Castroneves leads first IndyCar test session at PIR

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AVONDALE, Ariz. – Helio Castroneves edged ahead of Team Penske teammate Will Power to end fastest in the first three-hour test session of the day at Phoenix International Raceway, the Verizon IndyCar Series Test in the West, a.k.a. “PrixView.”

Castroneves, in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, set a best time of 19.5858 seconds – or 187.850 mph – around the one-mile oval to lead the 21-car field.

It’s an unofficial track record as speeds and times from a test don’t go into the record books. But it was ahead of Arie Luyendyk’s official mark, set in 1996, on the old layout, at 19.608 seconds and a speed of 183.599 mph.

With Castroneves on top, it interrupted the usual IndyCar spring training storyline of teammate Will Power dominating, whether it’s at Sebring, Barber or now Phoenix.

The driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet set a best time of 19.5931 seconds, or 187.780 mph, around the one-mile oval, which was second in the 21-car field.

The first three hours of testing featured five yellow flag periods for just over 40 minutes, but no incidents. The yellow flag periods were only for track inspection and debris.

Basically all runs were single-car runs, and there wasn’t much passing. It appears to be a one-groove track.

Josef Newgarden interrupted the Team Penske party at the top of the pylon, with 186.942 mph his best speed in the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing in third place.

Juan Pablo Montoya was fourth, while Simon Pagenaud, who was the first driver in the 184 mph-range this morning, ended sixth in the session.

Graham Rahal was best Honda in the session at 185.349 mph, or 19.8501 seconds, in the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

Of note, Gabby Chaves was 11th overall and third Honda in his first session with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

Times and speeds are below:

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