Power Paces Baltimore Opener
September 2, 2011 | 7:39 P.M. EST
Will Power's Verizon Dallara-Honda posted the fastest lap Friday on the revised street course in Baltimore. (Photo: Getty Images)
IZOD IndyCar Series drivers took a four-hour delay in Friday's opening practice for the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix in stride as crews addressed potential safety issues relating to fencing lining the 2-mile, 12-turn circuit.
"Obviously, the fans and drivers are disappointed with the delays, but there's always some growing pains with a first event," Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing driver Graham Rahal said.
One 75-minute session (condensed from two scheduled practices totaling 2 hours, 15 minutes) was held, with Verizon Team Penske's Will Power posting the best lap time of 1 minute, 22.1739 seconds. IZOD IndyCar Series championship points leader Dario Franchitti of Target Chip Ganassi Racing was second (1:22.2162) was second and Team Penske's Helio Castroneves (1:22.2846) was third of the 28 entries.
"I like the layout of the circuit. It's very cool and very challenging," Castroneves said. "Some of the surface is so smooth and other parts are pretty rough, but every street course has it's challenges, especially the first year. We certainly have a few things to work on with the No. 3 car, but we're going in a good direction."
A 60-minute practice session is scheduled for Saturday preceding the three rounds of qualifications.
Championship points leader Josef Newgarden was quickest in the lone Firestone Indy Lights session (1 minute, 27.5145 seconds) in the No. 11 Copart/Score Big/Robo-Pong car to lead four Sam Schmidt Motorsports drivers at the top of the time sheet. Conor Daly was second (1:28.0619), followed by Victor Carbone and Esteban Guerrieri.
"I think everyone did a great job of prepping for the track and going through the simulations before getting here, so it seems that we at least have a strong starting package for us as a base for the race this weekend," Newgarden said of the Sam Schmidt Motorsports contingent. "We really just need to be focusing on progressing that as time allows us to this weekend. I'm looking forward to the challenges of this place. It's bumpy in some spots and smooth in others, so it's going to be a fun circuit to race on for sure and will provide interesting challenges for everyone."