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Penske fastest in Homestead test

Team Penske duo Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr. set the pace in road course testing at Homestead today

The test provided IRL IndyCar teams with an additional chance to get some non-oval mileage prior to this weekend's St. Petersburg street race.

Castroneves topped the times with a 1:10.5399 lap, 0.2 seconds faster than Hornish. The Brazilian is regarded as one of the series' best road and street course racers, but he only lasted 12 laps in last year's St. Petersburg race before tangling with the lapped A.J. Foyt IV.

"We'll take what we've learned here today and put it on the track in St. Pete, and hopefully, we'll do more than 12 laps this year," Castroneves said.

Hornish was very pleased with his form, especially considering his lack of road course experience.

Although he competed in Formula Ford and Toyota Atlantic in his youth, Hornish has been in the formerly all-oval IRL since 2000, whereas most of his main rivals are Champ Car converts. Despite this, he qualified in the top six at St. Petersburg last season.

"Going into St. Petersburg last year, we weren't sure how I was going to do because my road course experience was limited," Hornish said. "I think as far as just getting a handle on the car and getting through qualifying, I feel a lot more confident."

Bryan Herta was third quickest for Andretti-Green Racing. A full list of times was not released.

For rookie P.J. Chesson, the Homestead test was his first chance to drive an IndyCar on a road course.

The Hemelgarn driver has spent most of his career on dirt tracks with the World of Outlaws sprint car series, although he did contest last year's Indy Pro Series support race at St. Petersburg and finished seventh. He is not expecting much from this weekend's race.

"They're going to have to sprinkle a little dirt on that bitch before I'm comfortable around there," Chesson said. "I need to get some more time on a road course because I don't have a clue about the (gear) shifting.

"I don't know much about anything. I don't know how hard I can push the thing, or what the brakes do compared to the Indy Pro Series car."

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