Ryan Hunter-Reay

LEXINGTON, Ohio -- Ryan Hunter-Reay, who's third in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship standings with four races left in the season, needs a solid result in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio to remain in serious contention for his second series title.

The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., resident started strong on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course by topping the time chart in the initial practice session with a lap of 1 minute, 6.5316 seconds in the No. 28 DHL car for Andretti Autosport. In eight Indy car starts at Mid-Ohio, Hunter-Reay has four top-five and seven top-10 finishes.

Click it: Practice 1 results

A second 45-minute session is scheduled for 2 p.m. (ET) and a third will start at 10 a.m. (ET) Aug. 2. The three rounds of qualifications, featuring the Firestone Fast Six to determine the Verizon P1 Award winner, starts at 2 p.m. Aug. 2. All sessions are being streamed live on IndyCar.com in conjunction with real-time Timing & Scoring and the IMS Radio Network broadcast with Paul Page.

Simon Pagenaud, a two-time race winner this season and the runner-up to Charlie Kimball at Mid-Ohio last August, was second-quick (1:06.6731) in the No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports entry. Scott Dixon, who has won four of the past seven races at Mid-Ohio, was third (1:06.7140) in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car.

Mikhail Aleshin, making his first start at Mid-Ohio, was fourth in the No. 7 SMP Racing car and Sebastien Bourdais was fifth in the No. 11 Mistic KVSH Racing car. Bourdais was the Verizon P1 Award winner and Honda Indy Toronto Race 1 winner two weeks ago.

Series points leader Helio Castroneves was 18th on the time chart and Team Penske teammate Will Power, who enters the 15th race of the season 13 points behind, was 13th.

Click for the high-resolution infographic

MidOhio Practice 1 Infographic