Castroneves Continues Control of St. Pete

Seeking his third consecutive victory at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Team Penske's Helio Castroneves posted the fastest time in practice Friday in preparation for Sunday's first road-course event of the 2008 IndyCar Series season.

Fellow Brazilian Tony Kanaan posted the second-quickest lap of the day as both men edged the surprise early pace-setter, rookie Hideki Mutoh, in the final minutes of the second and last practice session of the day.

Another surprise was the pace of Justin Wilson, who struggled last weekend with his Newman Haas Lanigan team on the Homestead-Miami Speedway oval after making the transition from the Champ Car World Series to the newly-unified IndyCar Series. On a more familiar street circuit, Wilson was quickest in the morning practice session and fourth overall on the day.

In all, former Champ Car drivers claimed four of the top ten positions today, with Wilson followed by Will Power and Franck Perera in fifth and sixth; and Power's KV Racing teammate Oriol Servia rounding out the top 10.

Activities continue Saturday on the west coast of Florida with a final practice, followed by qualifying for Sunday's 100-lap race. The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the second of 18 IndyCar Series races this year, starts at 3:30 p.m. EDT, with live television coverage on ESPN.

Helio Castroneves (#3 Team Penske Honda) quickest in practice, race winner here in 2006 and '07: "There were a lot of yellows [cautions] and a lot of traffic in the second session, which is a good problem for us to have now! In general, it seemed like the whole team has picked up where we left off here last year, and we were able to put down a really fast lap right at the end of the session to top the time sheets. That made it a great day for us, but for sure the track will be much quicker tomorrow and we'll have to do it all over again in qualifying."

-credit: honda racing