IndyCar: St. Pete practice two scrubbed due to rain, and other notes

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ST. PETERSBURG – The second practice session for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg was completed earlier Friday afternoon with exactly zero laps completed, due to a wet track. Free practice one times were very solid earlier in the day.

Some other notes from day one at St. Petersburg include…

  • Juan Pablo Montoya, who had led first practice until teammate Will Power knocked him off, felt much more comfortable on this Friday compared to last year. “Last year was a tough year for us at the beginning. We knew that. Normally I’m really good at remembering everything about every track and last year I think this was such a blur for me.”
  • CFH Racing’s new pairing of Josef Newgarden and Luca Filippi visited the media center for their first availability together as teammates. Filippi, who has eight prior IndyCar starts but is making his first St. Pete driving appearance this weekend, said it only takes him roughly 7 to 8 laps when closing on the limit, and then 35 laps on another set. “If it takes longer, then you just need to change jobs!” Filippi joked, to much laughter.
  • Chip Ganassi Racing Teams rookie Sage Karam estimated he was only operating at “90 percent” today as he recovers from his hand injury, and the No. 8 GE LED Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet team is, like many teams, low on spare parts.
  • Fellow rookie Gabby Chaves, of the single-car Bryan Herta Autosport operation, estimated that he and his team went down the wrong road on setup. But as they were bullish on their recent NOLA test, he feels confident things can improve.
  • The other big news of the day was a collaborative partnership announced between SRO and Pirelli World Challenge, where SRO’s Blancpain GT Series will come to Circuit of the Americas next March after some PWC teams go to the Baku World Challenge to end 2015.
  • Carlin Racing impressed with a 1-2 finish in the first Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires session of the year, with Ed Jones leading Max Chilton.