Will Power set the fastest time in the second practice session ahead of this weekend's IndyCar season opener in St. Petersburg.
Power moved to the top of the timing screens early on with a 1m01.4467s lap, and his time -- just 0.07 seconds slower than the lap that earned him pole position here last year -- was never beaten. The Penske driver, who's taken pole at this circuit for the past three years, commented: “We are still fighting to find the right balance handling-wise on the Verizon car. We put a good lap in there early but we weren't that good on older tires so we have a bit of work to do.”
Morning pacesetter, Andretti Autosport's reigning champion Ryan Hunter-Reay came closest to Power with a time 0.1785sec slower, while Simona de Silvestro's move to KV and Chevrolet power got off to an encouraging start with the third-best lap. The Swiss driver finished up 0.06sec off Hunter-Reay's time, and said that she was pleased with her early progress.
"Last year we came in here and we knew it was going to be a struggle, and this year we come after a really good Barber test and it showed right away," said de Silvestro, who was hamstrung by Lotus engines last season. "Even this morning I thought we were pretty, quick even if we still have a little bit of work to do on the car. It's definitely a relief to know we can be fast and we can be right up there with the other guys."
Oriol Servia was fourth fastest for Panther DRR just ahead of Takuma Sato, who was the best of the Honda-powered entries in his first race for AJ Foyt Racing. Helio Castroneves (Penske), Tony Kanaan (KV Racing) and James Hinchcliffe (Andretti) were next, followed by Tristan Vautier of Schmidt Peterson Motorsport. The rookie had a late coming-together with Andretti's EJ Viso, although neither car appeared to suffer any damage. Marco Andretti completed the top 10.
Ganassi's quiet start continued, with Charlie Kimball leading the team with the 13th-best lap, leaving Dario Franchitti 17th and Scott Dixon 19th.
Also having a frustrating afternoon were Josef Newgarden (Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing), who was forced to park after developing a suspected gearbox problem, and Ana Beatriz, who missed the opening phase of the session while the Dale Coyne team worked on an unspecified mechanical glitch.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Will Power Penske Dallara-Chevy 1m01.4467s
2. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Dallara-Chevy 1m01.6252s + 0.1785s
3. Simona de Silvestro KV Dallara-Chevy 1m01.6895s + 0.2428s
4. Oriol Servia Panther/DRR Dallara-Chevy 1m01.7650s + 0.3183s
5. Takuma Sato Foyt Dallara-Honda 1m01.7703s + 0.3236s
6. Helio Castroneves Penske Dallara-Chevy 1m01.7853s + 0.3386s
7. Tony Kanaan KV Dallara-Chevy 1m01.8087s + 0.3620s
8. James Hinchcliffe Andretti Dallara-Chevy 1m02.0039s + 0.5572s
9. Tristan Vautier Schmidt Dallara-Honda 1m02.0459s + 0.5992s
10. Marco Andretti Andretti Dallara-Chevy 1m02.0877s + 0.6410s
11. James Jakes Rahal Dallara-Honda 1m02.1030s + 0.6563s
12. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt Dallara-Honda 1m02.1134s + 0.6667s
13. Charlie Kimball Ganassi Dallara-Honda 1m02.1962s + 0.7495s
14. Graham Rahal Rahal Dallara-Honda 1m02.3596s + 0.9129s
15. EJ Viso Andretti Dallara-Chevy 1m02.3622s + 0.9155s
16. Justin Wilson Coyne Dallara-Honda 1m02.3833s + 0.9366s
17. Dario Franchitti Ganassi Dallara-Honda 1m02.4086s + 0.9619s
18. Sebastien Bourdais Dragon Dallara-Chevy 1m02.4166s + 0.9699s
19. Scott Dixon Ganassi Dallara-Honda 1m02.5031s + 1.0564s
20. Alex Tagliani Herta Dallara-Honda 1m02.5098s + 1.0631s
21. Josef Newgarden Fisher Dallara-Honda 1m02.5305s + 1.0838s
22. Sebastian Saavedra Dragon Dallara-Chevy 1m02.5581s + 1.1114s
23. JR Hildebrand Panther/DRR Dallara-Chevy 1m02.9057s + 1.4590s
24. Ed Carpenter Carpenter Dallara-Chevy 1m03.1420s + 1.6953s
25. Ana Beatriz Coyne Dallara-Honda 1m03.9670s + 2.5203s