There was pleasure and pain for Roger Penske’s team tonight at Phoenix International Raceway, as Helio Castroneves went top, and Will Power suffered an engine failure.
Castroneves recorded an average of 190.894mph on the 28th of his 117 laps tonight, lapping the 1.022-mile course in just 19.2735sec. That was the fastest time of the whole two-day test, and the three-time Indy 500 winner was satisfied with his weekend’s work.
He said: “We had a little issue in the first session but were able to take full advantage of the second one.
“The car seemed to be very solid in qualifying trim and we were able to jump into race mode.
“It’s going to be fast and non-stop; the Phoenix fans are going to have a heck of a race.”
The #12 Team Penske-Chevrolet of Will Power, however, ground to a halt with smoke coming from the rear after completing just 16 laps.
Neither Power nor U.S. vp, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, Jim Campbell, were prepared to speculate until further investigation. However, a Chevrolet spokesperson confirmed that the unit would be changed out and taken to Detroit for disassembly and analysis.
Most drivers spent the three-hour session practicing running in dirty air, and the overall speed charts were distorted by tows.
However, for the record, Ryan Hunter-Reay made it two Andretti Autosport-Hondas in the Top 3, and in fact HPD engines filled out the top six, thanks to Takuma Sato (AJ Foyt Racing), Carlos Munoz (Andretti) and impressive oval novice Luca Filippi (Dale Coyne Racing). Conor Daly was eighth in the second Coyne car.
Jack Hawksworth in the second AJ Foyt machine was bottom of the time sheets after scraping the wall at Turn 2 on his 43rd lap, ending his session early.
Iron man award of the evening went to James Hinchcliffe, who racked up 149 laps. In the second Schmidt Peterson Motorsport car, Gabby Chaves recorded 15th fastest time.
• Chaves may also test the #7 SPM machine in Sebring next Wednesday, as the car’s full-time driver for this season, Mikhail Aleshin, will not have his work visa until Thursday. However, Sam Schmidt confirmed the visa has been approved.