IndyCar: Montoya upbeat after solid Friday at Barber

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Juan Pablo Montoya had his best Friday yet upon his return to the Verizon IndyCar Series, ending eighth on the combined timesheets from the two 45-minute practice sessions at Barber Motorsports Park.

Montoya, who’s traded his usual red and white Verizon livery for a blue and white PPG one adorning his No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet, comes into the weekend with extended track testing under his belt over the winter.

The Colombian was just 0.1649 off teammate Will Power and 0.1301 off fellow teammate Helio Castroneves. Thing was Power was fourth and Castroneves sixth; such is the tight nature of the entire field. He was 0.3559 off overall leader Ryan Hunter-Reay.

“The PPG Chevy was really good in the first session. I was able to push it a little harder than I did at Long Beach and it looked like it we were making big gains,” Montoya said.

But like seven other drivers, Montoya failed to improve in the hotter afternoon session. He was fifth in the morning but just 17th later on Friday.

“For some reason the speed fell off in the afternoon. Not sure why that was but we’ll figure it out before qualifying tomorrow. Qualifying continues to be very important for us and tomorrow will be no different.”

Montoya has starts of 18th and 16th in two races this year. He seeks his first top-12 effort tomorrow and potentially his first Firestone Fast Six appearance if he continues to advance.

Newgarden fastest as Castroneves returns in weather-shortened Barber test

Photo: IndyCar
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The Verizon IndyCar Series took to Barber Motorsports Park on Tuesday for an open test, with 24 entries tackling the 2.38-mile road course.

Weather intervened in the afternoon, preventing nearly the entire field from going out, but the weather held off during the morning enough for one session to be run in its entirety.

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden led the way, with a quick lap of 1:07.979, ahead of Team Penske teammates Will Power and Helio Castroneves. For Castroneves, this marked his first IndyCar outing of 2018.

Helio Castroneves was back in an IndyCar on Tuesday at Barber Motorsports Park. Photo: IndyCar

Sporting the Pennzoil “yellow submarine” paint scheme, Castroneves turned 41 laps around Barber in the morning session, with a quick lap of 1:08.315. He was also the only driver to venture out on track in the afternoon, completing eight laps.

The Dale Coyne Racing duo of Sebastien Bourdais and Zachary Claman De Melo completed the top five.

Results are below.