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Marco Andretti fastest on Friday at Barber

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Marco Andretti put Andretti Autosport and Honda back on top in the second 45-minute free practice session for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, Round 3 of the 2017 season.

The driver of the No. 27 Honda, running in a plain red-and-white livery this weekend with United Fiber & Data only in an associate sponsor role this weekend, put down a best time of 1:07.7134, after installing a set of Firestone’s red alternate tires.

Team Penske’s pair of Simon Pagenaud and Will Power also got into the 1:07 bracket, as did initial Barber winner Helio Castroneves and six-time Barber podium finisher Scott Dixon.

Six of the top 10 were Hondas in this session after Penske and Chevrolet completed a 1-4 sweep in the morning session.

Two red flags interrupted running, a pair of lazy spins for both Max Chilton at Turn 15 and Ed Jones at Turn 5, with neither Brit (yes, Jones is Dubai-based) incurring any damage to their cars.

Meanwhile Ryan Hunter-Reay had a moment as he ran wide at Turn 2 and made light contact with the outside ARMCO barrier to his left front tire, but again sustained no visible damage. Charlie Kimball had a quick off-and-on at the end of the session but escaped unharmed.

Third practice runs tomorrow morning with qualifying coming Saturday afternoon at 3:15 p.m. CT and local time, then on air on NBCSN and online at 3:30 p.m. CT.

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Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”