IndyCar: Defending Phoenix winner Simon Pagenaud fastest in practice; qualifying coming up

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Simon Pagenaud waited until the last couple of minutes before turning in the quickest speed in Friday’s first IndyCar practice session for Sunday’s Desert Diamond Phoenix Grand Prix at ISM Raceway.

Defending winner of last year’s race, Pagenaud covered the one-mile oval at a speed of 182.375 mph.

Tony Kanaan was second fastest at 182.313 mph, followed by St. Petersburg season-opening winner Sebastien Bourdais (182.138 mph), Ryan Hunter-Reay (182.010) and Alexander Rossi (181.881).

Sixth through 10th were James Hinchcliffe (181.824), Ed Jones (181.075), defending series champion Josef Newgarden (180.931), Matheus Leist (180.604) and Robert Wickens (180.2018).

Both Hinchcliffe and Marco Andretti got loose but managed to keep their cars off the wall. There were no other incidents of note in the one-hour session for the 23-car field.

Qualifying, which will be televised live by NBCSN, takes place tonight at 8 p.m. ET, followed by one final practice session at 11 p.m. to Midnight ET.

The race starts Saturday night at 9 p.m. ET.