Power Tops First Day of IndyCar Open Test

March 14, 2011

LEEDS, Ala. (March 14, 2011) - Will Power led a productive first day for Team Penske at the IZOD IndyCar Series open test at Barber Motorsports Park on Monday. Driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda, Power clocked an impressive fast lap of 1:12.5056 to lead all 24 drivers that posted times on the first of two days of testing at the 2.3-mile road course near Birmingham, Ala.

Power, who led the series open test at Barber Motorsports Park in each of the last two seasons as well and won the pole for last season's inaugural race at the venue, recorded his top time in the afternoon session. Team Penske's Helio Castroneves, the defending IZOD IndyCar Series race winner at Barber, and Ryan Briscoe made it three Penske cars in the top six on Monday. Castroneves owned the fourth-fastest lap of the day at 1:12.7764 in the No. 3 Guidepoint Systems Team Penske machine while Briscoe was sixth on the timing charts with a top time of 1:12.9715 in the No. 6 IZOD Team Penske car.

"It was a good day today for Verizon Team Penske," said Power, who finished fourth in last season's Grand Prix of Alabama at the Barber track. "We definitely found some things today that will help us here. The track conditions really improved late in the day before we decided to stop a bit early because of the rain. It felt really good out there and I hope it's dry tomorrow so we can get back out and do some more laps in the Verizon car."

With rain threatening in the late afternoon, all three Team Penske cars ended the session early with Power, Castroneves and Briscoe all running inside the top five at the time. Steady rain showers invaded the area shortly after on-track activity wrapped up on Monday.

"We were very happy with the No. 3 Guidepoint Systems car today," said Castroneves, the three-time Indy 500 champion who earned the first of his three wins in 2010 at Barber Motorsports Park. "We turned some solid laps and posted some good times. Today we worked on getting back in the groove and finding our rhythm. We did a lot of work and learned some valuable information. I hope that the weather does not affect us tomorrow."

Monday's performance was consistent with the strong results Team Penske has experienced at the Barber track. The team finished with the top three times at last season's series open test at the picturesque road course before winning the pole and the race just a few weeks later.

"I was really happy with our first day here at Barber," said Briscoe. "We stopped a little bit early because of the weather coming in. We did a lot of set-up work getting the balance right for this tire. Firestone brought a different tire than what we tested here a couple of weeks ago. Overall, we are very pleased with the IZOD car after today's test and we hope to get some more good miles in tomorrow."

The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series officially gets underway March 25-27 at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg while Barber Motorsports Park will host the second round of racing, April 8-10, at the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama.

Team Penske will return to the track for another full day of testing on Tuesday.

Top times from Monday's test at Barber Motorsports Park:

1. Power - 1:12.5056
2. Dixon - 1:12.5538
3. Wilson - 1:12.6791
4. Castroneves - 1:12.7764
5. Hinchcliffe - 1:12.8729
6. Briscoe - 1:12.9715
7. Viso - 1:13.0170
8. Conway - 1:13.0338
9. Hunter-Reay - 1:13.1048
10. Tagliani - 1:13.1187
11. Rahal - 1:13.1366
12. Franchitti - 1:13.1524
13. Sato - 01:13.1913
14. Servia - 01:13.2537
15. Andretti - 01:13.2586
16. Bourdais - 01:13.2904
17. deSilvestro - 01:13.4546
18. Kimball - 01:13.4830
19. Patrick - 01:13.7102
20. Meira - 01:13.7737
21. Saavedra - 01:13.8020
22. Hildebrand - 01:14.5534
23. Jakes - 01:14.7775
24. Beatriz - 01:15.0777