Franchitti leads Target 1-2 at Sonoma IndyCar test day

Franchitti leads Target 1-2 at Sonoma IndyCar test day


Franchitti leads Target 1-2 at Sonoma IndyCar test day


Target Chip Ganassi Racing claimed the top two spots on the speed charts Wednesday as 25 drivers took part in an official pre-race test session ahead of this weekend’s event at Sonoma Raceway.

Ganassi’s Dario Franchitti led teammate Scott Dixon around the 2.4-mile road course, posting a 78.29-second lap to Dixon’s 78.36-second tour in the red Honda-powered machines.

“It was good to get on the track here at Sonoma and just put into practice a couple of things we think we’ve learned about the car over the past year since we’ve been here,” Franchitti told RACER.  “It seemed to go well and gives us a good baseline for the weekend.  It’s always a nice thing when you’re quick and it’s good to see the Target cars 1-2.

“The track conditions are constantly changing here so we have to keep adjusting for it.  If we make good choices and I do a good job behind the wheel, we can hopefully stay up front.”

Teams had a limited amount of new Firestone tires to use on Wednesday, leading most drivers to conserve the number of laps they set during the cooler session prior to the lunch break.

As temperatures rose to the mid-70s closer to the 80s that are expected over the weekend teams worked through a host of setup changes during the afternoon as getting a handle on the Barber Motorsports Park tires being utilized at Sonoma. The difference in track surfaces, however, is worth noting as teams struggled to get the kind of longevity from the Firestone Blacks on Sonoma’s comparatively gripless circuit. Despite the speed the Target drivers found, Dixon was wary about how the Barber tires will hold up during long stints in the 85-lap race.

“It’s always good to learn on a day like this, and Firestone does an excellent job with its tires, but a new set lasts about half a lap before it starts to fall off,” said the Kiwi. “The biggest thing is that these tires were fantastic at Barber where they did the grinding on the track surface, so they were just stuck the entire time. Here, there’s no grinding or anything to give any kind of similar surface grip, so things are fairly mismatched in that way.”

The Barber Blacks could also influence race strategy on Sunday.

“I did a six-lap run and saw a drop off of almost two and a half seconds on the final lap, and if you look at the lap times, I think you’d see a lot of guys are dealing with the same thing,” Dixon added. “Maybe the track is a bit green and maybe it will get better over the weekend, but it’s still going to be a concern. Ideally, you’d want to two-stop the race, and three stops for most guys will probably be the plan, so it makes you think about how long you can actually try and go if the tires are falling off so quickly. If you’re out there just holding onto the thing, you’ll be looking to pit whenever you can to get fresh rubber under you.”

Of the other drivers in attendance, Ryan Hunter-Reay set a 78.47-second lap to take third for Andretti Autosport and Chevy, Dragon Racing’s Sebastian Saavedra was quick, claiming ninth, the returning JR Hildebrand was 18th on his debut for Barracuda Racing (ABOVE), last-minute call-up James Davison was 23rd for Dale Coyne Racing, and Lucas Luhr, in his first full day in the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing entry, was 25th.

Rank Car Driver Name C/E/T Session Time Speed Total Laps
1 10 Franchitti, Dario D/H/F Practice 2 01:18.2945 109.663 38
2 9 Dixon, Scott D/H/F Practice 2 01:18.3694 109.558 46
3 1 Hunter-Reay, Ryan D/C/F Practice 2 01:18.4707 109.417 37
4 12 Power, Will D/C/F Practice 2 01:18.5082 109.364 45
5 3 Castroneves, Helio D/C/F Practice 2 01:18.8965 108.826 48
6 27 Hinchcliffe, James D/C/F Practice 1 01:18.9329 108.776 43
7 25 Andretti, Marco D/C/F Practice 2 01:18.9912 108.696 35
8 7 Bourdais, Sebastien D/C/F Practice 1 01:19.1274 108.509 34
9 6 Saavedra, Sebastian D/C/F Practice 2 01:19.2560 108.332 35
10 19 Wilson, Justin D/H/F Practice 2 01:19.2731 108.309 43
11 78 De Silvestro, Simona D/C/F Practice 2 01:19.3386 108.220 39
12 4 Briscoe, Ryan D/C/F Practice 1 01:19.3941 108.144 38
13 83 Kimball, Charlie D/H/F Practice 2 01:19.4095 108.123 51
14 5 Viso, EJ D/C/F Practice 2 01:19.4495 108.069 28
15 67 Newgarden, Josef D/H/F Practice 2 01:19.4671 108.045 38
16 11 Kanaan, Tony D/C/F Practice 2 01:19.5319 107.957 31
17 16 Jakes, James D/H/F Practice 2 01:19.5426 107.942 44
18 98 Hildebrand, JR D/H/F Practice 2 01:19.6668 107.774 51
19 15 Rahal, Graham D/H/F Practice 2 01:19.7022 107.726 58
20 77 Pagenaud, Simon D/H/F Practice 2 01:19.7100 107.715 57
21 55 Vautier, Tristan (R) D/H/F Practice 2 01:19.9103 107.445 44
22 14 Sato, Takuma D/H/F Practice 2 01:19.9302 107.419 36
23 18 Davison, James (R) D/H/F Practice 2 01:20.1534 107.120 50
24 20 Carpenter, Ed D/C/F Practice 2 01:20.2236 107.026 45
25 97 Luhr, Lucas (R) D/H/F Practice 1 01:20.2262 107.022 44