HPD celebrates 20 years with Indy, ALMS drivers

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Honda’s IndyCar drivers for the 2013 season made an appearance in Honda Performance Development’s headquarters in Santa Clarita, Calif., earlier this week, to celebrate HPD’s 20th year since its 1993 founding. Tweets rolled in from the IndyCar drivers and American Le Mans Series drivers (Lucas Luhr, who won the ALMS Long Beach race in a Muscle Milk HPD prototype) throughout the day.

Takuma Sato’s win must have featured some celebration because fellow Honda driver Ana Beatriz posted an Instagram photo of the Long Beach winner passed out in a car en route to HPD. Simon Pagenaud, Justin Wilson and Josef Newgarden were also amused onlookers.

At St. Petersburg, Honda premiered a “big head” campaign (pictured) – where they took the Honda drivers’ headshots and blew them up onto giant cardboard cutouts that were on display first in the pit lane, and later in the grandstands. The tradition has been popular at college basketball games in years past.

Honda joined IndyCar in 1994, won its first race with Andre Ribeiro at Loudon, N.H. in 1995, and its first championship with KV Racing Technology co-owner Jimmy Vasser, then driving for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, in 1996.

Vasser’s title set of a streak of six consecutive Honda titles in CART, won by Alex Zanardi (1997-98), Juan Montoya (1999) and Gil de Ferran, a new HPD ambassador (2000-01) before they moved to the IRL ranks in 2003.

Honda won its first Indianapolis 500 with Buddy Rice in 2004, also the same year it took its first IRL title with Tony Kanaan. From 2006 through 2011, Honda served as the sole supplier of engines for IndyCar – which dropped the beleaguered IRL moniker ahead of open wheel unification in 2008.

Power, Newgarden, Dixon fastest in first of 2 IndyCar practices today at Barber Motorsports Park

Photo: IndyCar
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Will Power was fastest in Friday’s first of two IndyCar practice sessions at Barber Motorsports Park.

Power covered the 2.3-mile permanent road course in 1:07.5987 minutes at 122.488 mph in the 45-minute practice session.

Even though he spun off the course during his session, Phoenix winner Josef Newgarden still managed to be second-fastest (121.919 mph at 1:07.9141 minutes), followed by Scott Dixon (121.296 mph/1:082627), Max Chilton (121.251 mph/1:08.2882) and Ed Jones (121.215 mph/1:09.5692).

 

Sixth through 10th were Simon Pagenaud (121.208 mph/1:08.3122), Jordan King (121.113 mph/1:083661), Graham Rahal (121.059 mph/1:08.3964), St. Petersburg winner Sebastien Bourdais (121.029 mph/1:08.4131) and rookie Zach Veach (121.014 mph/1:08.4216).

Here’s the full speed chart:

Incidents:

* Early in the session, Long Beach winner Alexander Rossi ran off the track and into the grass, striking a small sign, but was able to get back on-track. However, Rossi was only able to complete 10 laps, relegating him to 20th-fastest in the 23-car field.

* Moments later, it appeared the rear brakes locked up on Newgarden heading into Turn 5, spinning him into the gravel trap. He was able to get going and returned to the pits for service and was back on-track with less than four minutes remaining in the session.

ALSO OF NOTE:

* The second practice session of the day will begin at 3:50 p.m. ET. A third practice will take part Saturday morning at 10:50 a.m. ET, followed by qualifying beginning at 4:05 p.m. ET. The race, to be televised live Sunday on NBCSN, is slated to start at 3:30 p.m. ET.

* However, weather forecast does not look promising for Sunday’s race. As of 1 p.m. ET today, the forecast calls for 100 percent rain throughout the day.

* Dixon has had an incredible record at Barber Motorsports Park, with seven podium finishes in eight starts there. Except for one thing: he has yet to win a race there. But he does have five runner-up and two other third-place showings on the permanent road course.

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