Fresh from his star performance for Acura in the Sebring 12 Hours, Scott Dixon returned to his usual Ganassi Dallara-Honda and set the pace in the IndyCar Series test at Barber Motorsports Park.
The reigning champion was fastest for the most of the day, eventually setting a best lap of 1m10.5005s. Earlier in the week he had put the brand new Acura LMP1 car on pole position at Sebring and was the quickest of manufacturer's drivers in yesterday's race, running fourth until halted by a suspension breakage.
"It's good to be back in the Indycar," said Dixon. "It's definitely much different to that car. This car is a lot more nimble. The other car on high-speed corners has a lot of grip but it feels a lot heavier, too.
"The team has done a great job for sure. Both cars definitely have got speed. It was kind of a strange day. We actually spent most of the time in the truck.
"We set our time earlier in the day, just before lunch. This afternoon we ran around on old tyres just trying a really extreme set-up, and got out on two laps at the end there."
Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing's new signing Robert Doornbos continued his highly impressive pre-season form by taking a close second place, 0.1336 seconds behind Dixon.
"I was very happy to drive on a circuit that I am familiar with, where I can use my experience in setting the car up to my liking and getting to know the team better because it's a whole new adventure for me," said Doornbos.
"In the morning we only did 10 laps and then the gearbox broke, so we had to wait a couple of hours to get it fixed. We just had to stay focused for the afternoon and make the most of it. We had a good set-up and we got the car to my liking and did a quick lap time."
Tony Kanaan was third for Andretti Green, ahead of Dixon's Ganassi team-mate Dario Franchitti - who had also raced for Acura at Sebring yesterday - and Penske duo Ryan Briscoe and Will Power. Less than a second covered the top 14 cars.
The two-day test at the 2.38-mile road course in Birmingham, Alabama, is seen as the precursor to a future IndyCar Series race date at the track, and a crowd of 10,300 fans turned out to watch the session. Only ten teams chose to participate, with HVM, 3G, Foyt and Conquest opting to run in private tests instead.
The other absentee was Milka Duno, who had driven a third Newman/Haas/Lanigan car in the previous group test at Homestead. The Venezuelan's deal with the eight-time Champ Car team is still not finalised, although she participated in a private test for NHLR at Sebring earlier this month.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Scott Dixon Ganassi 1m10.5005s 2. Robert Doornbos Newman/Haas/Lanigan 1m10.6341s + 0.1336s 3. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green 1m10.6621s + 0.1616s 4. Dario Franchitti Ganassi 1m10.6630s + 0.1625s 5. Ryan Briscoe Penske 1m10.6937s + 0.1932s 6. Will Power Penske 1m10.7772s + 0.2767s 7. Graham Rahal Newman/Haas/Lanigan 1m10.7795s + 0.2790s 8. Marco Andretti Andretti Green 1m10.8921s + 0.3916s 9. Dan Wheldon Panther 1m10.8977s + 0.3972s 10. Justin Wilson Dale Coyne 1m10.9079s + 0.4074s 11. Hideki Mutoh Andretti Green 1m10.9650s + 0.4645s 12. Mario Moraes KV 1m11.1491s + 0.6486s 13. Raphael Matos Luczo Dragon 1m11.4496s + 0.9491s 14. Danica Patrick Andretti Green 1m11.4640s + 0.9635s 15. Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold 1m11.8791s + 1.3786s 16. Ed Carpenter Vision 1m12.4355s + 1.9350s