Josef Newgarden ensured a Team Penske car set the fastest lap in both of Friday’s practice sessions at Barber Motorsports Park ahead of Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.
Newgarden’s 1:07.4345 topped both the second and final outing of Friday and the day’s running overall at Barber at 0.1642 seconds quicker than teammate Will Power’s best in Practice 1.
Spencer Pigot was second fastest in his No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, giving the manufacturer a lock on the top two times. Pigot’s lap was just one-tenth of a second off Newgarden’s effort.
Sebastien Bourdais ensured his Dale Coyne Racing machine was the top Honda with a 1:07.7971 around the 2.3-mile road course. The lap placed him third on the Practice 2 timesheet, an improvement of six positions over Practice 1 for the Frenchman.
Will Power and Alexander Rossi completed the top five, with Rossi’s 1:07.8326 marking the best among the four-car Andretti Autosport team. Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Takuma Sato, Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal — all powered by Honda — rounded out the top 10.
Zachary Claman De Melo turned in the best performance by a rookie during the hourlong session. His 1:08.3616 put the second Coyne car, the No. 19, 12th on the timesheet.
Similar to morning practice, Turn 5 continued to challenge drivers. Zach Veach was the first to find himself mired in gravel, requiring assistance from the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team. The incident brought out the session’s first red flag after 25 minutes green-flag running.
Eleven minutes after Veach’s incident, Simon Pagenaud also had a problem in the same turn and buried his No. 22 Chevrolet in gravel. Pagenaud’s extraction took seven minutes and he turned no further laps in the session.
Practice 2’s final red flag flew with 15 minutes to go when Juncos Racing’s Rene Binder made contact with the tire barrier outside of Turn 16. Binder was later checked and released from the care center and cleared to drive by INDYCAR.
With Friday’s on-track action complete, the Verizon IndyCar Series will be back on track on Saturday for Practice 3 at 10:50 a.m. CDT followed by three rounds of qualifying culminating in the Firestone Fast 6 beginning at 3 p.m. Practice will stream on INDYCAR Race Control while qualifying will air live on CNBC.