Power Leads Test At Sebring

Unification was great news for American open-wheel racing fans. It was also a wakeup call for teams that formerly competed in the Champ Car World Series that face a steep learning curve transitioning to the Indy Racing League.

When the end to the 12-year division was announced in late February at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the former Champ Car World Series teams had only one month to prepare for the March 29 Gainsco Auto Insurance Indy 300 at Homestead, the opening race of the 2008 IndyCar Series season.

Wednesday, three of the teams began their first test with the new equipment, a two-day session on the Sebring road circuit. KV Racing Technology, Dale Coyne Racing and Conquest Racing were working with the Honda-powered Dallara for the first time. Champ Car mandated a turbocharged Cosworth-powered Panoz.

Oriol Servia and Will Power are testing for KV, Bruno Junqueira and Mario Moraes for Dale Coyne, and Franck Perera and Enrique Bernoldi for Conquest.

Will Power was fastest on Wednesday with a best lap of 52.9685 seconds, 113.501 mph.

By comparison, Ryan Briscoe led the two-day IndyCar Series test at Sebring earlier this month with a lap of 52.4204, 114.689. Comparing apples to oranges, Perera led Champ Car's final test session at Sebring in early February with a lap of 49.806, 120.636 mph.

Second fastest was was Junqueira, 112.936 mph, followed by Perera, 112.391 mph; Servia, 112.195 mph; and Moraes, 110.085. Bernoldi had run only four laps, with a best speed of 102.353 mph. The former Champ Car competitors recorded 276 laps, led by Servia with 96.

The former Champ Car teams will have one additional test prior to the opener, a Monday-Tuesday session at Homestead running 4-10 p.m. both days.

Newman-Haas-Lanigan Racing, one of the first Champ Car teams announcing that it would make the move to the IRL, was not ready for the test, but expects to be ready for the Homestead session.

Also not at the test was HVM Racing, which also hopes to be ready for Homestead, where the team is expected to test Ernesto Viso.

Opening practice for the Gainsco Auto Insurance Indy 300 begins on Friday, March 28, at 11:30 a.m., with four-lap qualifying runs set for that evening at 6:30 p.m. The race takes the green flag at 8 p.m. the following day.

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