POWER LEADS AS BARBER OPEN TEST CONCLUDES

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010 - Will Power led a Team Penske sweep of the top three sports of the time charts as IZOD IndyCar Series teams concluded a two-day Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park.

The Australian had a quick lap of 1 minute, 9.8724 seconds on the 2.38-mile, 17-turn circuit.

Helio Castroneves (1:10.0084) in the No. 3 entry was second and Ryan Briscoe (1:10.0459), who topped first day lap times, was third in the No. 6 car. Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon (1:10.0594) was fourth and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Justin Wilson (1:10.0869) was in the top five for the second consecutive day.

Former Formula One driver Takuma Sato, participating in his first IZOD IndyCar Series test with KV Racing Technology, had another impressive outing with the sixth-best time of 1:10.2070. Mike Conway of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing climbed to seventh (1:10.2497) and Marco Andretti of Andretti Autosport was eighth (1:10.3956).

Twenty-one driver/car combinations totaled 2,009 laps in the three sessions (all drivers posted their best laps times in the Thursday's session). The top 14 cars were separated by 0.8399 of a second.

Firestone Indy Lights teams take to the track on Feb. 26 for a one-day test at Barber Motorsports Park.

DAY 2 NOTEBOOK:

The session, which started at noon (CT) due to cold temperatures, was delayed further just after its start by an accident involving reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti, whose car slid off the track in Turn 12 and made hard contact with the barrier, ending his test after two laps. The session resumed nearly an hour later after repairs to the guardrail and grass were made. Franchitti was uninjured in the incident.

2009 Rookie of the Year Raphael Matos also saw his test end early following an incident later in the afternoon.

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2006 Firestone Indy Lights champion Jay Howard made his debut for Sarah Fisher Racing, driving 37 laps in Fisher's No. 67 car.

"It was a great opportunity to complete as many laps as I did under the circumstances here today," Howard said. "We were hoping to do a little better, but as long as we learned something as a team, the test was beneficial."

Team owner/driver Fisher, who originally intended on sharing her car with Howard, opted instead to let Howard get seat time.

"We changed our plan slightly with Jay due to our on track time availability being shorter today," she said. "We only had a 12- 4pm window, along with a big accident taking up an hour of that time. We thought it was within our best interests to keep him in car the entire three hours available and learn as much as we could about the car for when we come back. We saw him and the team making big gains with an hour and a half to go, which will give us a good starting point come race weekend in April. We did learn a lot and improved as a team over our test in Sebring, which is the bottom line at day's end."

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DAY 2 QUOTES:

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): "It was a good day. We certainly found some good things. We went through a lot of things during the two days. Today, towards the end of the day, we focused on getting outright speed. You can see how tough the championship is going to be- There are so many good drivers and so many good cars and teams. I think it's going to be a very exciting year. You're going to have to really be on your game if you want to win."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske): ""It was a good test for Team Penske. We came here to get back in the groove and get our rhythm going again. We learned some things that will be useful for the race in St. Petersburg and for when we come back here to Barber. I am excited for the team, coming out on the top of the timing chart is great and I hope we do that all season."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske): "We had a real good couple of days testing. We found some set-up information that will be helpful in Brazil, St. Pete and for when we return here, to Barber. The test went very smooth. We were able to work through a long list of testing points. It is real nice to see the Team Penske cars 1-2-3 at the end of the test."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "It was alright. I think we definitely made drastic improvements on the car today for this course. We've been concentrating on just getting development programs scratched off the test list that we've been working off of for the winter. This afternoon was good. I messed up my second to last set of tires by spinning in Turn 13. That was on my second lap so we had to scratch them and go to our last set, but the car was good and pretty close on time. On the last lap I was up a couple of tenths (of a second) but got caught up in traffic. Overall, the car is pretty decent and we're in the hunt which is nice because the last time we came away from this test we were struggling and were four or five tenths (of a second) off. So it's nice to know that we've made some gains to the car and we've got some development items on our test list checked off."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 KV Racing Technology): "It was a very successful day for the KV Racing Technology team considering the weather. It was extremely cold this morning so we were unable to run, but once the temperature had improved, we were out on track. I was able to learn a lot again from how the car reacted to the different setups we tried, which was good preparation for the Brazil race. However nothing is ever perfect and I am never satisfied, but I am very positive that I have a good feeling of how the car handles and look forward to going racing in a few weeks time."

