Leeds, Ala – We all knew Team Penske would likely be strong this weekend at the Barber Motorsports Park. They have won four of the seven trips to the 2.3-mile Alabama facility. Furthermore, all four of their drivers in their organization has won here as well. That’s why it came to no shock at all that the foursome took the top four spots on the speed chart in the first of two practice sessions on Friday afternoon.
The defending Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama race winner Simon Pagenaud turned the quickest lap of the first session with a time of 1:08.1104-seconds in his No. 1 Chevrolet. Pagenaud, has been very good here over the course of his career and was quick out of the gates on Friday.
The 2015 Barber winner Josef Newgarden was second with a lap around the 17-turn road course at 1:08.1822-seconds in his No. 2 Chevrolet. Newgarden, considers Barber his hometrack as he grew up about three-hours from here in Tennessee and he’s impressing again.
Two-time Alabama winner Will Power laid down a fast lap at the end of the 45-minute practice session with a time of 1:08.2186-seconds in his No. 12 Chevrolet. He was fifth quickest prior to that. The fourth Penske member in Helio Castroneves, who won the inaugural event here in 2010 was fourth with a lap of 1:08.4112-seconds in his No. 3 Chevrolet.
Alexander Rossi was the best of the rest as he rounded out the top five with a lap of 1:08.4560-seconds in his No. 98 Honda. Overall, the top four speeds were Chevy’s, but the next eight all belonged to Honda powered drivers.
2013 and 2014 race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay was sixth overall in session No. 1 while the runner-up the last two years in Graham Rahal was seventh fastest. Long Beach winner James Hinchcliffe was eighth quickest while St. Pete winner Sebastien Bourdais was ninth. Scott Dixon, who’s had six podiums in seven career Barber starts rounded out the top 10.
In the final session, Marco Andretti topped the speed charts at 1:07.7134-seconds to be quickest overall today. Andretti, has the speed and past success at Barber to win this weekend and being fastest on the day, is a great sign for the rest of the weekend.
Three more Penske drivers were right behind with Power being second in the session with a lap of 1:07.7454-seconds while Pagenaud was third at 1:07.8305-seconds. Castroneves was fourth at 1:07.9044-seconds.
Dixon, improved from 10th in session 1 to fifth in session 2 to round out the top five at 1:07.9119-seconds.
The series will practice tomorrow morning from 11-11:45 am locally then qualify for the 8th annual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at 3:15 pm CT.