By: Tanner Watkins
April 5, 2019 | 12:00 PM
Drivers of the NTT IndyCar Series were certainly challenged during this morning’s 45-minute opening practice for the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama.
Barber Motorsports Park, which saw rain overnight and into the morning, presented veterans and newcomers alike with varying grip levels that produced three red flag periods in the short session.
Nonetheless, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist led the way as the rookie posted the quickest lap time of the morning a 1m9.2296s.
Rosenqvist was the first of six consecutive Honda drivers at the top of the timesheet, leading Sebastien Bourdais (P2, 1m9.2750s), James Hinchcliffe (P3, 1m9.3276s), Scott Dixon (P4, 1m9.4373s), Ryan Hunter-Reay (P5, 1m9.4452s) and defending IndyCar Series race winner Colton Herta (P6, 1m.4987).
Best in class for Chevrolet was rookie Patricio O’Ward, driving for Carlin. The No. 31 machine was seventh-quick with a best lap time of 1m9.5007s, and the entire top 16 drivers were separated by less than a second.
As we mentioned above, sporadic green flag runs were hard to come by in between the three red flag periods. This saw traditional Barber favorites Will Power (P12, 1m9.9440s) and Josef Newgarden (P14, 1m10.1168s) sitting outside the top-10 despite their likely speed. Look for the two former winners to rise up the charts this afternoon and in tomorrow’s qualifying session if the weather holds steady.
The three caution periods were brought out by A.J. Foyt Racing’s Matheus Leist and Tony Kanaan, as well as Ed Carpenter Racing’s Spencer Pigot.
Leist’s accident came with significant contact to the retaining wall near Turn 8 while Kanaan’s spin out of the exit of Turn 17 came to a rest safely on the frontstretch. Pigot’s mistake also came in Turn 17 as he slid into the gravel trap, which will certainly generate a little vacuuming time for his No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing team.
Second practice for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama rolls off this afternoon at 3:50 p.m. Eastern. The practice will be available on the NBC Sports Gold INDYCAR package as well as via the IndyCar Radio Network. Timing and scoring can be found at RaceControl.IndyCar.com.
Header image by Chris Owens/INDYCAR.