Takuma Sato, Honda star on 1st day of Verizon IndyCar Series practice at St. Petersburg: Sato, Graham Rahal lead 22-vehicle area in practice for season-opening race

Published on March 28, 2014

Takuma Sato topped the time chart in the second practice session to lead the Friday practice of preparations for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Sato recorded a greatest lap of one minute, 2.5615 seconds. Driving the Honda-powered No. 14 ABC Supply auto, right after he was third in the morning session on the one.8-mile, 14-flip circuit.

“I am very thrilled to back in St. Petersburg and excited to be on track,” mentioned Sato, who has a best finish of fifth in 4 prior races. “The conditions had been not quite representative as normal for St. Petersburg, but nevertheless the automobile worked actually well and we made very good progress in the course of this session. Let’;s hope this continues and we will function on pace for (qualifying).”

Sebastien Bourdais holds the track record of one:00.928 in qualifying for the 2003 race sanctioned by CART.

Graham Rahal in the No. 15 National Guard vehicle for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing was second quickest (1:02.6122), and Will Electrical power, who has earned the pole in each of the previous 4 years, was third in the No. twelve Verizon Staff Penske vehicle (1:02.6443). Teammate Helio Castroneves, a 3-time winner of the race, was 4th and Simon Pagenaud was fifth in the No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports vehicle.

5 Hondas and an equal number of Chevrolet-powered automobiles occupied the top 8. The leading 19 automobiles were separated by significantly less than a second.

Rahal, whose victory at St. Petersburg in ’;08 produced him the youngest winner in Indy vehicle background, won the pole the following March.

“General, for our initial day out I consider it was a fantastic day,” stated Rahal. “For us to be that aggressive proper off the bat feels great. I have to say most of all I am proud of these Nationwide Guard guys due to the fact it was only 48, possibly 72 hrs in the past that we had a massive trailer fire and our guys did an extraordinary work obtaining every little thing switched back above in Indy. It was a rush, it was completely a rush to get down here.”

The crew was to have the day off, but everybody reported to the Brownsburg, Ind., headquarters by 6 a.m. to provide assistance.

“I am proud of them and as Dad said final evening to them ‘through adversity comes a team’; and I feel we have a fantastic group of people and I consider that is going to display this yr,” extra Rahal, referring to crew co-owner Bobby Rahal.

In the initial session of the season, 2013 race winner James Hinchcliffe was quickest of the 22 drivers at 1:02.9326.

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Friday Practice

Circuit: Bayfront Park (1.7-mile temporary street circuit), St. Petersburg, Fla.

2012 Winner: James Hinchcliffe (Andretti Autosport), 83.539 mph race average

Best-15 Benefits:

Pos, Driver, Team, Engine – Chassis, Greatest Time

1. Takuma Sato, A.J. Foyt Racing, Honda Dallara, one:02.5615, 103.578 mph avg.

2. Graham Raha,l Rahal Letterman Lanigan, Honda Dallara, 1:02.6122, +.0507 sec

3. Will Power, Group Penske, Chevrolet Dallara, 1:02.6443

4. Helio Castroneves, Team Penske, Chevrolet Dallara, one:02.8178

5. Simon Pagenaud, Schmidt Peterson Hamilton, Honda Dallara, 1:02.9129

6. James Hinchcliffe, Andretti Autosport, Honda Dallara, 1:02.9326

6. Justin Wilson, Dale Coyne Racing, Honda Dallara, one:02.9385

8. Ryan Briscoe, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Dallara 1:03.0142

9. Scott Dixon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Dallara one:03.0510

8. Sebastien Bourdais, KV, Chevrolet Dallara, one:03.0671

eleven. Jack Hawksworth-R, Bryan Herta Autosport, Honda Dallara, one:03.0793

12. Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport, Honda Dallara, 1:03.1769

13. Carlos Munoz-R, Andretti Autosport, Honda Dallara one:03.1814

14. Mikhail Aleshin-R, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, Honda Dallara one:03.2045

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