IndyCar: Barber Practice 2 sees Hunter-Reay on top again

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The good news for the Verizon IndyCar Series field in practice two for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama was that it ran relatively smoothly, with only one red flag interruption due to debris at Turn 14.

The bad news was that times didn’t improve much from the morning session at Barber Motorsports Park, owing mainly to higher track temperatures.

Ryan Hunter-Reay went to a 1:08.7836 to lead his second straight session, after also pacing the frequently interrupted first practice earlier Friday. His Practice 1 time was 1:08.8470.

The driver of the No. 28 DHL Honda for Andretti Autosport, and defending race winner, seeks a bounce back this weekend after his contact with Josef Newgarden at Long Beach two weeks ago.

“The track was good – this is quite a bit hotter than we’re used to here at Barber,” he said. “It takes some getting used to and the track conditions have certainly changed, but we’ve tested here quite a bit – we tested here in the offseason and we definitely can’t get enough of Barber. It’s going to be a little bit hotter (tomorrow) and the track temp is going to go up, so we’ll look at what we did her last year preparing for qualifying. The Andretti Autosport car is great right now, we’re not where we want to be yet, but I expect to see all four of us up front (tomorrow).”

KVSH Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais was second at 1:08.9311 in the No. 11 Hydroxycut Chevrolet, with two-time Barber winner Will Power third at 1:09.0704 in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.

James Hinchcliffe in the No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda for Andretti Autosport was fourth at 1:09.0036 with inaugural Barber winner Helio Castroneves fifth in the No. 3 AAA Team Penske Chevrolet at 1:09.0586.

Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing’s Newgarden fell to sixth in the No. 67 Honda at 1:09.0877, after ending second this morning, and Scott Dixon, a four-time Barber runner-up who didn’t complete a lap in first practice, was seventh at 1:09.1484 in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

Simon Pagenaud, Ryan Briscoe and Carlos Munoz completed the top 10.

VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES PRACTICE 2 RESULTS

COMBINED PRACTICE RESULTS

Williams confirms Kubica and Sirotkin for Abu Dhabi F1 test

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Williams has confirmed that Robert Kubica will enjoy his third Formula 1 test outing with the team at the end-of-season running in Abu Dhabi next week as rumors grow regarding a possible race seat for 2018.

Almost seven years after his last F1 start, Kubica’s remarkable return from severe injuries sustained in a rally accident saw him enjoy two private tests with Renault before completing running with the team in a 2017-spec car in Hungary over the summer.

Reservations over Kubica’s capabilities prompted Renault to pass on giving him a seat, instead opting to hire Carlos Sainz Jr. for next year, only for Williams to become an alternative for the Pole.

Kubica tested a 2014-spec Williams at both Silverstone and the Hungaroring in recent months, and will now sample a 2017 car when he tests at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Kubica will share track time with regular Williams racer Lance Stroll and Russian youngster Sergey Sirotkin, who has worked with Renault over the past two years but also missed out on a 2018 seat.

“Williams Martini Racing is pleased to confirm it will run Robert Kubica and Sergey Sirotkin for the Abu Dhabi Pirelli tire test, alongside current race driver Lance Stroll,” a statement from the team reads.

“The Pirelli tire test will take place over two days at the Yas Marina circuit during the week following the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“On day one Robert Kubica will drive the FW40 in the morning session, before Lance Stroll takes over in the afternoon.

“On day two Sergey Sirotkin will drive in the morning and afternoon sessions before handing over to Robert in the late afternoon.

“The test is aimed at evaluating 2018 candidate tires on behalf of the Formula 1 tire supplier Pirelli.

“Williams is excited to have this opportunity to assess the new tyres across such an interesting range of drivers: Lance, as confirmed race driver for 2018, Robert with his huge experience, and Sergey as a very promising young talent in Formula 1.”

Williams denied earlier this week it has signed Kubica to partner Stroll for 2018, but indications are the deal looks very likely to go ahead, subject to the relevant paperwork and contracts being finalized.