Will Power picked up right where he left off by setting the top time during this morning’s first practice session for the IZOD IndyCar Series on the Streets of St. Petersburg. Will won the season opener on the new street circuit in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and this morning continued to display his mastery of the art of street racing. On Trackside With Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee, Mr. Cavin predicted that Will Power was so good on the street courses that he would sweep the season. Its still very early in the season to tell for sure, but he’s certainly off to a good start.
The other top performers in this morning’s session were primarily from our list of usual suspects. Dario Franchitti was second quickest followed closely by Will’s fellow Team Penkse teammates Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves. The big surprise of the morning was the lap time put in late in the session by Newman-Haas-Lanigan Racing driver, Hideki Mutoh. His pace was good enough for fifth quickest! This is a good sign of progress for NHL and Mutoh. Rounding out the top ten were Tony Kannan, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Justin Wilson, and Takuma Sato. Takuma was sporting the green and yellow Lotus colours for the first time this morning, and the dark green contrasted well with the azure haze of tire smoke as he routinely locked the brakes going into Turn 1.
This morning also was the first time we’ve seen Graham Rahal in a car this season. After the spring open test at Barber Motorsports Park, Sarah Fisher Racing signed Rahal for the first two domestic races of the season, this weekend’s event at St. Petersburg, and the next race at Barber. Graham spent most of the session in the top ten, but quick times by Team Penske pushed him back to eleventh quickest. During this afternoon’s session, I expect him to be back in the top ten. He’s a good street course driver, and this is a track that he’s routinely performed well winning in his first race, and setting the pole in last year’s race.
Later this afternoon, we will recap Practice Session #2 and take a look forward to Qualifying on Saturday.