Castroneves Sets Barber Pace
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Helio Castroneves continued Team Penske’s ownership of Barber Motorsports Park.
The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner posted a best lap of 1 minute, 8.5540 seconds in the Chevrolet-powered No. 3 AAA Insurance Team Penske car as IZOD IndyCar Series teams began preparations for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.
All 26 drivers in the afternoon session April 5 at Barber Motorsports Park recorded laps that bested Castroneves’ 2012 pole time of 1:10.4768 on the 2.38-mile, 17-turn road course. Twenty-three were below Will Power’s course record of 1:09.8529 set in the first round of qualifying last April.
Alex Tagliani, who scored his 100th career top-10 finish in the season opener March 24 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., was second to lead the Honda brigade with a best lap of 1:08.6288 in the No. 98 Barracuda Racing car for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian.
Tristan Vautier, who in the first practice was the first rookie to pace a session since Simon Pagenaud at Baltimore last September, was third-quick (1:08.6720) in the No. 55 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry. Pagenaud, the fifth-place finisher last year at Barber, was just behind (1:08.7627) in the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP entry.
Two-time defending race winner Will Power was fifth overall (1:08.8066) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, while teammate A.J. Allmendinger was eighth (1:08.9119). Allmendinger, who participated in the Open Test at Barber in mid-March, is making his IZOD IndyCar Series debut.
Also on April 5, Carlos Munoz was quickest in both practice sessions for the Legacy Indy Lights 100.
The 21-year-old Colombian recorded a best lap of 1 minute, 14.3433 seconds in the afternoon session in the No. 26 Dialy-Ser car for Andretti Autosport.
Andretti Autosport teammate Zach Veach was third quick (1:14.9433) in the No. 12 K12 car, just behind Sage Karam (1:14.7432) in the No. 8 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian entry.
Juan Pablo Garcia posted the fourth-best lap (1:15.3927) in the No. 2 TMR-International-Euclid Chemical car. Victor Carbone, making his 2012 debut this weekend, was fifth quick on the day in the No. 22 TMR-Nevoni-Xtreme Drilling & Coil car.