March 09, 2012 | By Marshall Pruett - SPEED
Thursday Sebring Spring Training Report
Courtesy of Speed.com
Scott Dixon followed up his fast time of 51.79-seconds from Thursday morning with a 51.96 in the afternoon to lead the 16 cars in attendance, which saw very little running until the last 90 minutes of the day.
"Things went OK this afternoon," Dixon told SPEED.com. "There was nothing remarkable, really. We just worked on our program, worked through a lot of things and we'll do more of that tomorrow. It was a good day."
After an abbreviated morning session, Dixon's Target teammate Dario Franchitti logged 32 laps in the afternoon under heavy cloud cover, running second to Dixon with a lap of 52.14 seconds.
KV Racing's Rubens Barrichello followed the two Honda-powered cars in his Chevrolet-engined Dallara, posting a 52.222-second lap. Still getting acclimated to the car, Barrichello ran an impressive 59 laps in the afternoon, slightly edging A.J. Foyt Racing's Mike Conway who turned a 52.223-second lap.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan's Takuma Sato was fifth with a 52.41, Ganassi's Graham Rahal was sixth with a 52.49, KV's E.J. Viso was seventh with a best of 52.63 and Panther Racing's JR Hildebrand secured eighth with a lap of 52.68 seconds.
Ganassi's Charlie Kimball followed behind his fellow IndyCar sophomore with a 52.93-second lap, and Tony Kanaan, who struggled in the morning, didn't fare much better in the afternoon, running 10th with a 53.20.
Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing's rookie driver Josef Newgarden impressed on his first day in the team's Dallara DW12-Honda, running just .0001 behind Kanaan's 53.2012 with a 53.2013.
Oriol Servia led the Lotus teams in 12th with a 53.34-second lap in his Lotus DRR entry, Ana Beatriz went 12th in James Hinchcliffe's Andretti Autosport car with a 54.14 and, after a one-year layoff, Katherine Legge looked right at home in Dragon Racing's Lotus-powered Dallara DW12, turning 66 trouble-free laps with a best of 54.59 seconds.
"I have to thank the entire Dragon Racing team immensely," Legge told SPEED.com. "They've all gotten no sleep since Wednesday and put together this car overnight--it ran perfectly which means a lot to this program. It took me about 40 laps to shake the rust off, but once I did, I wasn't far off of Oriol's time when we were on similar [aged] tires. The car felt good, the team was working well together and I'm pretty pleased with how today went."
Sebastien Bourdais confirmed he will start Friday's morning session in the Dragon car, with Legge taking over to finish out the day.
Behind Legge, Ed Carpenter's team resolved the misfire that plagued his car before lunch and got his first chance to try the Chevrolet-powered machine at speed, posting a 54.64-second lap.
The 16th and final time of the afternoon went to Bryan Herta Autosport's Alex Tagliani. Tagliani's Lotus engine suffered a throttle-related issue after turning only one lap, which required a significant amount of work to resolve with the drive-by-wire system.
Herta told SPEED.com the issue has been fixed and Tagliani will be back out to start the 9 a.m. ET session tomorrow.
Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon shot to the top of the charts on only his sixth lap during the Thursday morning session, posting a 51.79-second tour of the 10-turn, 1.7-mile Sebring facility in his Honda-powered Dallara DW12.
"It felt good right out of the box," the Kiwi told SPEED.com. "I looked down at my dash and though there was an error, honestly, because it came pretty easy. It was a good first morning for the Target team, but with the heat coming up, I think the track's gonna get greasy this afternoon."
The fastest lap from the Monday-Tuesday test went to Team Penske's Helio Castroneves at a 52.14.
Mike Conway, who was quick in recent testing at Sebring, trailed Dixon by almost a second, turning a 52.61-second lap. Ganassi's Graham Rahal was close behind with a 52.67, and Rahal Letterman Lanigan's Takuma Sato ran fourth with a 52.68, making it a Honda 1-2-3-4.
Panther Racing's JR Hildebrand was the fastest amongst the Chevrolet teams present, turning a 52.874 in fifth, and KV Racing's Rubens Barrichello, whose engine went off song just as the session concluded, ran sixth with a 52.879, only .004 behind the young American.
Barrichello needed just seven laps to post his best time, and completed only 16 laps after getting a late start to the session.
Ganassi's Charlie Kimball was the first in the 53-second range, posting a 53.31 as he dealt with brakes that felt like they were grabbing too much. KV's EJ Viso had the only off during the morning, damaging the nose on his car and halting the session as corner marshals put the tire barriers back in place. Viso returned with a new, unpainted nose to complete the session. His best lap was a 53.49.
Reigning IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti had a slow morning, turning only five laps with a best of 53.53, which was good enough for ninth.
Franchitti, a right-foot braker, had been waiting for Dallara to produce a pedal assembly to allow right-foot braking. That kit arrived while he was in St. Petersburg doing series media duties on Wednesday, meaning the Ganassi team had to burn valuable time Thursday morning fitting the Scot to the car and to set the pedals to his liking. Once he got out, an undisclosed issue halted his session early, but the team is expected to be out in the afternoon.
A somewhat frustrated Tony Kanaan ran 10th with a 53.62-second lap in his KV Racing car, and Oriol Servia was the first of the Lotus runners in his Dreyer & Reinbold car, posting a 54.09 for 11th-fastest.
Alex Tagliani turned the first laps for Bryan Herta Autosport's new Lotus-powered car, setting a best of 54.41, Ana Beatriz, driving James Hinchcliffe's Andretti Autosport as part of a one-day test, turned a 54.46 and Ed Carpenter, making his team's series debut, fought a misfire all morning, turning an unrepresentative 58.08 in his Chevrolet-powered car.
Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing's Josef Newgarden also turned laps in his Honda-powered car, but his timing transponder was not functioning properly and did not generate lap times.
Good news came from the Dragon Racing camp, as driver Katherine Legge was getting suited with the expectation of turning her first laps in their Lotus-powered car just after lunch.