Power Paces Friday Practice for Team Penske at St. Pete

March 26, 2010

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Team Penske got off to a solid start Friday at this weekend's Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The team's drivers recorded three of the top times during two practice sessions, including the fastest lap of the day around the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit.

Fresh from his season-opening victory in Brazil, Verizon Team Penske's Will Power led the way by posting the fastest lap of Friday's sessions - 1:02.3200 seconds (103.979 mph) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda.

"It was a good day," said Power "We are getting the Verizon car better each session. After this run, the car is more like what I like to drive. It feels good. There is a long weekend ahead of us, with weather and everything. But I am feeling good going into tomorrow."

Two-time St. Pete race winner Helio Castroneves had the ninth-quickest lap at 1:03.2884, (102.388 mph) in the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda.

"After not racing here in St. Pete last season, it's good to be back," said Castroneves, who missed this event in 2009 as he dealt with his tax case. "I really missed this place. We have a little bit of work to do on the Team Penske No. 3 car, but we are definitely going in the right direction. Qualifying is going to be very important here, so we need to make sure we have a strong day on Saturday so we can be in a good position on Sunday to try to get the win."

Defending race champion Ryan Briscoe had the 13th-fastest lap of the day - 1:03.5043 (102.040 mph) - in the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda.

"It is great to be back in St. Pete," said Briscoe. "The car is good and we learned a few things. I think the Team Penske car will be strong this weekend. We just need to stay consistent throughout the weekend and execute on Sunday. It should be an interesting qualifying and I feel very good going into Sunday's race."

Power's street-course skills have become his forte, evidenced by the Brazil victory and a performances on street circuits last year for Team Penske - a win at Edmonton and podium finishes in Long Beach and Toronto.

"I'm not sure what it is about street circuits, but there's a lot more challenges on a street circuit than there are on ovals or road courses with uneven surfaces, different surfaces grip level wise, and you've got a wall," said Power. "So you can't make a mistake. You've got to creep up on it all weekend. The track is constantly changing because the rubber goes down over the weekend because it's just a street during the normal day. It's just all these little details that count to be quick."

On Saturday, Power, Castroneves and Briscoe will get a chance to prove just how quick. Qualifications are scheduled to begin at 1:20 p.m. EDT. Live coverage Sunday's race will begin at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC-TV.