James Hinchcliffe

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- James Hinchcliffe spent much of the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series race at Barber Motorsports Park stranded in the infield because of an on-track incident. It was a great vantage point to watch the remainder of the 90-lap race, but being a spectator wasn't what the Andretti Autosport driver wanted -- especially after earning his first series victory two weeks earlier at St. Petersburg, Fla.

The Toronto native, who started 20th last April, is making strides to start much higher April 27 in the No. 27 United Fiber & Data car. In the practice preceding qualifications for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, Hinchcliffe turned the quickest lap of the weekend at 1 minute, 7.9206 seconds to top the 23-car field on the 2.38-mile, 17-turn course.

Four different teams were represented in the top 5 and the top 18 cars were separated by less than one second.

Click it: Practice 3 results || Combined practice results || Session 1 qualifying groups 

The three rounds of qualifications, featuring the Firestone Fast Six to determine the Verizon P1 Award winner and the first three rows for the 90-lap race, starts at 3 p.m. (ET).

The IMS Radio Network broadcast, in conjunction with real-time Timing & Scoring, is on www.indycar.com and the INDYCAR 14 app. Paul Page is the chief announcer. NBCSN telecasts taped qualifications (12:30 a.m. ET, April 27) and the race live (2:30 p.m., April 27). Leigh Diffey is the chief announcer.

Sebastien Bourdais, who was second quick through two practices April 25 in the No. 11 Hydroxycut/KVSH Racing car, was .1084 of a second behind Hinchcliffe in the morning session. Scott Dixon, whose No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car experienced electrical issues 24 hours earlier that limited laps, was third quick. The reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion has been the race runner-up each of the four years at Barber.

Hinchcliffe's teammate, Ryan Hunter-Reay, who topped both 45-minute sessions April 25, was sixth on the time sheet in the No. 28 DHL car. Hunter-Reay won the race last year from the pole. Hinchcliffe had a great view of Hunter-Reay crossing under the twin checkered flags.

Click to download the hi-res Standings Infographic

HIGPA Practice 3 Infographic