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Briscoe, Power Fastest in Friday Practice at Long Beach

April 15, 2011

Photo courtesy of Steve Swope



LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 15, 2011) – Led by Ryan Briscoe, Team Penske had three of the six fastest laps Friday during the first day of practice for Sunday's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Briscoe recorded the top time of the day – 1:10.740 – around the 1.9-mile, 11-turn street course in the No. 6 Penske Truck Rental Dallara/Honda. Team Penske's Will Power owned the second-fastest lap, while Helio Castroneves checked in with the sixth-fastest time on Friday during IZOD IndyCar Series practice.

"It's great to end the day on top," said Briscoe, who was fifth in the morning practice session after an early spin on course. "We made some good changes over lunch time. We got that spin out of the way this morning. We changed the wing and were able to get the fast one on there now."

After suffering disappointing finishes in the first two races of the season due to contact, Briscoe has stayed positive with a fast car and productive practice and qualifying sessions. The native of Sydney, Australia said it could be another incident-filled race with the new double-file restarts on the tight street circuit, putting even more emphasis on qualifying up front.

"It's going to be really hairy in Turn 1 on every start and restart on Sunday," said Briscoe. "Certainly, the big goal is to start at the front and it's going to help a lot. From the third, fourth row back it's going to be such a big bottleneck, and there's going to be some impatient guys out there. We're certainly working hard at getting some speed out of the Penske Truck Rental car today."

Power, coming off his first win of the season last weekend in Alabama, had the fastest lap in the morning session before clocking the second-quickest time overall with a late run in the second practice. His effort of 1:10.898 in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda just missed knocking Briscoe from the top spot on the timing charts.

"It is very competitive around this track," said Power, the current series points leader who will be looking for his third consecutive pole position at Long Beach on Saturday. "You can see how close the times are together. We were running on new tires and it turned into a really good session for us. We will make a few changes for tomorrow and see if we can get another pole."

Castroneves also had a solid run around the difficult street circuit, clocking a lap of 1:11.362 in the No. 3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Dallara/Honda.

"We improved our Automobile Club of Southern California car between the first and second practice sessions today," said Castroneves, the 2001 Long Beach winner. "We will be sure to take advantage of what my teammates are learning about the track and then apply it to my car for tomorrow. We have some work to  do, but we will continue to improve and look forward to a better result on Saturday."

The IZOD IndyCar Series field will practice again Saturday at 1:25 p.m. ET before qualifying begins at 5:25 p.m. ET  Live coverage of Sunday's race begins at 3:30 p.m. ET on Versus.