The first official IZOD IndyCar Series test of the 2013 season has come and gone at Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Alabama. What we saw surprised us all as speed was the story of the day.
26 drivers took to the 17-turn, 2.38-mile road course today and 25 of them tested faster than last year’s pole record lap laid down by Will Power, who turned a lap of 1 minute, 9.8529 seconds in Round 1 of qualifications last April.
Today, Power was fastest yet again as his top speed was just over 2-seconds quicker than last year’s record lap. His lap of 1:07.8625 turned in the second session was quickest of the day. He also was fastest in his No. 12 Verizon Wireless Chevrolet in the first session with a lap of 1:08.4984. At the time that was the record until he turned that blistering lap this afternoon.
Penske Teammate Helio Castroneves was second (1:07.9388) in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske car, while James Hinchcliffe was third (1:07.9869) in the No. 27 GoDaddy.com car for Andretti Autosport.
Power said of Tuesday’s two sessions, “The car is incredibly hooked up here. I never felt quicker in this car. It’s good to have Penske 1-2; it’s only the first day of testing but it shows we’ve worked hard in the winter and I think as a team we’re determined to kick a couple of boxes this year. The Indy 500 and the championship are at the top of the list. I’ve let it go too many times.”
The third driver in the Penske camp, A.J. Allmendinger, was 16th quickest among the 26 drivers today. It was the second time since 2006 he’s been behind the wheel of an open wheel car. He turned a lap of 1:08.5098 in the No. 2 Izod Chevrolet.
“Today was another positive step in the learning process and I thought the No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet showed some good speed Allmendinger said. We need as many laps as we can get but my teammates are being great about sharing information to accelerate the learning curve and I am excited to see what we can get done tomorrow.”
Second quickest and three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Castroneves said, “”Wow it was fun to get back out there today in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet. The car was really fast and P2 today shows all the hard work the Team Penske and Chevrolet guys have put in over the offseason. The grip was incredible and the close times today show how competitive the racing will be this year. Hopefully tomorrow is another good day so we can keep getting ready for St. Pete.”
It wasn’t just a great day for Team Penske as eight different teams were represented in the top 10 of today’s overall speed chart. Mike Conway (Rahal/Letterman/Langian) and E.J. Viso (Andretti Autosport) rounded out the top five while Simona de Silvestro (KV Racing), Oriol Servia (DRR/Panther), Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing), Josef Newgarden (Sarah Fisher-Hartman Racing) and last year’s rookie of the year Simon Pagenaud (Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports) were among the ten fastest respectively.
It was also nearly even among the speeds between the two engine manufacturers as Chevrolet had six cars in the top 10 while Honda had four.
The cars return to action tomorrow at Barber as we all certainly hope it could be as good as today. If today’s test was any indication how this season is going to be we’re in for a treat.
Last season was among the best ones in the history of IndyCar racing, but if speeds are high with level competition of the engine manufacturers and how close the speeds are racing is going to be superb. 19 of the 26 drivers were within one-second of Power’s lap as that says how close the racing and competition will be.
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