LEEDS, Ala. – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver James Jakes doesn’t know what lap time will secure the Verizon P1 Award for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 6, but the Englishman knows “it will be competitive.”
The track record could be shattered this weekend if the mid-March Open Test on the 2.38-mile, 17-turn Barber Motorsports Park road course is any indication.
Will Power topped the time chart in the Chevrolet-powered No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car with a best lap of 1 minute, 7.1329 seconds. That was more than 3 seconds quicker than the 2012 pole-winning time of teammate Helio Castroneves and 2.7 seconds quicker than Power’s track record in Round 1 of qualifying.
Recent surface grinding combined with a new compound for the Firestone primary tires developed for the track and cool temperatures helping the turbo-charged engines were contributing factors. But none of the 28 car-driver combinations during the two days were using the Firestone alternate tires, which trade grip/speed for shorter life.