BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Will Power, who has won twice at Barber Motorsports Park and was the Verizon P1 Award winner for the 2014 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, posted the quickest lap of the two-day Verizon IndyCar Series test of the new aerodynamic bodywork supplied by Chevrolet and Honda at the 2.38-mile, 17-turn road course.
The reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion, driving the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, had a best lap of 1 minute, 7.3118 seconds (123.010 mph) in the March 17 morning session, which also was quickest overall.
That was a full second quicker than his 2014 pole-winning time on Firestone alternate tires. Scott Dixon holds the track record with a lap of 1:06.7750 in Round 1 of qualifying in 2013, also on Firestone alternate tires that offer more grip and under cooler ambient temperatures that also adds track grip.
Click it: Combined session report
Twenty-one drivers bettered Power’s 2014 pole lap time over the four sessions. Twenty-three drivers totaled 2,832 laps in the initial full-team testing in preparation for the March 29 season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
“The aero kits produce so much more downforce and there’s a lot of grip, so the cars are faster everywhere,” Power said. “I would expect to break lap records just about everywhere. I think we found some good stuff as a team for St. Petersburg and when we come back to race here (April 26).”
Dixon, who has finished second or third in the five races at Barber Motorsports Park in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, recorded the quickest lap of 1:07.4805 on March 16, and bettered it in the waning minutes of March 17 (1:07.3996) to place second overall. Graham Rahal posted the quickest lap among the Honda contingent (1:07.6203) in the No. 15 Mi-Jack Rahal entry for Letterman Lanigan Racing. Stefano Coletti was quickest of the four rookies participating (1:07.5224), and third overall, in the No. 4 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet.
The high-downforce platforms, which with multiple options available can be tailored to a driver's personal style and individual racetrack, will produce performance gains throughout the 16-race season. The radical designs also differentiate the manufacturers, who also supply the 2.2-liter, twin-turbo-charged V-6 engines.
Every team will continue development of the road/street course and short oval aero platform at two racetracks next week before reconvening March 27 for the opening of practice on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary St. Petersburg street circuit.
“As far as overall driving style we’ve been pretty pleased that the kit hasn’t greatly upset a lot of the base knowledge that we have of the car,” said 2013 St. Petersburg race winner James Hinchcliffe, driver of the No. 5 Arrow/Lucas Oil Honda for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. “You can be a bit braver in certain corners, but I don’t think I’ve had to revamp what I’ve been doing, which is nice.
“It’s not like when we went from the IR-03 to the DW12; that was a complete change in driving philosophy for me. This has been a nice progression of more grip, more downforce, more fun.
“There is still some bit to come and a lot of development to do. This car is going to get better and better through the first half of the year as we understand more and more. To see the times we’ve been doing given the warm track conditions (at Barber), it gives you a lot of confidence heading into St. Pete to see records fall.”
A speedway aero kit will be delivered to teams by April 1 and utilized for the first time in May for the Indianapolis 500.
Tuesday, March 17 - Open Test Day #2 - Barber Motorsports Park