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Power puts out engine fire at IndyCar testing

In this photo made Monday, March 5, 2012, IndyCar driver Will Power, of Australia, sprays his car with a fire extinguisher after it caught on fire during testing in Sebring, Fla. In this photo made Monday, March 5, 2012, IndyCar driver Will Power, of Australia, sprays his car with a fire extinguisher after it caught on fire during testing in Sebring, Fla. (AP Photo/LAT, Mike Levitt)
By Jenna Fryer
AP Auto Racing Writer / March 6, 2012
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SEBRING, Fla.—NASCAR had its big fire moment at Daytona 500, when a jet fuel fire raged across the track.

IndyCar's first fire of the season wasn't quite the same inferno, but had its own twist.

A fire inside Will Power's race car ended his first day of testing at Sebring International Raceway, and the Australian grabbed an extinguisher to battle the blaze himself.

Take that, Brad Keselowski.

Keselowski and Power both drive for Penske Racing, but the NASCAR driver drew worldwide attention for pulling his phone out of a pocket during a red-flag in the Daytona 500 to tweet pictures of the jet dryer fire that stopped the race.

Power didn't actually have a fire extinguisher inside his car, but photos of him playing fire marshal caused many fans on Twitter to wonder why he was in position to fight the fire himself.

"The safety worker was across the track and he was an older gentleman, kind of struggling to get across, so I ran and grabbed it myself," Power said Tuesday, the second day of IndyCar testing at Sebring.

Power had a second fire in his car on Tuesday afternoon, but said he managed to get the car back to pit road and his Penske crew put it out.

"This time I jumped out and ran away," Power said.

He said he's not sure what the problem is that's causing his car to catch fire, and said the Tuesday afternoon issue spoiled what he believed would have been the fastest lap of the session.

He ended second fastest Tuesday afternoon.

In Monday's fire, even though Power was not in danger, he had a sense of urgency about the fire because he was trying to protect his Chevrolet engine. A small leak started the fire, but the damage ruined the engine in his Penske Dallara DW12. The organization had to fly a new one into Sebring overnight, and it cost Power most of Tuesday morning's testing session.

He was able to get in seven laps right before the break, and the perennial title contender posted the fourth-fastest time of the session. Teammate Helio Castroneves paced the morning session.

Despite the setback, Power was pleased with this latest round of testing and believes his Penske team is ready for the March 25 season-opener at St. Petersburg.

"I think it has been really good, we found more this test than any other test and I'm really happy," Power said. "We're at a point where we're pretty set on the configuration we want to run, and are just working on the details of the lap times."

Power had been concerned at the start of testing IndyCar's new car about its weight distribution, but said development over the winter has him confident the issue will get resolved.

"It's getting better, we're making improvements with this weight distribution, we're getting closer," Power said. "Everyone is doing as much as they can in the time they've had to get the weight distribution forward. I think they need to keep digging and finding some more features.

"But I think this car can be a really, really good car once they get the weight right."

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