de Silvestro leads Barber Saturday morning practice

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Simona de Silvestro paced the final practice session before qualifying for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on Saturday morning.

The KV Racing Technology driver led the 14 drivers that dipped into the 1:07 range in the early session. Simon Pagenaud, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Dario Franchitti completed the top five.

“I’m sure it (leading practice) does a lot (for my confidence),” she said. “I think the car is pretty good this morning, we have to see how the track is going to change for a little bit later, but the car has been pretty quick and the whole KV crew has been working really hard during the test here and when we got back.”

AJ Allmendinger in seventh led the three Team Penske cars, fresh off the news he’ll also be racing at Long Beach in two weeks (more to come on that later this afternoon). Will Power was only 10th with Helio Castroneves, fastest on Friday, in 12th. The top 24 cars were within 0.9088 of a second of de Silvestro.

Qualifying begins at 11:25 a.m. EST with TV coverage on at 5 p.m. EST on the NBC Sports Network.

Qualifying groups for the three rounds of knockout qualifying are below, via INDYCAR:

Group 1                Group 2
#98 Alex Tagliani    #3 Helio Castroneves
#77 Simon Pagenaud     #55 Tristan Vautier (R)
#9 Scott Dixon         #12 Will Power
#2 AJ Allmendinger     #5 E.J. Viso
#14 Takuma Sato        #16 James Jakes
#1 Ryan Hunter-Reay    #19 Justin Wilson
#10 Dario Franchitti   #22 Oriol Servia
#11 Tony Kanaan        #27 James Hinchcliffe
#83 Charlie Kimball    #78 Simona de Silvestro
#7 Sebastien Bourdais  #25 Marco Andretti
#15 Graham Rahal       #67 Josef Newgarden
#6 Sebastian Saavedra  #4 JR Hildebrand
#18 Ana Beatriz        #20 Ed Carpenter

‘No desire’ for Lewis Hamilton to race in Indianapolis 500

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Lewis Hamilton has ruled out a future appearance in the Indianapolis 500, saying he has “no real plans” to do any serious racing once his time in Formula 1 is over.

Former teammate and current McLaren driver Fernando Alonso took part in the 101st running of the Indy 500 in May, qualifying fifth and running high up the order before retiring late on with an engine issue.

The F1-to-IndyCar crossover proved to be one of the biggest motorsport stories of the year, and has stirred the imagination of other drivers to make a similar step into other events in the future, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans which is known to be on Alonso’s radar as well as that of Haas racer Romain Grosjean.

Three-time F1 world champion Hamilton admired 2017 Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato’s victory ring when on the podium at the Japanese Grand Prix earlier this month, trying it on and joking it may spur him to enter the race to try and win the jewelry.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, Hamilton stressed he made the comment in jest, saying he holds not interest in entering the ‘500.

“Honestly it hasn’t inspired me to do the Indy 500,” Hamilton said.

“I’ve always respected it and appreciated it. I got to watch part of it when Fernando did it which I thought was super exciting. I love the idea of drivers being able to do more than one series.

“Just the other day I got to drive an F1 car on an oval circuit which was interesting. I have a huge amount of respect for those drivers as it is quite scary approaching those banks at the speeds that they do.

“I personally don’t have a desire to drive it. Maybe one day I will go out and have some fun.

“I have a lot of opportunities to do those kinds of things, but no real plans to do anything serious.”

Hamilton has previously said he would like to try a NASCAR race for fun one day, but has made clear his plan after his F1 career is over is to distance himself from racing in order to pursue other interests.