Allmendinger Gets Feet Wet At Barber
“It’s so funny…on the (NASCAR) Cup side of it; you have a set day of it. Friday you work on qualifying. Saturday you work on race set-up. And, Sunday you go race. Here obviously you are working on speed, but there isn’t a lot of time to work on race set-up. So I think it is just the process of going through the weekend; figuring out how the weekend goes and how we use our tires; what we are working on. So far, I felt like the first day was good. I think there is still a lot out there in me. The cars are going to be fast.”
Allmendinger’s Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves was the fastest of the day at 1:08.5540 (120.781 mph) over 27 laps.
“I think it’s better to be lucky than good,” Castroneves said, referring to his fast time came because of the timing of a caution period. “Obviously with the yellow in the end a lot of guys probably put tires, but the car felt pretty good. The AAA team felt really strong, the morning unfortunately it was a little bit difficult because seeing that the track has lots of grip and when you have an extra set of tires certainly it helps a little bit. In the end of the day, with AJ and Will we’ve been actually doing a lot of different stuff out there and it seems to be working.”
Honda driver Alex Tagliani was second quick at 1:08.6288 (120.649 mph) for 27 laps while Honda rookie Tristan Vautier was an impressive third-quick at 1:08.6720 (120.573 mph) for Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports.
“It was disappointing at the end of the first practice to cause a red because of a mistake, but no, I’m very happy with the car that the team has given me today,” Vautier said. “I think that I still have some room to keep improving, and we need to carry the momentum from today into tomorrow. It’s a lot of fun out here, there’s a lot of grip and the track was very fast. You can really enjoy the grip that those tires produce; especially on fast corners you can really feel what the cars are capable of.”
Allmendinger, a former Champ Car Series star who also competes in selected NASCAR Sprint Cup race, soaked up information like a sponge on Friday. He had dinner with four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears in the team’s paddock hospitality area on Friday night asking him questions about adapting to these types of cars and what to expect on the race course as well as talking about Mears’ outstanding accomplishments as an Indy 500 champion.
“That is the good thing about the Penske organization, especially around this place,” Allmendinger said. “I know the car is going to be fast. I know the setup is going to be fairly close. It is just about me trying to go out there and figure it out, figure out what I need in the race car. How I get the speed out of it. I still left a lot out there on that lap that I did. I think Saturday the biggest and toughest thing for me is that qualifying lap. Putting those reds (tires) on for the first time, and not having had any practice on them, and just have to go get that lap. It was a solid day so far.”