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Power Fastest In St. Pete Streets

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, March 23 2012

Will Power still know his way around the streets of St. Pete. (File photo courtesy of the IZOD IndyCar Series)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

A new race car was no problem for Will Power on the Streets of St. Pete Friday.

Power, of Verizon Team Penske, picked up where he left off on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary circuit to pace the opening day of IZOD IndyCar Series practice for Sunday’s Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The Australian recorded a lap of 1:02.0077 at 104.503 mph in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet – 0.0854-seconds quicker than Ryan Briscoe in the No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevy – to earn the right to select his qualifying group for Pole Qualifying on Saturday.

“We didn’t do many laps in the second session; we wanted to conserve (Firestone) tires until we have a better understanding of how they degrade and it puts us in a good position for tomorrow in practice,” said Power, who started last year’s race on-pole and finished second. “All-in-all, we’ll make some changes overnight and see what we can come up with for tomorrow.

“In practice, you don’t have the intensity that you have in qualifying, but you certainly take it seriously as far as getting a good setup. You have to get the car right because that’s what you’ll be using in qualifying and the race.”

Briscoe said the series’ new Dallara DW12 chassis, powered by Chevrolet’s twin-turbocharged V-6, already felt quicker than last year’s Dallara/Honda V-8 combination. Honda and Lotus also are introducing their turbocharged V-6 powerplants this weekend.

“It’s definitely a different feel,” Briscoe said.”There’s a lot of tuning we can do around the engine drivability and the car setup. I’m enjoying it like a kid with a new toy. I’m having a good time with it. I feel like it is suiting my driving style, and I’ve been able to learn a lot about my driving style as well with this new car. It’s good timing with a new engineer, Jonathan Diuguid. He’s doing a great job. It will be his first race as an IndyCar engineer, so we’re hoping to kick it off with a good one.”

Four-time/reigning IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti – last year’s event-winner – was third at 1:02.6099 in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda with teammates Graham Rahal and Scott Dixon just behind.

Final IndyCar practice is set from 9:55 to 10:55 a.m. Saturday with knockout qualifying and the Firestone Fast Six set from 1:55 to 3:15 p.m. The 100-lap/181-mile race will start at 12:30 p.m. (EDT) on Sunday and broadcast live by ABC-TV.

Also on Friday, Esteban Guerrieri led the two practice sessions for the Firestone Indy Lights St. Petersburg 100. Guerrieri, who finished second in series points in 2011 to Josef Newgarden, turned a lap of 1:07.3874 in the No. 11 Pistas Argentinas/Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry. Gustavo Yacaman of Team Moore Racing was second and Sebastian Saavedra of AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport was third.

Sunoco Pole Qualifying and the St. Petersburg 100 both will take place Saturday.

Friday’s combined IZOD IndyCar Series practice results on the 1.8-mile circuit for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg with ranking, car number, driver, chassis/engine/tire, time/speed and laps completed:

1 (12) Will Power, D/C/F 2:01:02.007/104.503, 26

2 (2) Ryan Briscoe, D/C/F 2:01:02.093/104.359, 35

3 (10) Dario Franchitti, D/H/F 2:01:02.2232/104.141, 35

4 (38) Graham Rahal, D/H/F 2:01:02.2924/104.026, 39

5 (9) Scott Dixon, D/H/F 2:01:02.3117/103.993, 31

6 (3) Helio Castroneves, D/C/F 2:01:02.3190/103.981, 28

7 (27) James Hinchcliffe, D/C/F 2:01:02.4632/103.741, 46

8 (11) Tony Kanaan, D/C/F 2:01:02.4814/103.711, 35

9 (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, D/C/F 2:01:02.5301/103.630, 33

10 (14) Mike Conway, D/H/F 2:01:02.5337/103.624, 37

11 (26) Marco Andretti, D/C/F 2:01:02.5624/103.577, 43

12 (77) Simon Pagenaud (R), D/H/F 2:01:02.5997/103.515, 33

13 (4) JR Hildebrand, D/C/F 2:01:02.7683/103.237, 44

14 (67) Josef Newgarden (R), D/H/F 2:01:02.7838/103.211, 32

15 (18) Justin Wilson, D/H/F 2:01:02.8915/103.035, 40

16 (78) Simona de Silvestro, D/L/F 2:01:02.9136/102.998, 43

17 (19) James Jakes, D/H/F 2:01:02.9152/102.996, 46

18 (15) Takuma Sato, D/H/F 2:01:02.9594/102.923, 38

19 (7) Sebastien Bourdais, D/L/F 2:01:02.9778/102.893, 42

20 (5) E.J. Viso, D/C/F 2:01:02.9857/102.880, 38

21 (83) Charlie Kimball, D/H/F 2:01:03.0904/102.710, 40

22 (98) Alex Tagliani, D/L/F 2:01:03.1812/102.562, 45

23 (8) Rubens Barrichello, D/C/F 2:01:03.3290/102.323, 33

24 (22) Oriol Servia, D/L/F 2:01:03.3535/102.283, 48

25 (20) Ed Carpenter, D/C/F 2:01:04.6031/100.305, 41

26 (6) Katherine Legge (R), D/L/F 2:01:04.7592/100.063, 43

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, March 23 2012
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