Briscoe Leads Barber Testing

Team Penske teammates Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves topped the time sheets as IZOD IndyCar Series teams opened a two-day Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park.

Briscoe toured the 2.3-mile road course in 1 minute, 10.5020 seconds (117.438 mph) in his No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, while Castroneves was just behind at 1:10.7146 (117.090 mph) in his No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Both laps were set in the afternoon session when the sun helped heat the track surface on an unseasonably chilly day at the picturesque road course.

"It's nice to be at the top of the speed charts," Briscoe said. "It's important because it is our only test before the first race, so we're all comparing times. It's nice to have the Team Penske cars on top. It's a great way to start the year."

The third Team Penske member - Will Power in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car - was fourth quick (1:10.7637). Scott Dixon, the 2009 championship runner-up, was fifth (1:10.8927). Justin Wilson, driving the No. 22 Z-Line Designs car for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing for the first time, slid into third on the chart with a lap of 1:10.7397.

Twenty cars piled on 1,025 laps, with a second day of testing scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. (local time) Feb. 25.

Panther Racing and driver Dan Wheldon decided to forgo this week's IZOD IndyCar Series Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park and instead test at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla., due to the cooler than expected temperatures.

Panther Racing Chief Engineer David Cripps explained the decision to test in Sebring, saying, "The inclement weather that's being predicted for Barber, is not really going to be conducive to what we had planned for our test for São Paolo. Our current setup is based on warmer environments in São Paolo, Long Beach, and St. Pete, and Barber's not going to present that for us. We felt it would be more advantageous to get to Sebring and a warmer climate. Hopefully, Sebring will be more advantageous for our preparation."

Also skipping the test due to the forecast was first-year IZOD IndyCar Series entrant Fazzt Race Team with driver Alex Tagliani.

FAZZT Race Team General Manager Rob Edwards elaborated on the decision saying, "We are in the fortunate position of having had very successful tests at Homestead and Sebring in January. Since those tests, our engineers have continued testing on the seven-post rig, gearbox rig and in the wind tunnel to further develop our race package. Given the inclement weather forecast for Barber over the next few days and after much discussion, we believe the best use of our time is to continue our preparations for Brazil here in Indianapolis."

Danica Patrick participated in the today's luncheon to discuss April's Alabama Indy Grand Prix presented by Legacy Credit Union.

"The thing about Barber Motorsports Park is that every time we've been here there have always been fans out to the track," Patrick said. "I think that's one of the big things that drew us to come here. Our cars are very high-performance and are fun to see out there. To give people that chance to see us is good. It lets us know that we are wanted here.

"It's nice to be able to test at a track that we race at. We're going to work on the car and make it the best it can be."

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