OF SURFERS PARADISE
Will Power made a strong statement that he will be a contender to win in his home country by leading both Oct. 24 practice sessions for the Nikon Indy 300 on the streets of Surfers Paradise.
The Team Australia driver was quickest overall with a best lap of 1 minute, 34.8084 seconds (106.130 mph) on the 2.795-mile, 12-turn circuit. Team Penske's Helio Castroneves was second quick (1:36.1609; 104.637 mph) and Dario Franchitti, making his debut in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, was third (1:36.1712; 104.626).
Power's KV Racing Technology teammate, Oriol Servia (1:36.4394; 104.335), was fourth quick and Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing teammates Graham Rahal (1:36.4963; 104.273) and Justin Wilson (1:36.5127; 104.256) were in the top six. Reigning IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon (1:36.5812; 104.182) was seventh on the chart.
Rahal Letterman Racing's Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2003 race winner, was eighth (1:36.8863; 103.854) and Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe was ninth (1:37.5183; 103.181). Tony Kanaan led the four-car Andretti Green Racing express in 10th (1:37.5488; 103.148).
WILL POWER (No. 8 Aussie Vineyards-Team Australia, Fastest of the day): "It was a very good day for the No. 8 KV Racing Technology - Team Australia car. It’s still early and qualifying isn’t until tomorrow. That and Sunday are all that matter to me. I am glad we are quick, but we still need to improve the car a bit tonight. This is a very competitive field and we will have to be faster tomorrow.”
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, third-fastest of the day): “I wasn’t sure how we were going to do. I’ve been out of the car for a year, driving stock cars and others. I have to thank the guys for giving me a good car. I haven’t been here for five or six years, and I was surprised how quickly it came back to me. First lap out it felt like I haven’t been away. I was really happy with our performance and we’ll keep pushing tomorrow.”
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 5 Aussie Vineyards-Team Australia, fourth-fastest of the day): “It seems like the #5 KV Racing Technology – Team Australia car is good shape. Will (teammate Will Power) showed the speed that the car has, which is very good. I hurt my chances by crashing in the first practice, so am a little behind on the laps. But, the crew did a great job getting the car back together and I really want to thank them. Also, I know, and really like, this track, so I am confident we are going to get back to the top.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 06 Hole in the Wall Camps Dallara/Honda/ Firestone, fifth-fastest of the day): “I think there is a little more in the car but overall the day went as well as I could have imagined it going. Of course it would be nice to be first but it kind of seems like (Will) Power is in a league of his own right now but I think that we are definitely pretty close. Our car is pretty good and with a little bit of fine tuning it should get us to where we need to be to challenge for the pole and everything else. It’s definitely not far off and the nice thing is knowing that we are so close. Before the last session we were sitting in the trailer comparing Indy car data with Champ Car data just to look at racing lines. It is different driving here in the Indy car. It feels different and a little harder over the curbing. We made a lot of strides today just making it better over the curbing and that’s what we needed.”
The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with a non-points paying race Oct. 26 at Surfers Paradise, Australia. The Nikon Indy 300 will be telecast live at 10:30 p.m. (EDT) Oct. 25 by ESPN Classic and will re-air at 11 p.m. Oct. 26 on ESPN2. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and indycar.com. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season has concluded.