Sharp quickest in first practice

IRL regular Scott Sharp set the fastest time on the opening day of practice for the first round of the IndyCar Series at a hot and humid Homestead this weekend

Sharp quickest in first practice

The track temperature reached 120 degrees under sunny skies during the afternoon session. With an ambient temperature of 88 degrees, humidity at 58 percent and winds at 15 mph, drivers encountered a tricky run. Sharp mastered it, taking his new Toyota-powered Dallara around the 1.5-mile oval at and average speed of 204.132 mph during cooler conditions in the morning session.

"It was just a matter of fine-tuning to today's conditions, which are obviously hot humid and slippery," Sharp said. "We are pretty pleased. When we wanted to go fast, we were able to do that. When we wanted to do race runs, we seemed to be hanging in there."

Sharp and Kelley Racing teammate Al Unser Jr. are among several drivers who switched from Chevrolet power to Toyota during the off-season. Under new IRL specs, Toyota and Honda moved their emphasis from CART to the IRL, coaxing two more high-profile CART teams to jump the fence and further reinforcing the IRL's advantage in the eight-year battle for control of U.S. open-wheel racing.

After the opening day of practice, it is clear that Toyota and Honda have the early jump on the General Motors engine, which won every championship since the IRL's inception in 1996. Chevy's fastest lap of the day - 199.558 mph - ranked only seventh among the 23 cars that tested Friday. Toyota and Honda split the top six speeds: Sharp (Toyota), Castroneves (Toyota), Roger Yasukawa (Honda), Scott Dixon (Toyota), Michael Andretti (Honda) and Tony Kanaan (Honda).

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