Helio Castroneves, the defending polesitter at Barber Motorsports Park, led practice Friday for the second round of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season.
The Brazilian was one of 11 drivers who dipped into the 1:08 range in Friday’s second practice session around the 2.3-mile road course. That’s still nearly a second off times set in testing, but teams have not yet run Firestone’s softer, grippier alternate red tires.
“I think it’s better to be lucky than good,” he said. “Obviously with the yellow in the end a lot of guys probably put tires, but the car felt pretty good. The AAA team felt really strong, the morning unfortunately it was a little bit difficult because seeing that the track has lots of grip and when you have an extra set of tires certainly it helps a little bit. In the end of the day, with AJ and Will we’ve been actually doing a lot of different stuff out there and it seems to be working.”
Like several other drivers this weekend, Castroneves’ car features an alternate livery. Castroneves is sporting blue and white AAA colors, with an additional marketing campaign that sees “Turbo,” the upcoming DreamWorks Animation film about a snail who races in the Indianapolis 500.
Although a Chevrolet was quickest, Honda runners took four of the next six spots on the timesheets for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. Sam Schmidt’s two cars were third and fourth, rookie Tristan Vautier again getting the better of Simon Pagenaud, while Alex Tagliani leapt to second in the Barracuda/Bryan Herta Autosport entry and Scott Dixon ended the day in sixth.
Will Power was fifth once again, as in the morning, with AJ Allmendinger continuing his weekend within a tenth of his Australian Team Penske teammate once again in eighth place.
EJ Viso was seventh, best of Andretti Autosport’s quartet of cars, with James Jakes (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) and St. Petersburg front row starter Takuma Sato completing the top 10. Viso’s session included an off course excursion at Turn 8, but without any damage he was able to return back to the pits.
Dale Coyne Racing made strides with its brakes – both Justin Wilson and Ana Beatriz knocked one full second off their morning times – while the rest of the AGR contingent struggled. Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe and Marco Andretti have not yet been on the pace. KV Racing Technology also dropped to 16th and 17th with Tony Kanaan and Simona de Silvestro – both found some time but not as much as others – and Charlie Kimball was one of only two drivers to fail to improve on his time from practice one. That meant a drop from fourth to 18th on the day.
Through two sessions, 23 of 26 drivers have eclipsed Power’s track record of 1:09.8529, which will almost certainly be broken with official times in qualifying on Saturday. Qualifying airs at 5 p.m. EST Saturday on the NBC Sports Network.
Combined times from Practice 1 and 2 are below:
Rank Car Driver Team C/E/T Time 1. 3 Helio Castroneves Penske D/C/F 1:08.5440 2. 98 Alex Tagliani Barracuda/BHA D/H/F 1:08.6288 3. 55 Tristan Vautier Schmidt Peterson D/H/F 1:08.6720 4. 77 Simon Pagenaud Schmidt Hamilton D/H/F 1:08.7627 5. 12 Will Power Penske D/C/F 1:08.8066 6. 9 Scott Dixon Target Chip Ganassi D/H/F 1:08.8446 7. 5 EJ Viso Venezuela/Andretti/HVM D/C/F 1:08.8556 8. 2 AJ Allmendinger Penske D/C/F 1:08.9119 9. 16 James Jakes RLL D/H/F 1:08.9479 10. 14 Takuma Sato Foyt D/H/F 1:08.9817 11. 19 Justin Wilson Coyne D/H/F 1:08.9917 12. 1 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti D/C/F 1:09.0524 13. 22 Oriol Servia Panther DRR D/C/F 1:09.1384 14. 10 Dario Franchitti Target Chip Ganassi D/H/F 1:09.1492 15. 27 James Hinchcliffe Andretti D/C/F 1:09.2602 16. 11 Tony Kanaan KV D/C/F 1:09.2755 17. 78 Simona de Silvestro KV D/C/F 1:09.2779 18. 83 Charlie Kimball Novo Nordisk Ganassi D/H/F 1:09.2798* 19. 25 Marco Andretti Andretti D/C/F 1:09.3452 20. 7 Sebastien Bourdais Dragon D/C/F 1:09.3480 21. 67 Josef Newgarden Fisher Hartman D/H/F 1:09.5084 22. 15 Graham Rahal RLL D/H/F 1:09.6315 23. 4 JR Hildebrand Panther D/C/F 1:09.7176 24. 6 Sebastian Saavedra Dragon D/C/F 1:10.1026* 25. 20 Ed Carpenter Carpenter D/C/F 1:10.2497 26. 18 Ana Beatriz Coyne D/H/F 1:11.2361
*Fastest time set in Practice 1 instead of Practice 2