Team Penske teammates top chart in Sebring testing

March 5, 2008

SEBRING, Fla. – Tony Kanaan called it.

The Andretti Green Racing driver on March 4 set the quick time during a two-day test for 11 driver/car combinations on the 1.7-mile, 11-turn Sebring International Raceway course at 52.8609 seconds (113.732 mph). He predicted it would tumble to a driver in the second group testing March 5-6. It did.

Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe posted the quick lap of the four-hour session at 52.7757 seconds (113.916 mph). Teammate Helio Castroneves (52.9853 seconds; 113.465 mph) was second on the chart as teams used the time to work on a number of set-up combinations in preparation for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – the first street/road course race of the season. The race comes eight days following the opener on the Homestead-Miami Speedway oval.

"The track seemed to clean up really quickly during the afternoon and the rubber that the guys laid down the last couple of days is still there," Briscoe said. "It's just a bit tough here sometimes, because you're chasing the track conditions. Overall, we're really happy with the work we got done today on the Team Penske car. We did a lot of set-up work, just trying to build a database of tools we can work with when we go to St. Petersburg."

Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Dan Wheldon (53.4806; 112.415) and Scott Dixon (53.4859; 112.382) were next on the Timing & Scoring list. Buddy Rice, participating in the No. 15 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing car, was fifth with a quick lap of 53.7294 seconds (111.894). Eight drivers combined for 456 laps.

IndyCar Series Danica Patrick Twill Cap, With Buckle Strap.

"For us to be on pace with two of the big three (teams) is quite good," Rice said. "We've had all winter to sit and think about what we need to do. We haven't done a road course since Detroit (in September) so I think we have a lot more things to go through and a lot more things to evaluate, but I think we're in good shape. It shows we were quick at Detroit, quick here and should be quick at St. Pete."

Drivers will return to the historic circuit for seven hours of track time March 6 (Timing & Scoring on Townsend Bell will move into the seat of the No. 23 CITGO car prepared by Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. Milka Duno used the first day to get acclimated to the new paddle shift system and turning left and right.

"Of course I wanted to be faster," said Duno, who improved her time throughout the session and posted her best time (56.4081) on the 48th of 50 laps in her first road course outing in an IndyCar Series car. "New car, new brakes, paddle shifting, a new seat. We are working to be faster and this was a good start.

"It wasn't perfect, but it was OK."

Team co-owner Dennis Reinbold, who sat in on an extended debriefing between Duno and her engineer, agreed.

"Our plan was to get Milka comfortable, so her gains all through the day were very good," he said. "We know a couple of areas that if we had another run or two with her we could have improved the time further. You have to be happy when each time out she found more and more speed and challenged the car all day long."