Even a spin and trip through the gravel couldn't slow down Helio Castroneves in the second and final day of the IZOD IndyCar Series Open Test on the Barber Motorsports Park road course. The Team Penske driver bettered his best lap time by more than a half-second in the final session to top the two-day test.
Castroneves' best lap (his 48th of 52) of 1:11.943 in the No. 3 Team Penske car was the quickest of the 24 cars to participate in the lone Open Test before the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg next week.
"I was expecting something different from the car because it kept changing throughout the day based on the track," said Castroneves, explaining his brief off-course excursion. "I was expecting the car was going to push but it went the opposite way. The good news is that nothing was damaged."
Teammate Will Power, who led the way yesterday and in the morning session Tuesday, finished second quickest with his morning-fastest lap of 1:11.9636 in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car. Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon, Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe and Newman/Haas Racing's Oriol Servia rounded out the top five.
"This was a really good couple of days of testing," said Power. "We did a lot of work and learned tons of valuable information about our car here at Barber. Today we practiced pit stops, which are every bit as important as speed on the track with how tight the competition is in this series. I am definitely ready to get this season started."
The IZOD IndyCar Series will open the 2011 season on March 27 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The series returns to Barber Motorsports Park for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 11.
• Click here for the full report from day 2.
DAY 2 NOTEBOOK:
• Mike Conway's test came to an early end when his No. 27 Andretti Autosport car made contact with the tire barriers early in the morning session. Conway, whose team had been practicing live pit stops, lost control of his car after the team put on a new set of tires to begin its test day.
"I was braking into Turns 14 and 15; the rear got very, very loose. I corrected it once, corrected it twice, but the second time the rear just kissed the grass and that was it," related the Briton. "With the wet grass, it just went straight off. It's disappointing because we had a lot to get through today. I feel sorry for the guys; it's a shame. But, I think we got through some good stuff here yesterday, so hopefully we'll come back here strong."
Panther Racing rookie J.R. Hildebrand also missed the full day of testing after the team determined his car could not be repaired at the track following his shunt in the National Guard car.