SEBRING, FL (March 6, 2012) – Gearing up for what looks to be an interesting 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season, Team Penske swept the top three positions Tuesday during its final day of spring testing at Sebring International Raceway.
The three Penske Dallara/Chevrolets wound up separated by just 0.0659 seconds around Sebring’s 11-turn, 1.67-mile short course, as Chevy continued to impress in the early stages of testing for the IZOD IndyCar Series’ new chassis/engine combination. A total of 10 drivers tested over the two days with the balance of the IndyCar field set to test at Sebring later this week.
Helio Castroneves recorded a lap of 52.1413 seconds in the No. 3 Shell/Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet/Dallara, clocking in almost half a second faster than the best lap posted in Monday testing. But it was Team Penske’s sweep of the first three positions in its final run that was as telling as the fastest lap.
“Overall it was a good day for the Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet. Chevy did an incredible job,” said Castroneves, who posted the second-fastest lap on Monday behind Chevy driver Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport. “We are still developing the car. Still making little bits here and there. But, for Spring Training, I thought all of the Chevys are in good shape. Overall Team Penske is in good shape. We have to just keep pushing each other. Hopefully we can get what we want for the first race of the season.”
One day after break in the fuel line caused a fire on the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, Will Power’s lap of 52.2059 was second-fastest on Tuesday and just 0.0013 faster than teammate Ryan Briscoe’s best effort in the No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevy/Dallara.
“We have just had constant improvement throughout all the testing,” said Power, who has led the IZOD IndyCar Series in wins in each of the last two seasons. “Every time we have a problem, that is one problem that we aren’t going to have during the season. It is good to find the limits here and just understanding and studying what happened. I think we are in good shape. I really do.”
Power also gave a nod to his crew for fixing the car overnight and in the morning to get him back on the test track. “The Verizon guys did a great job to get that engine in during the morning to get it to run before lunch for a shakedown. I got to run all afternoon. Then we had another problem right there at the end, but still got a lot of running today.”
All three Team Penske drivers said they felt comfortable in the new Dallara DW12 chassis and Chevrolet turbo, noting earlier testing and the numbers that have emerged from the first two days of the week-long open test.
“It was a very productive couple of days again,” said Briscoe. “The more miles we get on these Chevys, the better. I feel like we’re ready to go racing in St. Pete. The IZOD car is feeling strong. Working with the engine guys on the driveability side as well. I think we made a lot of gains there. I’m excited.”
The Team Penske trio will participate in the IndyCar Series media day at St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday before they return to the testing trail next week at Barber Motorsports Park in a final tune-up before the season opener.
The IZOD IndyCar Series season will begin on March 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg. Live coverage of the race will begin at 12:30 p.m. on ABC.
By Merrill Cain, Director of Communications, Penske Racing and Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix