Defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden led the way in the No.1 Hitachi Chevrolet for Team Penske as the Verizon IndyCar Series held an open test at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama on Tuesday.

Newgarden set a fastest time of 01:07.9793s ending the session just ahead of his Penske team mate’s Will Power in the No.12 Verizon Chevrolet while Helio Castroneves who returned to the Verizon IndyCar Series in the No.3 Pennzoil Chevrolet rounded out the top three with a fastest time of 01:08.3155s on his first day in the new aero kit.

Speaking following the test, Castroneves commented by saying:

It’s awesome. “I’m so thankful to Roger (Penske) for letting me have this test to learn about the new car. The new car is really edgy on entry to the corners, but at the end of day, it’s faster, which makes it fun. Now I’m starting to sort it out and understand the tires but the whole scenario.

The Brazilian will be back in Verizon IndyCar Series action next week as the field test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway starting on March 23rd. Castroneves went on to say:

It’s hard to come here and know that when the team comes back you won’t be racing. “I accepted the challenge of this new chapter in my life, but it’s great to get familiar with the car before the Indy 500. That’s the big one.

Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser/Sullivan Racing’s Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg race winner Sebastien Bourdais in the No.18 SealMaster Honda was the fastest Honda powered driver setting a fastest time of 01:08.3820s ending the session just ahead of his team mate Zachary Claman DeMelo in the No.19 PaySafe Honda.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato in the No.30 MiJack Honda ended the session in sixth place.

Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter Reay in the No.28 DHL Honda ended the session in seventh place with a fastest time of 01:08.6367s ending up just ahead of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon in the No.9 PNC Bank Honda with a fastest time of 01:08.6870s.

Simon Pagenaud in the No.22 Menards Chevrolet was ninth fastest just ahead of Andretti Autosport’s Zach Veach who rounded out the top ten.

Graham Rahal in the No.15 MiJack Honda ended the session in 11th place just ahead of Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi in the No.27 NAPA Auto Parts Honda who set a fastest time of 01:08.9116s while AJ Foyt Racing’s Matheus ‘Matt’ Leist was 13th fastest.

Max Chilton in the No.59 Gallagher Chevrolet was 14th fastest for Carlin Racing. Ed Jones in the No.10 NTT DATA Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing was 15th fastest with a time of 01:09:2330s. AJ Foyt Racing’s Tony Kanaan in the No.14 ABC Supply Chevrolet was 16th fastest with a time of 01:09.3859s.

Marco Andretti was 17th fastest for Andretti Autosport just ahead of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports pairing of James Hinchcliffe in the No.5 Arrow Electronics Honda who set a fastest time of 01:09.4366s while Robert Wickens in the No.6 Lucas Oil Honda was 19th.

Charlie Kimball in the No.23 Tresiba Chevrolet for Carlin Racing was 20th with a fastest time of 01:09.6123s ending the session just ahead of Ed Carpenter Racing’s pairing of Jordan King in the No.20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet and Spencer Pigot in the No.21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet.

Harding Racing’s Gabby Chaves was 23rd fastest in the No.88 Chevrolet with a fastest time of 01:12.1430s. Juncos Racing’s Rene Binder rounded out the order in 24th place with a fastest time of 01:12.1778s.

Helio Castroneves discussed in more detail what the new aero kit is like to drive by saying:

It’s big-time (different). “In some of the corners you feel the rear (of the car) moving around. My first impression was, ‘Whoa, this is going to be tough.’ But as you get comfortable, you start to make changes.

The three time Indianapolis 500 winner went on to discuss sports cars and IndyCar saying:

I forgot how a small change in an Indy car is a big change on the racetrack. In sports cars, the change isn’t so big. Also, the sports car has traction control, which this car doesn’t, so you have to take it easy. There are still a few details that I have to work out, but muscle memory kicks in and we’re getting there.

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