Power Tops Brazil Practice Times For Verizon Team Penske

By Auto News Log • March 14th, 2010

SAO PAULO, Brazil – Team Penske weathered adversity Saturday and recorded some of the best laps of the day while preparing for Sunday’s Sao Paulo Indy 300, the opening race of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season.

With qualifying postponed until Sunday morning by IndyCar Series officials because of difficulty with grip in one area of the track, Team Penske’s three drivers – Will Power, Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe – found themselves at, or near, the top of the speed charts at the end of the day’s practice sessions.

Power and his No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda had the fastest lap of the day – 1:31.2980 (99.998 mph) around the 11-turn, 2.6-mile street course in the streets of Sao Paulo.

Qualifying sessions scheduled Saturday were postponed until Sunday morning due to slippery track conditions near the start/finish line. Officials plan to grind the track surface overnight in an effort to improve grip.

“I like the circuit,” said Power. “I think it was a good decision to qualify (on Sunday). It is a little tough going down the slippery start/finish straight. It will be a very physical race. Everyone got closer (in lap times) toward the end of the (final practice) session, which will make qualifying tighter and make it better for the fans.”

A native of Sao Paulo, Castroneves had the 10th-fastest lap of the three combined practice sessions – 1:31.8565 (99.390 mph) in the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda. Briscoe was 11th-best in the 24-car field with a lap of 1:31.9731 (99.264 mph) in the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda.

“It’s bumpy everywhere, but all street courses are like that,” Castroneves said. “Certainly for the first day, there was a little bit of a blip on the radar with the straightaway, but it was a great call by the IZOD IndyCar Series to think about safety first for the drivers and the fans as well. So, we will have the morning practice and then Team Penske will see what we can do in qualifying. It’s awesome to race here in front of my hometown fans – they have been great, and we’re all looking forward to putting on a good show for them tomorrow.”

Briscoe had a minor incident at the start of the second practice session when his car spun and made slight contact the wall on the start/finish straightaway. The car was repaired and returned to the track in the final afternoon practice.

“I really like the layout,” Briscoe said. “There are a few bumps here and there, but it’s nothing worse than Edmonton. The bumps we can deal with, but the hard part is the start-finish line. It’s like ice. We’re not getting full throttle all the way down the straight.”

All three Team Penske drivers indicated Sunday’s race will be physically demanding, given the qualifying-then-race format, grip issues, bumpiness of the track, heat and speed. Power will race for the first time since he injured his back in a crash in August at Infineon Raceway and he believes fitness could be his biggest ally on Sunday.

“I had to work especially hard since I broke my back and I was out for a long period of time,” Power said. “It will be the survival of the fittest. You’ve got a lot to do in one day. Everyone will be physically and mentally drained.”

Qualifying is scheduled to begin at 6:30 a.m. ET Sunday morning. Coverage of the Sao Paulo Indy 300 is set to begin at 11:30 a.m. ET on Versus.

Source: Penske Racing

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