The 2010 championship runner-up took his Penske quickest in both the morning and afternoon sessions along the Alabama circuit, with his fastest time of 1:12.5056 proving scarcely quicker than the second-fastest driver, Scott Dixon.
In a positive sign for a series largely dominated by Penske and Ganassi last year, seven different teams were represented in the top-ten placings – although all three Penskes finished within the top-six – and there was little separation in overall lap times. Eighteen of the day’s twenty-four runners were covered by a single second after more than five hours’ running.
Justin Wilson finished third-fastest for Dreyer & Reinbold, ahead of Hélio Castroneves’ Penske, while Canadian James Hinchcliffe was fifth-fastest in the Newman/Haas entry. The rookie driver was very impressive as he aims to secure a promotion to the senior series, and he placed second-fastest in the morning session.
Sixth-quickest and under half-a-second slower than his compatriot Power, Ryan Briscoe was the slowest of Penske’s three drivers at the test, and he finished just quicker than Venezuelan driver EJ Viso in the Lotus-backed KV Racing entry.
The Andretti Autosport pairing of Mike Conway – continuing to show positive form after his extended injury lay-off – and Ryan Hunter-Reay were next up, while Alex Tagliani did extremely well to get his Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry into the top-ten.
Further down the order, defending champion Dario Franchitti was twelfth-fastest in his Ganassi entry, while prospective IndyCar returnee Sébastien Bourdais was 16th-fastest, initially complaining of poor handling with his Dale Coyne entry, before improving to finish less than 0.8 seconds off the fastest time of the day.
Two of the Andretti entries – with Marco Andretti and Danica Patrick – finished well down the order in 15th and 19th respectively, while newly-signed Conquest Racing driver Sebastian Saavedra was 21st-fastest.
GP2 driver James Jakes was given a late-notice ride in Dale Coyne’s second car, and finished just over two seconds off the pace in 23rd.
The day was generally free from incidents, although Briscoe caused a red flag when he had a spin. KV Racing’s Takuma Sato and Panther’s JR Hildebrand also had minor incidents during the day’s running.
The second day of testing is scheduled for Tuesday local time.
Barber Motorsport Park Pre-Season Test (Day 1) Lap Times:
|1.||Will Power||Team Penske||1:12.5056|
|2.||Scott Dixon||Target Chip Ganassi||+ 0.0482|
|3.||Justin Wilson||Dreyer & Reinbold Racing||+ 0.1735|
|4.||Hélio Castroneves||Team Penske||+ 0.2708|
|5.||James Hinchcliffe||Newman/Haas Racing||+ 0.3673|
|6.||Ryan Briscoe||Team Penske||+ 0.4659|
|7.||EJ Viso||KV Racing Technology Lotus||+ 0.5114|
|8.||Mike Conway||Andretti Autosport||+ 0.5282|
|9.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||+ 0.5992|
|10.||Alex Tagliani||Sam Schmidt Motorsports||+ 0.6131|
|11.||Graham Rahal||Service Central Chip Ganassi||+ 0.6310|
|12.||Dario Franchitti||Target Chip Ganassi||+ 0.6468|
|13.||Takuma Sato||KV Racing Technology Lotus||+ 0.6857|
|14.||Oriol Servià||Newman/Haas Racing||+ 0.7481|
|15.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport||+ 0.7530|
|16.||Sébastien Bourdais||Dale Coyne Racing||+ 0.7848|
|17.||Simona di Silvestro||HVM Racing||+ 0.9490|
|18.||Charlie Kimball||Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi||+ 0.9774|
|19.||Danica Patrick||Andretti Autosport||+ 1.2046|
|20.||Vitor Meira||AJ Foyt Enterprises||+ 1.2681|
|21.||Sebastian Saavedra||Conquest Racing||+ 1.2964|
|22.||JR Hildebrand||Panther Racing||+ 2.0478|
|23.||James Jakes||Dale Coyne Racing||+ 2.2719|
|24.||Ana Beatriz||Dreyer & Reinbold Racing||+ 2.5721|
[Original image via IZOD IndyCar Series]