Castroneves back on top as Phoenix test comes to close

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AVONDALE, Ariz -- Missing the most of the early session didn’t affect Helio Castroneves too much.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner made up for lost time by setting the fastest lap in the final three-hour session of the Verizon IndyCar Series Test in the West, a two-day promoter test at Phoenix International Raceway.

CLICK IT: Practice session results | Combined practice results

“We had a little issue with the Hitachi car in the first session, but were able to take full advantage of the second one,” said Castroneves, whose lap of 19.2735 seconds (190.894 mph) was the overall fastest lap of the two days of running. “The car seemed to be very solid in qualifying trim and we were able to jump into race mode. It’s going to be fast and non-stop. The Phoenix fans are going to have a heck of a race.”

The Hondas of Marco Andretti (190.286 mph), Ryan Hunter-Reay (189.663 mph), Takuma Sato (188.679 mph) and Carlos Munoz (188.209 mph) rounded out the top five for the session as teams focused on race runs in traffic over outright speed.

Three incidents – two involving Castroneves’ teammates – slowed the session.

Will Power brought out a caution about an hour into the session with smoke trailing from No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet after 16 laps.

With less than 50 minutes remaining, Simon Pagenaud slowed in front of a pack of cars after suddenly losing tire pressure in Turn 2. The resulting traffic jam forced Sato to take evasive action and make light contact with the wall with the right rear of the No. 14 ABC Supply Co/AJ Foyt Racing Honda. Both cars were able to resume the test.

With about 30 minutes remaining, Jack Hawksworth made contact with the Turn 2 wall bringing an early end to his session. Hawksworth was uninjured in the incident.

“We came into Turn 1 and the car just got loose,” Hawksworth said. “I caught it, but by that time it had all the lateral force and just took me into the wall. I don’t know what happened, but we snapped and that was it.”

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