Will Power closes 2-day test atop the speed chart

Will Power topped the speed charts for a second consecutive day

of IndyCar testing at Barber Motorsports Park.

The Penske Racing driver turned a lap at 1:07.1329, which was

more than 3 seconds faster than last year’s pole winning time set

by teammate Helio Castroneves.

”Good start for the spring training,” Power said. ”I think we

got some good stuff to come back here for the race. It’s just

phenomenal how tight it is up front all the way through the field,

and also just how fast these cars are around here, it’s just

unbelievable.”

The IndyCar season opens March 24 in St. Pete, and Power said

he’s got very little planned between now and the opener.

”Just rest up, get ready and start the season,” he said.

The fourth and final session Wednesday afternoon saw 14 of the

28 driver-car combinations post their best lap times. James

Hinchcliffe was right behind Power at 1:07.3839, followed by Justin

Wilson and Scott Dixon.

But Tony Kanaan’s time of 1:07.5478 in Wednesday morning’s

session stood as fourth best overall.

”It’s a good feeling to go into the first race of the season

after a productive test like this,” Kanaan said. ”Being here for

two days gave us the ability to sort out the small bugs that we had

on the first outing and work through our full test schedule. We

made some good progress with the car, the new Firestone tires are

working great and our Chevy engine was flawless. I’m ready for the

green flag in St. Pete.”

Defending series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay was fifth fastest

overall with a lap turned Wednesday morning but felt the Andretti

Autosport group is a long way off from the Penske cars of Power and

Castroneves right now.

”We need to close the gap, but we have some things to work

on,” Hunter-Reay said. ”We know what’s in the car – we need to

close the gap to whittle on the Penske boys, but all in all the

team did a good job over the test.”

It wasn’t as smooth for Marco Andretti, who was 22nd overall and

lagged far behind teammates Hinchcliffe and Hunter-Reay. The fourth

Andretti driver, newcomer E.J. Viso, was 20th.

”We got a lot done, but just not a lot of forward progress for

No. 25 car today,” Andretti said. ”It was a disappointing day,

but obviously our teammates were quick, so we can look at what they

are doing and be ready to come back in a couple weeks.”

James Jakes tested Wednesday for the first time with new team

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He was ninth quickest in the

afternoon and 11th overall.

Ana Beatriz ran 41 laps Wednesday morning for Dale Coyne Racing

– bringing her two-day total to 72 laps – before turning the car

over to Stefan Wilson. Justin Wilson’s younger brother completed 42

laps.

Both Beatriz and Stefan Wilson are trying to put together deals

to drive a limited schedule in the second Coyne car.

”It’s great to have a taste of IndyCar,” said Stefan Wilson,

who has two Indy Lights victories. ”Unfortunately, we missed an

hour-and-a-half after lunch so it was just a brief taste, but

hopefully we’ll be able to get another test in. There was a lot to

adjust to, getting use to gearing, coming into pit stops and

leaving the pits as well. It was a lot to take in on the first day.

It’s good to just kind of shake the cobwebs off and get back in a

race car on the road course.”

NASCAR driver AJ Allmendinger, who is making a limited return to

open-wheel by driving in the Indianapolis 500 and at Barber for

Penske Racing, wound up 18th overall. He said he’s still got some

learning to do to get reacquainted with an Indy car.

”We still have a long ways to go in the learning process, but I

was pleased with some of the steps we were able to make,”

Allmendinger said. ”Obviously these Chevy engines are fast when

you look at the best two times, now it is my job to start getting

in front of the car and learn how to turn that speed into better

lap times.”