Indy – Franchitti Tops Opening Practice At Infineon Raceway

August 27, 2011


IZOD IndyCar Series championship points leader Dario Franchitti was quickest of the session (1:19.4269) in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car as teams began preparations for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma.

Will Power, who trails Franchitti by 47 points in the standings, was second (1:19.5633) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske entry. Teammate Helio Castroneves (1:19.6638) was third.

Scott Dixon, driving the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, was fourth (1:20.0421). Giorgio Pantano, who is filling in for the injured Justin Wilson i nthe No. 22 TranSystems/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing car, was fifth (1:20.1292) and Sebastien Bourdais (1:20.2283) was sixth in the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America car for Dale Coyne Racing.

Teammate James Jakes, Ana Beatriz, Oriol Servia and E.J. Viso also were in the top 10.

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, fastest of the day): “The Target car was different today than the test here last week. When we left the test, I had a lot of thoughts on what we needed to improve and where it was bad. I talked with my engineer a lot heading into this weekend just to make sure they understood what was feeling bad for me. He has done a great job getting the changes made and I felt good in the car out there. There is still room to improve, but I am happy with the performance today. It feels like there is some more grip compared to the test here, and I hope that the track just continued to get better as the weekend progresses.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske, second fastest): “We are very close to getting the car where we need it. It just comes down to sorting out the fine details. The team will try to think about the changes we can make tonight and see where we can go tomorrow. We tested here last week and it is for sure a driver’s track. It is all about getting the different sectors to come together. It can be tough to get the balance just right. My weekend here last year was perfect and those are pretty hard to come by, but Verizon Team Penske is definitely aiming for that.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Guidepoint Systems Team Penske, third fastest): “The Guidepoint Systems car was really good today – we had a great balance on the car right off of the truck. Certainly we still have some work to do, but this is good start to the weekend. Now we just have to do our best to keep the momentum moving forward towards a good qualifying result tomorrow and Sunday in the race.”

GIORGIO PANTANO (No. 22 TranSystems/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, fifth fastest): “We are OK, but I’m sure there’s a lot we can do. A lot we can gain from what we did today. We just need to check the data and work with the engineers to see where we can find more overall grip. I’m sure tomorrow we will be closer to where we want to be.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America): “I don’t think anyone is happy here. The grip is very low, so the fun we get behind the wheel is not very high, but in terms of relative pace, it seems to be all right. It’s just not much fun out there. A normal lap time here is a 77-something, and for some reason it’s like two or three seconds off. That makes for a pretty bad feeling behind the wheel, but I think we understood  quite a few things about the test and it’s definitely going in the right direction. We’ll see how it goes. It’s a very fine line between what you want to do around the track as you get a bit of everything – understeer, oversteer and that’s what happens on a low grip track. The Boy Scout team did a great job, but we still have a lot of work to do.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog FlexPen): “It was a really good start to the weekend for the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team. I think we have a little more lap time in it that we’ll be able to get tomorrow and the rest of the weekend. The No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog FlexPen car unloaded fast and we have a good direction. We made a few changes that worked and a few that didn’t. I think we’ll be in good shape for practice and qualifying tomorrow.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central): “We just have to work on it. We didn’t get a good first run which seems to be critical; the new tires are a really, really big deal. Then after that the No. 38 Service Central car was incredibly loose -it was a handful. The Service Central team is going to work on it tonight; we’re not far out but we have a lot of work to do, so we’ll continue to work hard before qualifying tomorrow.”

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Penske Truck Rental): “We feel good about the laps we did today in the Penske Truck Rental car, though the speed doesn’t really show it. We learned a few things in practice and where we need to go. Now we’ll focus on getting into it more tomorrow to keep improving.”

ORIOL SERVIA (No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing): “The Telemundo car was very similar to how it was last week at the test here. It was a typical first session; the track was a little dirty but the car felt pretty similar. I think we are a little better than the time sheets show though. I’m sure everyone will say they couldn’t put it (lap time) together but I literally couldn’t. I’m not totally unhappy with today and I don’t think we need to change the car. I think we will be in good shape.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing): “This is a track I have always enjoyed in everything I have driven here. It was cool to get a couple of laps in the big car here but the session was a little more eventful than we would have liked given that its race weekend. We had a couple of little things that if I could describe to you I would. Its not that I’m hiding anything; we just really don’t know what was going on with the car. We’re going to have a good look at it and talk to Oriol a little bit more and see what he felt in the car but I have a feeling we’re going to have some work to do tonight and, hopefully, a smoother day tomorrow.”

MIKE CONWAY (No. 27 @FollowAndretti): “We improved the car at the end of the session. We made a couple of changes that seemed to help the handling. But we still need to find some time. We can’t seem to get the grip that we need right now. We’ll look over our setups tonight and be ready for the morning practice on Saturday.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 27 Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda): “It was a pretty challenging first day for us. We’ll have to change a lot of the settings for Saturday. It was different from last week’s test. We felt the car was okay last week. That wasn’t the case today. Just overall lack of grip in the Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop car. But I think we can turn it around for Saturday.”

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy): “It was a frustrating day for the GoDaddy team. We will go over all of our data tonight and look for an improved setup on Saturday. I didn’t test here last week due to my NASCAR race in Montreal. But I have finished in the top-ten here several times. So I think we can get the proper setup for practice and qualifying.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team All Natural Snapple): “The conditions weren’t as good as we thought they would be today. The track just seemed slippery and we couldn’t get the grip we would have liked. I know that was the case for all four of our cars today. This place is always tricky with the surface. We’ll work hard overnight to get the improvements that we need. We’ll get everyone together and study the problems. I think we’ll be better on Saturday.”

E.J. VISO (No. 59 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus): “It was exciting being back out on track, but we have a lot of work to do with the car. We are lacking a huge amount of grip. I think all three KVRT – Lotus drivers agree on that. So we are going to have to work to fix that problem. Some of the testing we did last week has been helpful, but we need to work some more to make the car faster. This is one of those races where it is important to qualify well and the setup needs to be just right in order to have a good race.

TONY KANAAN (No. 82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus): “I did not test here last week so this was my first time on track since last year and I am working with a new engineer this weekend, so today about getting to know each other. I think it is obvious we have a lot of work to do with the car before tomorrow’s qualifying. Fortunately, we have a lot of data to review and another practice tomorrow morning before qualifying.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus): “The problem we had at the test last week was getting the balance right and even though the car is better, we still have that problem. The car is just lacking grip. We collected some data today and checked some things we saw at the test, which worked out how we expected, so that was good. However, we need to find more speed.”

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