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INDYCAR Testing Concludes At Sebring - Dixon On Top


Anne Proffit photo

Anne Proffit photo

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The final open test for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season is complete at Sebring International Raceway, where teams utilized the 1.67-mile short course on the back of the bumpy airport/road circuit.

There were two groups, one for Monday and Tuesday, and a second, larger grouping for Thursday and Friday.

The Honda Grand Prix of St Petersburg held its media day on the Wednesday between the two sessions in anticipation of the March 23-25 race weekend, start of the season.

As they did on Thursday, Target Chip Ganassi's Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti led all comers on Friday in their Dallara DW12/Honda/Firestone machines. Dixon was quickest on his final, 52nd lap of the 11-corner circuit, continuing as the sole driver under 52 seconds with his lap of 51.7938 for 116.076 mph.

Dixon didn't get out as early as he wanted due some unnamed issues; his team made "a big suspension change at lunch time and I actually didn't like all of that stuff, but we came out around 3PM and didn't have time to go back on those things, so we stuck with it. We made steering changes and damper changes and seem to find a bit of a compromise for what we had," he said.

Franchitti was second again at 115.580, accomplished on his 42nd of 54 total laps. "We're trying to learn these new cars," the reigning champion said. "We need to know what might break on them, where the weak spots are, how to make them go fast. Honda is learning very quickly too, so we're just trying to get through all of this stuff just now," he explained.

F1 expatriate Rubens Barrichello continued to familiarize himself with the Indy cars and was best of the Chevy-powered machines, third once more on Friday at 115.119 mph for KV Racing Technology, while Brit Mike Conway's AJ Foyt Racing Honda continued to shadow the Brazilian, getting the same speed but lapping 0.001 slower than Barrichello!

"We were able to run a good amount of laps again today and we also practiced pit stops, which will serve me well," Barrichello said. "I was able to see how the car reacts coming in on warm tires and leaving on cold tires and seeing where to position the car, all things that are very different to what I'm used to."

Graham Rahal was fifth for the Ganassi Racing Honda team, Takuma Sato took sixth for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (Honda), while JR Hildebrand had the seventh best lap for Panther Racing (Chevy). Rookie Josef Newgarden, in only his second day driving the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Chevrolet Indy car was eighth, followed by Charlie Kimball (Honda/Ganassi) and EJ Viso's KV Racing Technology Chevy (he hit the wall again today), rounding out the top ten.

The balance of the 15-car field today included Oriol Servia, best of the Lotus drivers in 11th for Lotus-DRR, Tony Kanaan for KVRT/Chevy, Alex Tagliani's Bryan Herta Autosport/Lotus, Ed Carpenter's Chevy and Katherine Legge in the Dragon/Lotus.

Friday's total laps were 688, with Hildebrand running the longest (66 laps) and Kimball running the fewest, 28 laps. Over the course of the four testing days, the Indy cars completed 4107 laps, with Servia spending the most time on-circuit and running a total of 212 laps in the second grouping.

The total combined testing scores found Dixon and Franchitti remaining the top two, while Helio Castroneves, fastest in the first grouping took third. Barrichello, Will Power, Hildebrand, Ryan Briscoe, Conway, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Sato comprised the top 10..
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