Joe Jennings, IndyCar correspondent
Power dominates practice 1 before the rains came
Will Power had the dominant car in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama a year ago and in the first day of practice for the 2012 edition of the race, the Australian once again led the way.
Power drives the Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, one of the three cars entered by Team Penske. Power’s speed was 116.148 miles per hour.
“Leading the way today gives me more confidence for tomorrow, if the track is dry,” Power said. “We have a good set-up and we were quick in St. Pete as well. We just have to get the most out of the race.”
I know the track very well and we are just making minor adjustments.
Discussing his knowledge of the track from testing and previous races, Power commented, “I know the track very well and we are just making minor adjustments.”
Qualifying could be a challenge, according to Power. “I think qualifying will be mixed up as the track has weepers. And I think there will be wet patches,” he said.
Addressing the new car, Power said it has more grip and speed. “Our new car has a lot more grip than the old car, so it doesn’t bother us even though the track gets more polished each year,” he added.
Teammate Helio Castroneves had the second fastest speed of 115.803 mph. He drives the AAA Insurance Penske.
Said the flashy driver, “Our practice went well. The test we had here seems to be paying off, and right now I feel comfortable with the car. Team Penske has done a good job. I am super excited about qualifying tomorrow, and we just want to continue carrying the momentum from St. Pete.”
Third fastest at 115.706 mph was Takuma Sato in the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda with Josef Newgarden residing in the fourth spot at 115.661 mph.
Twenty-six IZOD IndyCar Series teams are on hand at the picturesque 2.3- mile road course situated on the outskirts of Birmingham, Ala., and they all took to the track before a severe electrical storm roared through as the first round of practice concluded.
Rain delayed the second practice for a while and when it got underway, a light rain was falling and it picked up as the on-track action continued. In total, 18 cars went out with Sato once again leading the way, although at a slower pace due to the wet track conditions.
Sebastian Bourdais was second fastest followed by Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti and Rubens Barrichello.
Sato only took three laps while Katherine Legge led the way with 11 circuits.
Neither Power nor Castroneves went out during the rainy session.
A red flag ended the second round of practice with 15 minutes to go. By then, the intensity of the rainstorm had picked up.
Practice continues on Saturday morning with qualifications following at 10:40 a.m. ET.
The Honda Indy Grand Prix will be telecast live by the NBC Sports Network on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.