MIKE CONWAY (No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "Today was a lot more enjoyable day. We had a lot more comfortable car. We learned a lot from some things that we tried and from Justin and as a result we came away with a proper setup. We just need to keep working on it and I think we are in a good position when we come back to race."

JUSTIN WILSON (No. 22 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "The test went quite well. We were quick early on and we just continued to work through a few changes. Right at the end of the day we set our quickest lap, which was on the end lap, and finally I got what I was looking for. It's a shame that the lap times aren't shown on the results sheet, but we ended up pretty quick and I am pleased. I'm looking forward to our next test and then onto Brazil."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Andretti Autosport): ""The Venom car laid a good foundation in practice yesterday and we were able to really build on that today. I think we're still a couple small changes away from being in the ballpark, but we learned a lot this weekend. I'm looking forward to Brazil and putting what we've learned to good use."

HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 06 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing): "I think the Formula Dream/Panasonic team had another good day today. We stopped at 2:30 to make a change on the car and it made the car much better. It was a huge, good change. My engineer Martin (Pare) and the team understand my driving style more now and what they should do for me to make the lap time quicker and I understand as a driver how to work better with them. We are getting closer."

MARIO ROMANCINI (No. 34 Conquest Racing): ""I'm very happy to finish in the top ten today considering it was our first time at this track. Yesterday I spent the day just trying to learn the new car. I felt pretty comfortable in the car today so I was able to work with the engineers on a few different setups. We obviously still have some work to do, but I think these two days show that we have potential to be competitive and I'm really looking forward to the Brazil."

JAMES ROSSITER (No. 32 KV Racing Technology): "Today was my first proper afternoon testing an Indy car and with KV Racing Technology. I learned a lot. We did a bit of a qualifying simulation with three sets of new tires as well as a couple of long runs, running from full fuel tanks to empty so I could understand how the car reacts in these situations. We have made some good progress in setup changes and hopefully the team have learned enough to have a good first race in Brazil."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Andretti Autosport): "We had a great start to the afternoon today and found some things we really like. Then we decided to go back and make some big changes to see what direction it would send us. And, I knew if those things didn't work, that we would not have time to change things back. But, that is what a test is for. So, we found out some things later this afternoon that we know won't help us, and that is good. We learned and we learned on all four cars. There is no question that we still have a lot of work to do, but we have a much better idea of what we want for ourselves."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 A.J. Foyt Racing): "Overall the test was very good. We have a very good race car. For me, it's good to get back in the car. I've been out of it for too long. Working with Jeff Britton is like we never missed a beat. We started right where we left off in 2005 which put us ahead of where we were last year. I feel very good about the season the way everyone is working so well together."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 37 Andretti Autosport): "We're working hard to get where we need to go. The IZOD team learned a lot of what we don't want and that is just as valuable as learning what you do want. It was a good test for getting through some things. We're not happy with our pace right now, but I know I can go fast and this team knows it can go fast. We'll put it all together and we'll make it work, for sure."

E.J. VISO (No. 8 KV Racing Technology): "Today was a day with a lot of different issues. It was not as good as yesterday but the other drivers for KV Racing Technology team worked well together, so hopefully we will have a good amount of data and a productive race weekend when we return in a few months."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Andretti Autosport): "It was good to get back into the Go Daddy car this weekend and get working again with my teammates. I'm disappointed with our times, but we were able to gather a lot of data that I think will be beneficial for the season. I'm looking forward to starting the season in a couple weeks."

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The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season begins March 14 with the Sao Paulo Indy 300 on the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 11:30 a.m. (EDT) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The race also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season opens with the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg March 28 on the streets of St. Petersburg. The race will air live on indycar.com.

-source: irl