BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – For the second time in three practices for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by America’s First, Will Power was fastest. It doesn’t give the Team Penske driver any boost of confidence heading into qualifying this afternoon.
Power completed a lap of 1 minute, 7.3430 seconds (122.953 mph) at Barber Motorsports Park to lead the 23-car field in the final session prior to Verizon P1 Award qualifying. It’s the best lap from anyone yet this weekend, but with the way track conditions evolved throughout the 45-minute practice, the two-time Barber race winner and four-time pole sitter wasn’t convinced he will be a favorite in qualifying.
“It’s how quickly conditions change, even throughout a session,” Power said. “Once the track temp goes up or the wind changes a little bit, it really changes the balance of the car. I don’t even know what it’s going to be like for qualifying.
“It’s been such an up-and-down weekend for us in that respect as far as having a consistent car. We’ll go back and have a look and see what we can do.”
HONDA INDY GRAND PRIX OF ALABAMA: Practice 3 results; Combined practice results; Round 1 qualifying groups
Rookie Robert Wickens of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports was second on the time sheet today with a lap of 1:07.5633 (122.552 mph) on the No. 6 Lucas Oil Honda. Scott Dixon, five times a runner-up at Barber but never a winner, was third in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda at 1:07.7375 (122.237 mph).
The practice was stopped three times for cars going off track. Ed Jones, in the NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, slid into the gravel trap in Turn 5. Jordan King, in the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet, went into the grass in Turn 2 and slid into the Armco barrier, causing light damage to his car. Charlie Kimball brought out the final red flag when his No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet came to a stop alongside the track in Turn 5.
“We had quite a few reds there and it kind of messed with the flow for most people trying to get some good back-to-back (laps),” Dixon said. “The car seemed a little better this morning. We made some changes. It seems like we’ve got a really small window, it’s really hard to get this car to be consistent.”
Teams have about three hours to figure it out. Verizon P1 Award qualifying airs live at 4 p.m. ET on CNBC, with a re-air at 6:30 on NBCSN. Three knockout rounds will determine the pole sitter. Power has done it four times in the eight previous Barber races, including last year. Ryan Hunter-Reay (2013) and Simon Pagenaud (2016) have on apiece.