The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to Barber Motorsports Park this weekend, for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. There were 824 combined laps of practice time today, and the top two spots went to the Honda-powered team of AJ Foyt Racing. Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth were fastest around the 2.3 mile road course. Sato’s fastest lap on Friday was 1:07.2157 seconds. James Hinchcliffe was third fastest, giving Honda the top three spots on Friday.
Sebastien Bourdais was the quickest Chevrolet driver, and the four Team Penske cars were 5th, 8th, 9th, and 17th overall on Friday. Scott Dixon was 10th fastest, and is still searching for his first victory at Barber. He has never won the pole for the event, but he has finished on the podium in all six races here, including four runner-up finishes.
Friday Combined Practice Results
Will Power has started on the front row in five of the six races here, which includes three poles. He has also finished in the top five in every race at Barber, including two wins. He had a runoff during the second practice session, but he wasn’t alone. There were plenty of close calls on Friday, but luckily there weren’t any serious incidents. Bourdais had the LED lights on the wheels of his car, which won’t be used in the race on Sunday.
Speaking of Bourdais, he had a run in with Juan Montoya in the first practice session, which resulted in a slight penalty for the Colombian driver.
There will be one final 45-minute practice session tomorrow at Noon ET, followed by qualifying for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, which begins at 4 PM on NBCSN.
Practice Photos via IndyCar
Juan Montoya: “We had a good day today. We are struggling a bit with understeer in the Verizon Chevy. We definitely made gains on it. I’m usually in the top 10 here and we are right there again. If we can continue to dial the understeer out we will be better. Qualifying is going to be key for us tomorrow so we will go to work on that.”
Helio Castroneves: “The AAA Insurance Chevrolet wasn’t as consistent as we hoped. Fortunately, we have another practice tomorrow and teammates to get information from. I’m confident we’ll have a good qualifying session tomorrow.”
James Hinchcliffe: “It was a solid first day for us. Once again, the No. 5 Arrow Electronics car was pretty strong off the truck and we were hoping for that. We had a good test here back in February and we were hoping that that was going to transfer over. The car was quite good this morning and we didn’t do many changes over lunch but made it even a tick better. We still had some things that went wrong in the last session that I think held us back from even a little more speed so we’ll see. It’s only Friday, it doesn’t matter until it matters. We saw this in Long Beach too. Some of the other guys didn’t really show their speed until Saturday morning so ultimately, we don’t know where we are just yet but it’s certainly a good starting point and hopefully we can just keep this momentum going into qualifying tomorrow.”
Max Chilton: “We spent the morning session working on the Gallagher car and really just tried to get it to my liking. It’s kind of floating around there underneath me so we have some work to do. This is one of the few tracks I was able to test at in the preseason and I know my teammates have gotten some good results here, especially Scott. I hope we can learn from today and move forward to get the car going in the right direction for tomorrow.”
Scott Dixon: “It was kind of a slow start today for us. The field is really, really tight. We were working on the balance of the Coke car here at Barber in the morning session. It rained a lot this afternoon and we let the others go out while the track was drying. Overall I think our car is improving but we still have a little way to go to get it where it needs to be for Sunday. I think the front runners took tires at the end of the day so we should be up in the mix when it matters.”
Tony Kanaan: “We had some electrical issues this morning in the first practice so we weren’t able to run near as much as we wanted to. I think we ended up running five or six laps and we had to spend the last 20 minutes trying to fix the issue. The team was able to get everything fixed during the break and we were good to go for the second practice. Thankfully the track dried up after the rain this afternoon and we were able to log some laps and get some solid qualifying runs in. We aren’t completely happy with the qualifying setup but we know what we need to change to run in tomorrow’s morning session and prepare for qualifying tomorrow afternoon.”
Sebastien Bourdais: “We came out of the test at Barber in March feeling pretty happy with the EUROPA – KVSH Racing machine. The car was good in the morning session and we made it a little better. In the afternoon, we made some changes and learned some things. The whole field is very close, so you have to stay on top of the changing conditions. We have to keep digging, working hard and hopefully, we can enjoy a good race weekend.”
Will Power: “We changed a few things on the Verizon Chevy for the second practice. So, we got ourselves in the right window and we feel confident for tomorrow. We’re pretty happy with the car and I believe we’re around about where we need to be.”
Takuma Sato: “It’s good. Just tiny details, working on the small factors, and Jack (Hawksworth) and I divided a few problems and experimented test items, and we got everything back together and then show the trim and the speed for the team. The Honda package seems to be working pretty well, so we were happy to see it, of course, and good competition out there. Extremely close to everyone else. I don’t know what’s happening for tomorrow. Conditions might be changing and maybe we’ll see, but at least we’ve been competitive the first two sessions. That’s been promising.”
