Dixon tops first IndyCar test of 2009
|By Jeff Olson||Wednesday, February 25th 2009, 05:19 GMT|
Scott Dixon led the way in the IndyCar Series' first test session of the 2009 season at Homestead on Tuesday night, ahead of Ryan Briscoe and Dario Franchitti, while Mario Moraes, Will Power and Robert Doornbos impressed with strong performances in their wake.
Defending champion Dixon (Ganassi) had the fastest lap of the six-hour session, a 25.2919-second (211.372 mph) effort, ahead of his likely title rival Briscoe (Penske) and his Ganassi teammate Franchitti, the 2007 champion who has returned from NASCAR for 2009.
But it was Moraes, a 20-year-old who moved from Dale Coyne Racing to KV Racing Technology during the off-season, who raised eyebrows with his lap of 210.151 mph in fourth place.
"It wasn't about speed but to try to get a good set-up for races," Moraes said. "It think it went well, and I felt comfortable with the car. We will come back tomorrow and try out other set-ups and try to learn more about the car."
Power, who raced for KVRT last year but landed with Team Penske as a temporary or possible long-term substitute for Helio Castroneves, had the fifth-fastest lap of the session.
"The day went well," Power said. "I was just getting back into the groove. I haven't been on an oval in a while, so we went through a number of things and we were able to get the car better.
"I'm really just trying to learn the car and the team as quickly as I can. We're not trying to set the world on fire in practice, we just want to learn and get better."
Castroneves, who did not attend Tuesday's events, is scheduled to face a lengthy trial on tax evasion charges beginning on March 2 in Miami.
Meanwhile, Doorbos, the former Champ Car and Formula One racer, followed Andretti Green's Marco Andretti with the seventh-fastest lap among the 20-car field in his first effort for Newman/Haas/Lanigan.
Briscoe got acquainted with Eric Cowdin, Tony Kanaan's long-time engineer who joined Penske late last season, by first running a set-up lap for Power in the No.3 car that stood as the eighth-fastest lap of the day, then recording the second-best lap in the No.6 car.
"We had a lot of time to test several things, and the session also gave me the perfect opportunity to work with my new race engineer," Briscoe said. "Today was a lot about learning to understand each other. All in all I'm happy with how the day went, and I think we were able to make a lot of gains."
Kanaan (Andretti Green) and Graham Rahal (Newman/Haas/Lanigan) rounded out the top 10. The two-day test resumes at 4pm local time today.
Pos Driver Team Speed 1. Scott Dixon Ganassi 211.372 2. Ryan Briscoe Penske 210.793 3. Dario Franchitti Ganassi 210.603 4. Mario Moraes KV 210.151 5. Will Power Penske 210.138 6. Marco Andretti Andretti Green 209.696 7. Robert Doornbos Newman/Haas/Lanigan 209.584 8. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green 209.067 9. Graham Rahal Newman/Haas/Lanigan 208.802 10. Danica Patrick Andretti Green 208.720 11. Raphael Matos Luczo Dragon 208.694 12. Ed Carpenter Vision 208.672 13. EJ Viso HVM 208.637 14. Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold 208.568 15. Hideki Mutoh Andretti Green 208.029 16. Milka Duno Newman/Haas/Lanigan 207.403 17. Jaime Camara Conquest 207.378 18. Vitor Meira Foyt 207.184 19. Justin Wilson Dale Coyne 206.843 20. Stanton Barrett 3G 205.834