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IndyCar Open Wheel

Power Tops Barber Test; Montoya Takes First Laps of 2017

While the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule includes only one race for the month of March, the drivers are still busy behind the wheel as they took to Barber Motorsports Park on Tuesday for testing in advance of the Grand Prix of Alabama later on this season.

As he’s done plenty of times in the past, Will Power topped the speed chart with at a time of one minute and 7.7518 seconds. The Australian could use a good run at Barber in April as a result of starting off 2017 with a 19th place finish in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Notably, in seven starts on the road course, the Team Penske driver has yet to finish outside of the top-five.

“It just shows how tight it is between Honda and Chevy now,” Power said. “It’s tough, man. We just went through a bunch of stuff (during the test day) to see what it does, and I think we got some good answers here. I think we’ve got a good car for here; I feel good about my setup.”

As Power noted, the manufacture parity looks stronger than ever as Max Chilton placed his Chip Ganassi Honda second on the charts, just four hundredths off of Power’s Chevrolet. Chilton is another driver looking for a strong run as he finished 16th in the season opener.

“Good day apart from Power spoiling the fun at the end of the day, but it’s all good fun,” Chilton said. “We actually were struggling a lot with the car all day, that’s why we took a long, long lunch break to sort of change the car. Then we definitely made steps forward, did a few fine-tunes. It’s amazing, you make a few changes, and you jump yourself up the board.”

Power’s teammates Josef Newgarden and Juan Pablo Montoya were third and fourth, followed by Andretti Autosport teammates Marco Andretti and Takuma Sato. Chilton’s teammate Scott Dixon was seventh, followed by Ryan Hunter-Reay, Graham Rahal, and Simon Pagenaud. In total, there were four Chevrolets and six Hondas in the top-10.

For Montoya, this was his first time in the car this season as he was testing ahead of the Indianapolis Grand Prix in May. The Columbian is only scheduled to run two events this season currently – the Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500. It was revealed that Raul Prados would be the lead engineer after spending last year at AJ Foyt Racing, along with Ron Ruzewski who worked with Montoya at Penske.

“I feel like I drove the car yesterday,” Montoya said. “It’s kind of fun. I’ve been out of the car since September, but I feel fine. I have a new crew, new guys, new engineer. It’s working really well.”

Rumor currently is that Montoya has a limited schedule due to being set for a sports car ride with Team Penske, but he said, “I don’t know anything about it. I never know anything. That’s above my pay grade.”

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By Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.