Ryan Hunter-Reay

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Defending Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama winner Ryan Hunter-Reay was quickest in the initial practice for the April 27 race with a lap of 1 minute, 8.8470 seconds in the No. 28 DHL car for Andretti Autosport.

Josef Newgarden, who last April jumped from the 22nd starting position to ninth (his first Verizon IndyCar Series top 10) was .0866 of a second behind in the No. 67 Hartman Oil car for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, while Helio Castroneves (1:09.0094) was third in the No. 3 AAA Insurance Team Penske car.

Three separate red flags for cars stopped/off course cut into the allotted 45 minutes on the 2.38-mile, 17-turn road course.

Click it: Practice 1 results

Castroneves, who won the inaugural race at Barber Motorsports Park in 2010, placed third the past two years. Teammate Will Power (12th in the session) won the race in 2011 and '12. Castroneves (2012) and Power (2010, 2011) earned the Verizon P1 Award the first three years.

"Winning the first race there in 2010 was a great feeling. Everyone wants to be the first to do something," Castroneves said. "Team Penske has been pretty solid there and I expect more of the same this weekend. All three cars were quick at spring training (in mid-March at Barber) and we've started the year with a lot of speed. The No. 3 AAA Chevrolet was a podium car at Long Beach, but we weren't able to close that deal. I feel like we can get the job done at Barber."

Another 45-minute session is scheduled for 2 p.m. (CT). Practice at 10 a.m. (CT) April 26 precedes the three rounds of qualifications. All Verizon IndyCar Series sessions are on IMS Radio Network in conjunction with real-time Timing & Scoring on www.indycar.com and INDYCAR 14 app. Paul Page is the chief announcer. NBCSN telecasts taped qualifications (11:30 p.m., April 26, Central time) and the 90-lap race live (1:30-4:30 p.m., April 27). Leigh Diffey is the chief announcer.

Before the session, James Hinchcliffe of Andretti Autosport and Sebastian Saavedra of AFS KVAFS Racing, who reported injuries suffered in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 13, were re-evaluated by INDYCAR medical director Dr. Michael Olinger and cleared to drive.

Click to download the hi-res Standings Infographic

HIGPA Practice 1 Infographic