• UPDATE: Power leads session 3 – click here for story
Will Power hit the front in the second Friday practice for the IZOD IndyCar Series opener in St. Petersburg (scroll down for video highlights).
The Australian, who lost the 2010 title to Dario Franchitti at the final round after leading the championship for most of the year, brushed the wall early on and sustained minor damage to his car. But a 1:03.3 lap right at the end of the hour thrust the Verizon Penske driver Power to the top of the order, ahead of Franchitti (Target Chip Ganassi).
“I was very surprised to be P1, honestly,” Power said. “I think I had a bit left in me to show. It was not a very good session for me, but it's going to be a long weekend. The Verizon car is good, but you can see the competition is getting closer. Now we just have to manage the gap. I think it will be very tough to get in the (Firestone) Fast Six. It's going to be unbelievably close.”
Mike Conway impressed again for Andretti Autosport with the third-fastest time, ahead of another Penske and Ganassi group: Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves completing the top six ahead of the next Andretti car of Marco Andretti. Morning pacesetter Ryan Hunter-Reay was only 17th for Andretti after damaging his suspension in a minor impact with the barriers.
"We had a lap good enough for P5 with the DHL/Sun Drop car and then I clipped the right rear tow link, and bent it," explained Hunter-Reay. "With these street circuits, it only takes a mistake of a couple inches and that was enough to sideline us for the rest of the session. We had a good car this morning and we just need to go back to that. Everything looks good."
Sebastien Bourdais showed he and Dale Coyne Racing are moving in the right direction by getting up to eighth, while Tony Kanaan also made rapid progress with KV to take ninth. Andretti's Danica Patrick completed the top 10.
Farther back, Sebastian Saavedra was an eye-catching 14th for Conquest Racing, and Raphael Matos ended the first day of AFS Racing's new solo IndyCar program in 18th.
After causing the morning's only yellow, KV driver EJ Viso was in trouble again this afternoon when he ran wide at the quick chicane near the end of the lap and ended up spinning into the barriers, leaving him 22nd in the order.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Will Power Penske 1m03.3759s
2. Dario Franchitti Ganassi 1m03.5180s + 0.1421s
3. Mike Conway Andretti 1m03.6660s + 0.2901s
4. Ryan Briscoe Penske 1m03.7214s + 0.3455s
5. Scott Dixon Ganassi 1m03.8734s + 0.4975s
6. Helio Castroneves Penske 1m03.9049s + 0.5290s
7. Marco Andretti Andretti 1m04.0400s + 0.6641s
8. Sebastien Bourdais Dale Coyne 1m04.0672s + 0.6913s
9. Tony Kanaan KV 1m04.0698s + 0.6939s
10. Danica Patrick Andretti 1m04.1039s + 0.7280s
11. Justin Wilson Dreyer & Reinbold 1m04.1353s + 0.7594s
12. Oriol Servia Newman/Haas 1m04.1476s + 0.7717s
13. Alex Tagliani Schmidt 1m04.2355s + 0.8596s
14. Sebastian Saavedra Conquest 1m04.2414s + 0.8655s
15. Takuma Sato KV 1m04.2429s + 0.8670s
16. Graham Rahal Ganassi 1m04.3127s + 0.9368s
17. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti 1m04.3313s + 0.9554s
18. Raphael Matos AFS 1m04.3873s + 1.0114s
19. Charlie Kimball Ganassi 1m04.4961s + 1.1202s
20. Vitor Meira Foyt 1m04.9544s + 1.5785s
21. JR Hildebrand Panther 1m05.0510s + 1.6751s
22. EJ Viso KV 1m05.0727s + 1.6968s
23. Simona de Silvestro HVM 1m05.1105s + 1.7346s
24. James Jakes Dale Coyne 1m05.6427s + 2.2668s
25. Ana Beatriz Dreyer & Reinbold 1m05.7036s + 2.3277s