AVONDALE, AZ – It didn’t take long on Friday to see that the Verizon IndyCar Series is going to put up some insanely fast speeds at the Phoenix International Raceway. Just 30 minutes into the opening test session at the one-mile track on Friday, Simon Pagenaud turned a lap over 184 mph in his No. 22 Chevrolet.
By time the first session ended, Pagenaud’s teammate Helio Castroneves was standing on top as he went 187.850 mph in his No. 3 Team Penske Chevy.
That lap was quickest of the day as it was a full 44 mph faster than Jimmie Johnson’s NASCAR record at PIR and four mph faster than Arie Luyendyk’s open wheel record here (183.599 mph/19.608-seconds).
But, that was short lived as it only took 30 minutes into the third test session (opening 3-hour session on Saturday afternoon) for Josef Newgarden to top that mark as he went well over 189 mph.
Tony Kanaan topped that shortly after as he turned a lap of just shy of 189 mph in his No. 10 NTT Data Chevy.
Then, as we went just past the halfway marker of the initial session, Ed Carpenter became the first driver to eclipse the 190 mph barrier at Phoenix as he turned a lap of 190.226 mph in his No. 20 Chevrolet.
He circled the one-mile track in just 19.341-seconds as that was three-tenths of a second quicker than Luyendyk’s lap 20 years ago, as it’s a safe bet to see that we’re going to see some insane speeds at PIR when the series returns in April.
That lap wouldn’t stand though.
Simon Pagenaud set the pace in the first session on Saturday as he turned a quick lap of 190.747 mph with just 23-minutes to go in the three-hour afternoon test.
Newgarden, was second quickest in the opening session as he turned a lap of 190.714 mph. Carpenter was third at 190.321 mph while Tony Kanaan ended up fourth at 190.165 mph.
Will Power rounded out the top five with a speed of 190.081 mph.
Five drivers as a whole eclipesed the 190 mph barrier in that session as 15 went faster than Luyendyk’s track record.
Like yesterday, the drivers took a two-hour break before heading back on to the track for the final three-hour session of the weekend. Castroneves was fastest in that session under the lights as he turned a lap of 190.894 mph.
That lap was the quickest of the weekend as Helio is proving to be one of the top guys to beat for the pole when we return in April.
The quickest in last night’s session Marco Andretti was second fastest as he turned a lap of 190.286 mph in his No. 27 Honda.
Andretti’s teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay followed as the American turned a lap of 189.663 mph in his No. 28 DHL/Sun Drop Honda.
Two more Honda’s rounded out the top five as it was a much stronger showing for them in the night session.
Takuma Sato (188.679 mph) was fourth fastest while a third Andretti member Carlos Munoz rounded out the top five with a speed of 188.209 mph.
Both Dale Coyne Racing cars were behind them, giving Honda six cars in the top seven in the night session.
This session saw also the first malfunction of the entire test as Will Power’s engine expired entering Turn 1 with just over an hour into the final session.
Power, had just completed his 16th lap in the session with a top speed of 183.648 mph.
As we got within the last half hour of the test, the second incident occurred when Jack Hawksworth crashed his No. 41 ABC Supply Co. Honda into the outside SAFER barrier in Turn 2. It was the lone crash of the weekend.
That’s it for the Phoenix test as there’s a few more tests at Sebring next week then it’s time to go racing in the season opener at St. Pete in two weeks.
Eric Smith is a Senior Writer for the Indy Sports Report. Follow @Ericsportsguru and @IndySportsRep on Twitter