different car, but the guys are really good here and will transfer everything over from this car to my new car, the No. 12 Verizon Wireless car. They're ready for Helio (Castroneves) to drive and are in very good shape. I look forward to a good weekend, and I'm happy the way everything has turned out for Helio. I can't imagine what it would be like to go through that considering what a good career he's had. I'm looking forward to tomorrow."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, second): "I think there were a couple of guys who didn't run (new) tires, so there's a bit of an unknown there. The car definitely came together at the end of the session. We were struggling a bit on the first practice and the start of the second, but the engineering guys did a hell of a job to bring some compliance back into the car and make it a little more predictable for me. We'll just have to see how tomorrow goes when everybody's on new tires and going for a quick time. I feel much better than where we were at this time at St. Pete. The car is definitely more consistent, and hopefully we can put something together."

RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 US Air Force Luczo Dragon Racing, third): "Today was a very good day. We made a lot of improvement. Really, we carried on from what we had in St. Pete and took another step forward, and we still have room for improvement. I have to praise the team. They have done so well getting the car ready. I'm really proud of the work they have done. We made a lot of positive changes throughout the day. We're not looking for ultimate speed right now, we're just looking for balance and to make sure our tires last long and are consistent. Where you start is so crucial here, so we're trying to maximize our performance so that we start in a good position. I'm very happy with the car, and I'm very confident that we will continue to improve."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, sixth): "I'm pretty happy. The Target car was good all day, right off the truck. I was very happy with our race pace. Hopefully we'll have the qualifying pace when it counts as well. We didn't run any new tires, so we don't know what the car will be like balance-wise. Hopefully our new tires will be as good as the old tires and we'll pick up the pace. I'm very happy. It's good to be back in Long Beach."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, ninth): "It wasn't the best opening day for the No. 6 Team Penske car. I had a little incident with the tire barrier in the second session that set us back a bit, but I still feel like we've got a good car. We're going to make a few changes tonight and go for it tomorrow. We were second fastest in the first session today, which is really promising. I think we just need to find our rhythm again and we'll be right back up at the front tomorrow."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 02 McDonald's Racing Team, 10th): "Overall it was a pretty good day. It seems like a bunch of guys ran new tires at the end and went a little bit quicker, and we didn't really get a new tire run at all. When we tried to go out, I was locking my tires like crazy, so I really only got two laps on new tires, both of which I locked up in Turn 1 and blew the run away, so I just pitted. We're still pretty happy with where we are. I think the McDonald's team is competitive, but we still have a little ways to go. It's tight, and it's going to be tough."

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SATURDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):

10:25-11:25 a.m. IndyCar Series practice (two groups)
2:10-3:40 p.m. PEAK Performance Pole Qualifying

-credit: irl

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