IndyCar: Power on top in Houston first practice

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The old sparring partners, Will Power and Simon Pagenaud, were 1-2 in first practice for the  Verizon IndyCar Series Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston Race 1 (Saturday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra).

Power set down a best time of 1:00.4427 late in the first 45-minute practice session, in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet to lead the time sheets at the 1.6-mile M.D Anderson Cancer Center Speedway at NRG Park.

Pagenaud, back in the orange Oculus-backed No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda after running the white Lucas Oil colors last race at Texas, was second at 1:00.6956.

“The bump in Turn 1 has been smoothened, so it’s definitely a better standard for us,” Pagenaud told IndyCar Radio at the end of the session. “It’s a lot of fun to drive… you have to be very committed in the braking zones. It’s actually very enjoyable so far.”

Sebastien Bourdais, Takuma Sato, and Tony Kanaan completed the top five. Each of the top nine runners got into the 1:00 bracket; the top 16 were within 0.9972 of a second down to Carlos Munoz.

This first practice had one brief red flag interruption as part of the sealant surface in-between Turns 9 and 10 at the 20-minute mark, but this was repaired and the session resumed.  There were a few incidents, including a spin by rookie Mikhail Aleshin at Turn 4, but nothing major or that forced damage.

Second practice occurs from 2 to 2:45 local time, with a 10-minute standing start practice to follow.

Here’s your first practice times.