Graham Rahal: “Overall I feel pretty good with how we ran today. I feel like we have a decent car. Obviously I wanted to run a better lap at the end on new tires but it just didn’t quite work out. We are learning a lot of things that will help improve the car. We utilized the second session as a test session and kind of departed from where we were this morning and so far, so good. It would be great to win this race but, for us, we just need to get this season kicked off and there would be no better way to do that than to win.”
Conor Daly: “I think we knew this place would be a challenge for us. There’s a lot here at Barber Motorsports Park that is really technical and it really focuses on the mechanical side of the set up. We just have to keep working on what we’re doing. We’re evaluating things that we need to evaluate on our Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality car and hopefully we can put a few things together overnight for tomorrow. It’s just a work in progress basically. The loss of track time at the start of the session, while we were waiting for the track to dry up a bit, wasn’t really a factor. In the end we’re limited by tires, so we only really ran as much as we were going to anyway I think. It just happened in a tighter window.”
Luca Filippi: “Overall, it was a positive day. We started with a good set up on the Boy Scouts of America car in the morning and I had a good feeling with the car so everything was going well. We were pretty fast in the first practice session and then the weather wasn’t great to start the afternoon. When it got better, we just didn’t make an ultimate fast lap. I think the lap times are so close for everybody that in qualifying tomorrow it will be very crucial to have a good lap with no mistakes and near perfection to go through the different qualifying rounds. We are there I think, we just have to be positive for tomorrow.”
Josef Newgarden: “We were better in the second session than in the first! Really, we were too bad in the first session, it was just kind of a strange progression for track temp, tires, and when people were using what. Everyone was kind of jumbled all over the place with some fast guys midfield to the back. I wasn’t too worried about that, I wanted to see where we’d be at in Practice 2 and we were a lot better here. We have been good at Barber in the past and we’re back with a great group with the Fuzzy’s crew. I’m pretty happy with where we’re at and feel confident for tomorrow.”
Simon Pagenaud: “I like the racing here because especially on restarts, you get a lot of opportunities to run side by side in Turn 1, Turn 2, Turn 5, even entry of Turn 8, so the first lap is very exciting. You can make a move. The weather every year is playing a card, as well, and I kind of like that. That’s racing. You’ve got to play with the elements, and I remember I think it was 2014 when it rained at the beginning of the race and then it was dry at the end. I just love that kind of racing. I wouldn’t mind a weekend like that.”
Carlos Munoz: “After one more day of practice in Barber, I think I feel a little bit stronger after Long Beach, but everyone is so close together and tires make a big difference here. It depends how many sets of new tires you will have. We have work to do for tomorrow, it’s going to be real close – the goal is to be in the Firestone Fast Six. I think we have the car for it but we need to put it all together.”
Marco Andretti: “After one more day of practice in Barber, I think I feel a little bit stronger after Long Beach, but everyone is so close together and tires make a big difference here. It depends how many sets of new tires you will have. We have work to do for tomorrow, it’s going to be real close – the goal is to be in the Firestone Fast Six. I think we have the car for it but we need to put it all together.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay: “We had a pretty challenging day, but we started out promising – P4 in the first session – then in the second session we didn’t get our run on new tires. I think right now we’re a top seven car; we just have to put it all together and find some answers tonight with our teammates.”
Jack Hawksworth: “It’s been good. I mean, we’ve been good on practice days at every single race pretty much this year. You know, kind of just focused on continuing it throughout the weekend. And yeah, capitalizing on the performance of the car. We’ve gone to St. Pete, Long Beach, certainly both tracks where we had a very, very good car, and in practice. For several reasons it didn’t work out, but we seem to have a good car here, as evidenced by both cars being at the front, so I’m looking forward to the race and hoping we can finally turn it into a positive result this weekend.”
Charlie Kimball: “Honestly, today was probably one of the more frustrating days I’ve ever had in an Indy car. We couldn’t find the balance and we really struggled to find grip. We tried a few different things and just went in circles. We need to really look hard tonight and figure out what direction we need to go in for tomorrow’s practice session to prepare for qualifying. I’m very confident in the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing guys and I know we’ll get it figured out, but it just kind of feels like we’re chasing our tails at the moment.”
Alexander Rossi: “Honestly, I think that is the worst Friday I have ever had in my racing career. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such a big deficit in pace. We have to either go home or start from scratch tomorrow, and I don’t want to go home.”