Houston, Tex. (June 27, 2014) -- Will Power, looking for a repeat win in the streets of Houston, led Team Penske during the first day of practice Friday for the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston.
The Verizon IndyCar Series points leader, Power recorded the fastest lap of the first practice session, which held up for the second-fastest overall lap of the day after the second session was held Friday afternoon at the NRG Park track that will host two IndyCar races this weekend.
Teammates Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya were fifth- and 18th-fastest on the day, respectively.
Power – who won the second of two races held at Houston street circuit last October – will look to win his third Verizon P1 Pole Award of the season on Saturday. He was clocked at 1:00.4427 in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet, the second-fastest lap around the 10-turn, 1.634-mile street course.
“It’s hard to tell,” said Power, who owns victories at St. Petersburg and Detroit this season. “Actually we didn’t have a good session in that last one, it was really difficult to get a lap with the Verizon Chevrolet. It’s normal IndyCar. It’s really difficult to be in that front bunch because it’s very competitive. I think we have a good chance tomorrow with about 10 other guys, so we’re doing everything we can tonight to really work out the set-up.”
Castroneves moved into a tie on the all-time wins list with his mentor and Team Penske legend Rick Mears with a victory at the last street race and doubleheader on the schedule, June 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans. Castroneves posted the fifth-fastest lap Friday at Houston when he was clocked at 1:00.6905 in the No. 3 Pennzoil Ultra Platinum Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet.
The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner is piloting the familiar “Yellow Submarine” paint scheme that he drove to a second-place finish at the Indy 500 in May. Castroneves enters the weekend second in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings, 39 points behind Power.
“It is a great atmosphere here in Houston, especially having the Shell/Pennzoil headquarters here,” said Castroneves. “The heat is going to be challenging, but it’s the same for everyone. It’s a very tough course but I’m looking forward to two good races here in the ‘Yellow Submarine.”
Juan Pablo Montoya, who will make his 50th career Verizon IndyCar Series start when he takes the green flag Saturday for the first race of the weekend, was 18th overall on the practice chart on Friday. He posted a lap of 1:01.2273 in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet.
“We knew that we would be a little bit behind with the No. 2 Verizon Chevy today,” said Montoya. “This is my first time here and it’s a challenging place to race. I’ve got some time to look at the data and understand a little more what they are doing and how we go from there.”
Qualifying begins Saturday at 11 a.m. ET, with the live broadcast of Race 1 beginning on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) at 3 p.m.
Race No. 2 is scheduled for Sunday, with NBCSN’s broadcast beginning at 3 p.m.