Team Penske stormed to the front in the second session of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ open test at Barber Motorsports Park, with three Penske drivers in the top five spots at the end of the day. Will Power led the way with a lap of 1:07.7518, which he turned as the checkered flag waved on the session. Power’s time pipped Chip Ganassi Racing’s Max Chilton by just under eight thousandths of a second (Chilton’s lap was a 1:07.7591).”It just shows how tight it is between Honda and Chevy now,” Power said of the narrow gap between lap times. “It’s tough, man. We just went through a bunch of stuff to see what it does and I think we got some good answers here. I think we’ve got a good car for here, I feel good about my setup.”
Power’s teammates Josef Newgarden and Juan Pablo Montoya were third and fourth, with Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti breaking into fifth as the session came to an end.
While the first session ran cleanly, the second session was stopped four times. The first red flag came out for simultaneous but separate incidents. Charlie Kimball’s No. 83 Novo Nordisk Honda stopped on course at turn six while Josef Newgarden’s No. 2 Verizon Chevrolet made contact with the barriers in turn one. Both drivers had minimal damage and rejoined the session.
The second and third red flags were for a track inspection, while the fourth and final stoppage was for Tony Kanaan, who made contact in turn 1.
The stoppages combined with the availability of push-to-pass to create a flurry of activity in the final hour, with several drivers taking turns at the top of the speed chart as times dipped into the the 1:07 bracket, with Power’s fastest lap roughly half-a-second faster than Takuma Sato’s quick time from the morning session.
Times from the second session are below.
Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.
The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.
“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.
Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”
Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.
“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.
Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.