Penske news: Montoya tests Phoenix, Power set for Vine chat

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Juan Pablo Montoya. In a Team Penske IndyCar. At Phoenix International Raceway.

This is as close to a stocking stuffer as could be possible for IndyCar fans this time of year, especially considering that the series itself won’t be racing at the flat, challenging 1-mile oval anytime soon.

But Montoya’s testing there today, in what will be his first oval running in an IndyCar since 2000 at Auto Club Speedway at Fontana. The Colombian and teammate Helio Castroneves were scheduled to test at ACS on Monday, but the test was postponed due to high winds.

Montoya did get his first IndyCar running in in late November at Sebring and was immediately within three tenths of his other teammate, Will Power.

Power, meanwhile, will take on a new social media role later today as he’ll be participating in IndyCar’s first Vine chat at 2 p.m. ET this afternoon. Tweet questions using #PowerVine and starting at 2, he’ll be answering. Further details are in the @IndyCar tweet below, and also available @PenskeRacing.

Since winning the 2013 IndyCar season finale, Power did something rather awesome during the month of November. He grew this mustache for a good cause as part of “Movember.”

Power, Newgarden, Dixon fastest in first of 2 IndyCar practices today at Barber Motorsports Park

Photo: IndyCar
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Will Power was fastest in Friday’s first of two IndyCar practice sessions at Barber Motorsports Park.

Power covered the 2.3-mile permanent road course in 1:07.5987 minutes at 122.488 mph in the 45-minute practice session.

Even though he spun off the course during his session, Phoenix winner Josef Newgarden still managed to be second-fastest (121.919 mph at 1:07.9141 minutes), followed by Scott Dixon (121.296 mph/1:082627), Max Chilton (121.251 mph/1:08.2882) and Ed Jones (121.215 mph/1:09.5692).

 

Sixth through 10th were Simon Pagenaud (121.208 mph/1:08.3122), Jordan King (121.113 mph/1:083661), Graham Rahal (121.059 mph/1:08.3964), St. Petersburg winner Sebastien Bourdais (121.029 mph/1:08.4131) and rookie Zach Veach (121.014 mph/1:08.4216).

Here’s the full speed chart:

Incidents:

* Early in the session, Long Beach winner Alexander Rossi ran off the track and into the grass, striking a small sign, but was able to get back on-track. However, Rossi was only able to complete 10 laps, relegating him to 20th-fastest in the 23-car field.

* Moments later, it appeared the rear brakes locked up on Newgarden heading into Turn 5, spinning him into the gravel trap. He was able to get going and returned to the pits for service and was back on-track with less than four minutes remaining in the session.

ALSO OF NOTE:

* The second practice session of the day will begin at 3:50 p.m. ET. A third practice will take part Saturday morning at 10:50 a.m. ET, followed by qualifying beginning at 4:05 p.m. ET. The race, to be televised live Sunday on NBCSN, is slated to start at 3:30 p.m. ET.

* However, weather forecast does not look promising for Sunday’s race. As of 1 p.m. ET today, the forecast calls for 100 percent rain throughout the day.

* Dixon has had an incredible record at Barber Motorsports Park, with seven podium finishes in eight starts there. Except for one thing: he has yet to win a race there. But he does have five runner-up and two other third-place showings on the permanent road course.

Follow @JerryBonkowski