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Phoenix IndyCar test: Helio Castroneves fastest for Penske

Penske's Helio Castroneves and Will Power set the pace on the first day of IndyCar's official pre-season test at Phoenix International Raceway

Castroneves and Power reeled off laps at 19.5858 seconds (187.850mph) and 19.5931s respectively in the first of Friday's two sessions.

Andretti Autosport Honda driver Marco Andretti had the fastest time of the following night session as he lapped in 19.6038s, just a tick faster than reigning champion Scott Dixon's 19.6066s around the 1.022-mile PIR oval.

"A lot of drivers were running different set-ups - there were more in race trim and not single-lap qualifications [spec] - so we'll get a better idea what it will be like tomorrow," Andretti said.

"It's pretty heavy in between Turns 1 and 2 because the steering gets pretty heavy there.

"You really have to wring the car's neck to get a good time here - that's what I like about it."

A traditional IndyCar venue that first hosted major American single-seater racing in 1964, Phoenix returns to the schedule this year for the first time since 2005.

"It's great to be back here," said Andretti Autosport team owner Michael Andretti.

"I love this place. It's one of my favourite ovals."

Behind the Penske pair in the daytime session, Josef Newgarden was third for Ed Carpenter Racing, ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya in another Penske entry.

Graham Rahal rounded out the top five and was the fastest Honda driver at 19.8501s for Rahal Letterman Lanigan.

ECR was quick again in the evening, when owner/driver Ed Carpenter was third and Newgarden fifth.

They were split by James Hinchcliffe, on his first appearance alongside the full field since his horrific crash in Indianapolis 500 practice last May.

"It feels like the first day back at school," Hinchcliffe said.

"It's competition that you really miss most of all so it's great to be back here with cars on the track."

With Schmidt Peterson driver Hinchcliffe making it two Honda runners in the top four on Friday evening, Michael Andretti was encouraged by the Japanese marque's performance level after Chevrolet's 2015 supremacy.

"It is definitely better and a step in the right direction," Andretti said.

"I think the engine is really good. They made big gains there. It's early, early days but we are cautiously optimistic."

Six more hours of testing is scheduled for Saturday, again split between three hours in the daytime and three under the lights.

AFTERNOON RESULTS:

Pos Driver Team Car Time Gap Laps
1 Helio Castroneves Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 19.5858s - 48
2 Will Power Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 19.5931s 0.0073s 42
3 Josef Newgarden Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 19.6810s 0.0952s 77
4 Juan Pablo Montoya Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 19.7836s 0.1978s 35
5 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Dallara/Honda 19.8501s 0.2643s 34
6 Simon Pagenaud Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 19.8522s 0.2664s 70
7 Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda 19.9517s 0.3659s 49
8 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 19.9517s 0.3659s 46
9 Ed Carpenter Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 20.0086s 0.4228s 23
10 Tony Kanaan Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 20.0432s 0.4574s 41
11 Gabby Chaves Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara/Honda 20.2287s 0.6429s 47
12 Charlie Kimball Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 20.2293s 0.6435s 47
13 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda 20.2500s 0.6642s 54
14 Max Chilton Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 20.2709s 0.6851s 48
15 James Hinchcliffe Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara/Honda 20.2938s 0.7080s 40
16 Takuma Sato AJ Foyt Enterprises Dallara/Honda 20.3268s 0.7410s 47
17 Carlos Munoz Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda 20.3817s 0.7959s 60
18 Sebastien Bourdais KVSH Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 20.4011s 0.8153s 35
19 Conor Daly Dale Coyne Racing Dallara/Honda 20.4261s 0.8403s 50
20 Luca Filippi Dale Coyne Racing Dallara/Honda 20.4364s 0.8506s 63
21 Jack Hawksworth AJ Foyt Enterprises Dallara/Honda 20.8167s 1.2309s 20

EVENING RESULTS:

Pos Driver Team Car Time Gap Laps
1 Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda 19.6038s - 67
2 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 19.6066s 0.0028s 63
3 Ed Carpenter Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 19.6764s 0.0726s 86
4 James Hinchcliffe Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara/Honda 19.6975s 0.0937s 62
5 Josef Newgarden Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 19.7110s 0.1072s 77
6 Carlos Munoz Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda 19.7492s 0.1454s 78
7 Charlie Kimball Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 19.7564s 0.1526s 43
8 Tony Kanaan Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 19.7688s 0.1650s 70
9 Gabby Chaves Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara/Honda 19.7870s 0.1832s 79
10 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda 19.7951s 0.1913s 72
11 Simon Pagenaud Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 19.8416s 0.2378s 96
12 Helio Castroneves Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 19.9120s 0.3082s 68
13 Max Chilton Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 19.9783s 0.3745s 99
14 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Dallara/Honda 19.9991s 0.3953s 55
15 Takuma Sato AJ Foyt Enterprises Dallara/Honda 20.0000s 0.3962s 62
16 Conor Daly Dale Coyne Racing Dallara/Honda 20.0316s 0.4278s 95
17 Sebastien Bourdais KVSH Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 20.0853s 0.4815s 70
18 Jack Hawksworth AJ Foyt Enterprises Dallara/Honda 20.1181s 0.5143s 66
19 Luca Filippi Dale Coyne Racing Dallara/Honda 20.1285s 0.5247s 71
20 Juan Pablo Montoya Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 20.1761s 0.5723s 80
21 Will Power Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 20.2699s 0.6661s 29

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