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Power Paces Team Penske in Friday Practice at Sonoma

August 21, 2010

Photo courtesy of Steve Swope



SONOMA, Calif. (August 20, 2010) - Team Penske opened the weekend at Infineon Raceway with a strong practice session on Friday in preparation for Sunday's Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma.

IZOD IndyCar Series points leader Will Power posted the second-fastest lap of the one-hour opening session around the 12-turn, 2.303-mile road course, clocking in at 1:18.3011 in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda. Power saw his 2009 season come to an end at Infineon when he was injured during a practice accident, but he topped series testing at Sonoma last week and he was fast from the start of Friday's session. Power leads Dario Franchitti by 41 points in the season standings entering this weekend. Franchitti owned the top practice time on Friday at 1:18.2970.

"It's very close throughout the whole field right now," said Power, who wrapped up the 2010 Mario Andretti Road Course Championship last race in Mid-Ohio. "It's great to be part of a series that's so close. It's going to be tough to beat Dario this weekend. He won here last year, and he's very quick."

Ryan Briscoe recorded the eighth-fastest lap in the 25-car field - 1:18.9155 in the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda. Briscoe has finished second in each of the last two races at Infineon Raceway.

"It felt great to get out on the track and turn my first laps here since the race last year," said Briscoe. "The Team Penske car feels good. Looking ahead to the race, I think tire management is going to be a key factor this weekend."

Helio Castroneves was 11th on the timing charts, posting a top lap of 1:18.9727 in the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda. Castroneves said his team experimented with the car's set-up during the session.

"It was an interesting day out there today," said Castroneves, who won at Infineon in 2008. "We certainly are not where we want to be right now. We were trying a different set-up from the other Team Penske cars, and it looks like that was not the way to go. Sometimes you have to go the wrong way to find the right way. We still feel good about this weekend, and we look forward to practice and qualifying tomorrow."

While Power continues to lead the series standings with five races remaining in the 2010 season. Briscoe is fourth, 109 points behind, while Castroneves is fifth, 121 points off the leader's pace.

"The Verizon team is working hard," said Power. "There are a lot of people here from Verizon this weekend, so we'd love to win the race. We're going to do everything we can to do that."

Qualifying is scheduled for Saturday at 5:30 p.m. ET and will be televised on Versus beginning at 6 p.m. ET. Coverage of Sunday's Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma begins at 5 p.m. ET on Versus.