Will Power led a Penske 1-2-3 sweep of the top lap times on a truncated final day of IndyCar testing at Barber Motorsports Park.
The morning session was canceled outright due to extremely cold temperatures at the Alabama road course, and there was then a further delay when reigning champion Dario Franchitti crashed heavily. Although the Ganassi driver was unhurt, barrier repairs were required, halting the session for an additional hour.
Once the test finally got under way in earnest, Penske showed what a strong force its expanded three-car full-time lineup will be this year, as Power led the way with a 1m09.8724sec lap, just over a tenth ahead of his teammates Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe.
Power said he was having no ill effects from the injuries that ended his 2009 season – the Australian suffered broken vertebrae during a multi-car incident in practice at Infineon Raceway last August.
"The first lap (Feb. 24) felt like normal," said Power. "I didn't even give my back a thought. I haven't even really thought of the accident at all. To me, it happened, I've worked really hard to get back to the fitness I had and I'm probably even stronger (in the midsection), because I really focused on it.
"I did a seven-mile race in Indy the other week and ran six miles over the weekend and that's the last thing doctors let you do is running. It doesn't hurt at all to run, so I say it's healed."
Franchitti's crash left Scott Dixon to do most of Ganassi's running and the double champion took fourth place, feeling that a spin and traffic compromised what would have been his best times.
Justin Wilson remained with the lead pack, taking fifth after being third on Wednesday. His Dreyer & Reinbold teammate Mike Conway also showed much improved form, conquering the setup issues that had left him down the order on day one and leaping to seventh.
Takuma Sato impressed again with sixth place for KV Racing, although his teammate E.J. Viso lost time with a variety of issues and was only 15th. Potential third driver James Rossiter also continued to test for the squad in a car painted in a livery reminiscent of the famous JPS Lotus F1 cars (above) – spurring suggestions that KV and British driver Rossiter might be the Lotus affiliation with an existing IndyCar team for the Indianapolis 500 that Lotus admitted earlier this week it was pursuing. Rossiter wound up with the 11th-fastest time.
Marco Andretti was the best of the Andretti Autosport quartet in eighth, while Indy Lights graduate Mario Romancini took a promising 10th for Conquest. Danica Patrick was a disappointed 17th, just behind fellow female driver Simona de Silvestro, who was testing for HVM again.
De Ferran Luczo Dragon driver Raphael Matos' day was also cut short by a crash, leaving him 18th ahead of Franchitti and Jay Howard, who took over from Sarah Fisher for the final day.
The IndyCar Series commences on a new street course in Sao Paulo on March 14, and will race at Barber for the first time on April 11.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Will Power Penske 1m09.8724s
2. Helio Castroneves Penske 1m10.0084s + 0.1360s
3. Ryan Briscoe Penske 1m10.0459s + 0.1735s
4. Scott Dixon Ganassi 1m10.0594s + 0.1870s
5. Justin Wilson Dreyer & Reinbold 1m10.0869s + 0.2145s
6. Takuma Sato KV 1m10.2070s + 0.3346s
7. Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold 1m10.2497s + 0.3773s
8. Marco Andretti Andretti 1m10.3956s + 0.5232s
9. Hideki Mutoh Newman/Haas/Lanigan 1m10.4451s + 0.5727s
10. Mario Romancini Conquest 1m10.5487s + 0.6763s
11. James Rossiter KV 1m10.5700s + 0.6976s
12. Tony Kanaan Andretti 1m10.6704s + 0.7980s
13. Vitor Meira Foyt 1m10.6963s + 0.8239s
14. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti 1m10.7123s + 0.8399s
15. EJ Viso KV 1m11.3140s + 1.4416s
16. Simona de Silvestro HVM 1m11.3351s + 1.4627s
17. Danica Patrick Andretti 1m11.5112s + 1.6388s
18. Raphael Matos de Ferran Luczo Dragon 1m11.5484s + 1.6760s
19. Dario Franchitti Ganassi 1m12.9810s + 3.1086s
20. Jay Howard Sarah Fisher 1m14.1883s + 4.3159s