On a quest to return to Victory Lane, Will Power led the opening practice session this morning for the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle.
Power, who is the three-time defending champion at Sao Paulo, posted a quick lap of 1 minute, 21.8517 seconds in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. He was one of two drivers to break the 1:22 mark in the session, with the other being Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing’s Josef Newgarden (1 minute, 21.8976 seconds) in his No. 67 Honda.
The session ended with Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports driver Simon Pagenaud slamming the wall near Turn 2 of the 2.5-mile street circuit, causing damage to the left side of his No. 77 Honda. NBC Sports Network’s Kevin Lee has tweeted from Brazil that the Frenchman is OK after the incident.
Sebastien Bourdais was third-fastest for Dragon Racing (1 minute, 22.0495 seconds), followed by Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dario Franchitti in fourth (1 minute, 22.0543 seconds) and Panther Racing’s JR Hildebrand in fifth (1 minute, 22.1400 seconds). Tony Kanaan led the Brazilian contingent with the sixth-fastest time this morning for KV Racing Technology (1 minute, 22.1496 seconds).
Kanaan has torn ligaments in his right hand thanks to an incident two weeks ago at Long Beach, but has been cleared to race by IndyCar medical director Dr. Michael Olinger and is ready to make his 200th career start in the IZOD IndyCar Series this weekend in front of his countrymen.
Pagenaud, Long Beach winner Takuma Sato, Justin Wilson and points leader Helio Castroneves — a native of Sao Paulo — completed the Top 10.
The IndyCars will have another practice later this morning at 11:05 a.m. ET, followed by qualifying at 1:35 p.m. ET (NBC Sports Network will broadcast that session Sunday morning at 1 a.m. ET).