Helio Castroneves tops charts in Grand Prix of Alabama practice

Mark Vidreiro

Helio Castroneves was at the top of the speed charts at the conclusion of the first day of practice for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Alabama. Defending winner Will Power was fifth in the final combined practice run-down.

LEEDS, Ala. -- Helio Castroneves won the inaugural Honda Grand Prix of Alabama in 2010 but has been shut out of victory lane at Birmingham ever since by teammate Will Power. Castroneves topped the charts in both practice sessions on Friday afternoon at Barber Motorsports Park with a fast time of 01:08.5540 at 120.781 mph.

He hopes it's the start of a weekend that sees him return to victory lane at the 2.38-mile, 17-turn Birmingham, Ala., road course.

"The car felt pretty good," Castroneves confirmed. "The AAA machine felt very strong this morning. Unfortunately, it was a little bit difficult because it seemed that the track has a lot of grip, and when you have an extra set of tires, it helps a little bit. But, at the end of the day, with A.J. (Allmendinger) and Will (Power), we've been actually throwing a lot of different stuff out there and it seemed to be working."

Several thunderstorms passed through the Birmingham area over the past week and as a result, weepers are pushing through cracks in the track surface. That caused a little trepidation in practice, according to Castroneves.

"The weepers are coming out a little bit more," Castroneves said. "And sometimes when you hit the line, the car kind of does these weird things. But I am happy that Chevy is working with us, and hopefully, we continue the good momentum."

Alex Tagliani was second on the overall charts with Tristan Vautier, Simon Pagenaud and Power completing the top-five. AJ Allmendinger was eighth fastest in his first official practice session in the IndyCar Series.

IndyCar will return to the track for a 30-minute practice session at 9:00 a.m. EST on Saturday morning in preparation for qualifying that is slated to begin at 10:25 a.m. CT. Complete times from Friday's practice session can be found below.

Combined Results of Practice:

  1. Helio Castroneves
  2. Alex Tagliani
  3. Tristan Vautier
  4. Simon Pagenaud
  5. Will Power
  6. Scott Dixon
  7. EJ Viso
  8. AJ Allmendinger
  9. James Jakes
  10. Justin Wilson
  11. Ryan Hunter-Reay
  12. Oriol Servia
  13. Dario Franchitti
  14. James Hinchcliffe
  15. Tony Kanaan
  16. Simona de Silvestro
  17. Charlie Kimball
  18. Marco Andretti
  19. Sebastien Bourdais
  20. Josef Newgarden
  21. Graham Rahal
  22. JR Hildebrand
  23. Sebastian Saavedra
  24. Ed Carpenter
  25. Ana Beatriz

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