Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Practice 1 results
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- On a drying racing ribbon of asphalt after overnight rain, Scott Dixon set the quick lap of the initial practice session for the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama that was one second off his 2013 track qualifying lap record.
If rain that is forecast for the afternoon dodges Barber Motorsports Park, Dixon' lap record of 1 minute, 06.7750 seconds (123.999 mph) in the first round of knockout qualifications will likely fall just as the track records at St. Petersburg and Long Beach in the past four weeks. Will Power of Team Penske earned the Verizon P1 Award in 2014 with a lap of 1:08.3120.
Dixon, driving the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, recorded a quick lap of 1:07.7754 in the 60-minute practice. Power was second (1:07.9929) in the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske car and Luca Filippi, making his debut at the track in the No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka CFH Racing Chevrolet, was third (1:08.0607). Simon Pagenaud and Sebastien Bourdais also were in the top five.
Dixon, who earned his 36th career victory six days earlier on the streets of Long Beach, Calif., was the runner-up four consecutive years at Barber Motorsports Park and finished third last April.
A 45-minute practice session at 1:40 p.m. (ET) precedes the three rounds of knockout qualifications that determines the Verizon P1 Award and sets the grid for the 90-lap race April 26 (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN). Watch the second practice and qualifying on RaceControl.indycar.com. NBCSN also will telecast qualifying at 5 p.m. (ET).
All teams, if not all 23 drivers entered in the race, tested with the new road/street and short oval aerodynamic bodywork packages at Barber Motorsports Park on March 16-17. AJ Foyt Racing’s Takuma Sato said the 2.3-mile, 17-turn road course is more aero-dependent than the recent street course races at Long Beach and St. Petersburg and the road course event at NOLA Motorsports Park.
“You will always need mechanical grip, but the track surface is smooth and very fast so it is quite an aero-dominant track,” said Sato, driver of the No. 14 ABC Supply Co. Honda. “Barber is the type of track that you go fast with a more aero-efficient car.
“Even though you have more downforce now, following the other cars is not necessarily easy. In fact, it’s pretty hard because all the wings and bodywork are more aero-efficient so any turbulence upsets the airflow, which means you lose downforce. Having said that, Honda designed the bodywork (to) minimize the effect of losing downforce when you follow a car, so let’s hope we will be in good shape in traffic.”