Foyt duo tops practice for Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

Updated: 

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Friday, April 22, 2016) – AJ Foyt Racing made a strong statement in practice for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, with drivers Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth clocking the fastest laps of the day to top the speed chart.

Sato, in the No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda, set the pace with a lap of 1 minute, 7.2157 seconds (123.186 mph) at Barber Motorsports Park that’s less than a half-second off the track record set in 2013 by Scott Dixon. Hawksworth, in the No. 41 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda, was second at 1:07.2197 (123.178 mph).

CLICK HERE: Practice 1 results; Practice 2 resultsCombined practice results; Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Day 1 highlights video

Sato, whose best start at Barber in six previous tries is sixth, credited teamwork between his and Hawksworth’s crews for taking them to the front of the leaderboard.

"Just tiny details, working on the small factors," the 39-year-old Japanese driver said. "Jack and I divided a few problems and experimented test items, and we got everything back together, and then show the trim and the speed for the team.

"The Honda package seems to be working pretty well, so we were happy to see it, of course, and good competition out there. Extremely close to everyone else."

Hawksworth is working this weekend with a new race engineer, Daniele Cucchiaroni, who served as Sato’s performance engineer in 2015. Cucchiaroni was Hawksworth’s performance engineer his rookie season in 2014 with Bryan Herta Autosport before both joined the Foyt team last year.

"This season he was working on my car as the performance engineer," said Hawksworth, the 25-year-old Brit. "Very clever guy. We have a very good relationship. I always knew he was going to end up engineering my car at some point or another in the future. I didn't realize it was going to be quite this soon, but it's been good."

The 1-2 showing had team president Larry Foyt, son of team owner and four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt, beaming.

"We had a good test here in (March) and we felt like we’d be decent, so it’s nice," said Larry Foyt, who’s also Sato’s race strategist. "The hard work over the winter seems to be translating. You’ve still got to qualify, but that was a great day. To have both cars up there is what we want."

With James Hinchcliffe running third in the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry (1:07.2455, 123.131 mph), it gave Honda the top three cars on the speed chart. All three top laps were set in the afternoon practice on a drying track following a torrential downpour between sessions.

"It was a solid first day for us," Hinchcliffe said. "Once again, the No. 5 Arrow Electronics car was pretty strong off the truck and we were hoping for that. We had a good test here back in February and we were hoping that that was going to transfer over."

Sebastien Bourdais, in the No. 11 Team Europa – KVSH Racing car, was the fastest Chevrolet in the 21-car field with a lap of 1:07.3399 (122.958 mph) established in the morning practice. Will Power rounded out the combined top five with a lap of 1:07.3434 (122.952 mph) this afternoon in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.

Both practices ran incident-free, though few cars turned laps in the first half of the afternoon session, waiting for the  Alabama sun to dry the surface.

A third practice is set for noon-12:45 p.m. ET Saturday (streamed live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com), the final chance for Verizon IndyCar Series entrants to dial in their cars prior to Verizon P1 Award knockout qualifying at 4 p.m. ET (NBCSN). The 90-lap race on the 2.3-mile permanent road course goes off Sunday (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN and Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network).

The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is the fourth of 16 races on the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud is the current points leader with a 14-point advantage over Dixon.

Results of the afternoon practice session:

Rank

Car

Driver Name

C/A/E/T

Time

Speed

Diff

Gap

Best Lap

Total Laps

1

14

Sato, Takuma

D/H/H/F

01:07.2157

123.186

--.----

--.----

11

14

2

41

Hawksworth, Jack

D/H/H/F

01:07.2197

123.178

0.0040

0.0040

12

16

3

5

Hinchcliffe, James

D/H/H/F

01:07.2455

123.131

0.0298

0.0258

19

22

4

12

Power, Will

D/C/C/F

01:07.3434

122.952

0.1277

0.0979

18

18

5

15

Rahal, Graham

D/H/H/F

01:07.3494

122.941

0.1337

0.0060

20

21

6

21

Newgarden, Josef

D/C/C/F

01:07.3871

122.872

0.1714

0.0377

11

21

7

22

Pagenaud, Simon

D/C/C/F

01:07.4151

122.821

0.1994

0.0280

15

20

8

2

Montoya, Juan Pablo

D/C/C/F

01:07.4693

122.722

0.2536

0.0542

13

17

9

9

Dixon, Scott

D/C/C/F

01:07.4994

122.668

0.2837

0.0301

13

17

10

11

Bourdais, Sebastien

D/C/C/F

01:07.5187

122.633

0.3030

0.0193

7

19

11

28

Hunter-Reay, Ryan

D/H/H/F

01:07.5831

122.516

0.3674

0.0644

19

22

12

26

Munoz, Carlos

D/H/H/F

01:07.5951

122.494

0.3794

0.0120

12

16

13

7

Aleshin, Mikhail

D/H/H/F

01:07.6744

122.351

0.4587

0.0793

17

17

14

10

Kanaan, Tony

D/C/C/F

01:07.7779

122.164

0.5622

0.1035

19

24

15

27

Andretti, Marco

D/H/H/F

01:07.8069

122.111

0.5912

0.0290

20

20

16

3

Castroneves, Helio

D/C/C/F

01:07.8107

122.105

0.5950

0.0038

14

19

17

8

Chilton, Max (R)

D/C/C/F

01:07.9550

121.845

0.7393

0.1443

14

16

18

18

Daly, Conor (R)

D/H/H/F

01:08.0137

121.740

0.7980

0.0587

18

20

19

19

Filippi, Luca

D/H/H/F

01:08.1331

121.527

0.9174

0.1194

15

15

20

83

Kimball, Charlie

D/C/C/F

01:08.3100

121.212

1.0943

0.1769

9

21

21

98

Rossi, Alexander (R)

D/H/H/F

01:08.6727

120.572

1.4570

0.3627

24

29

(R) Rookie

(C)hassis: D=Dallara | (A)erokit: C=Chevy, H=Honda | (E)ngine: C=Chevy, H=Honda | (T)ire: F=Firestone

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