Team Penske Sweeps Top Three Spots in Open Test
Birmingham, Ala. (February 25, 2010) -Team Penske proved it is ready for the start of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season on Thursday as it posted the top three lap times in the final day of series open testing at Barber Motorsports Park.
After claiming three of the top four spots on Wednesday in the first day of the test, Team Penske's three drivers - Will Power, Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe - ran strong all day in their new black and white color scheme and finished 1-2-3 on the timing charts, with Power leading the charge. The performance bodes well for the team heading into the season opener March 14 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
"It was a good day," said Power, who led last year's open test at Barber Motorsports Park and carded the fourth fastest lap on Wednesday. "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." Power, competing in an open test for the first time since a crash at Sonoma in August left him with serious back injuries, posted the fastest lap of the two-day test - 1:09.87 - around the 2.38-mile road course in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda.
Power spent much of the offseason recovering from his injuries. He proved over the last two days that he's fully recovered, and he even recently competed in a seven-mile mini-marathon.
"From the first lap, I felt fine," Power said. "I didn't give my back a thought, didn't give the accident a thought. It doesn't bother me at all. It happened, and I've worked hard at my fitness to get back to where I was. In fact, I think I'm stronger than I was before, especially around the abdominal area. I've been focused on having a strong core. I've been running too, which is the last thing they let you do after an injury like that. It doesn't hurt when I run, so I'm fully recovered."
Castroneves owned the second-fastest lap of Thursday's test that featured 20 cars and didn't start until 12 p.m. Central Time due to extremely cold temperatures. Driving the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda, Castroneves posted a top time of 1:10.08 to claim the second spot on the leaderboard for the second consecutive day.
"It was a good test for Team Penske," said Castroneves, the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner. "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."
Briscoe, who finished third in the 2009 series championship, had the third-fastest lap Thursday, as he clocked a time of 1:10.45 in the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda. On Wednesday, Briscoe led all testers at the picturesque road circuit.
"We had a real good couple of days testing," said Briscoe. "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."
Team Penske opens the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season at the Sao Paulo Indy 300, a street race in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil.
-source: team penske