Our second practice at the 5th Annual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama was less eventful than the first, in regards to incidents, but the five fastest laps switched around up until the very end. At the checkered, the drivers lined up as such: Ryan Hunter-Reay, Sebastien Bourdais, Will Power, James Hinchcliffe & Helio Castroneves.
In a post-practice conference, Hunter-Reay fielded questions about the accident that took him, Sarah Fisher Hartman driver, Josef Newgarden and fellow Andretti Autosport teammate, James Hinchcliffe out of the race at a time they were running 1-2-3. “It’s racing, it’s over .We’re all good on it.” He went on to say that he & Josef did speak about it and were okay, as were the race stewards who considered it a racing incident. Hunter-Reay explained that he is not the kind of driver to settle for 2nd place and if there is an opportunity to race hard for a win, he’s taking it. You have to respect that – he’s didn’t become the IndyCar Series Champion in 2012 by playing it safe. He will undoubtedly be a top contender for the P1 position today, having dominated both practices on Friday and earning pole & the victory here at Barber last year.
Sebastien Bourdais continues to push forward and came in with an impressive 2nd fastest lap at the conclusion of yesterday’s afternoon practice. He discussed the differences between practicing at Barber this past off-season & the practice sessions today. The difference in temperature (roughly 25-30 degrees hotter now) creates a completely different experience. He knows that he & his team have a good car and things are really coming together, however in regards to his racing style, he commented, “I’ve never been known as a ‘cold-blooded driver’… that has served me more than it has hurt me.” He seems very focused on having a safe and solid race this weekend, with hopes of producing a win.
Team Penske driver, Will Power, has always been a contender here at Barber. In the first three years of the event, he either started or finished first. Last year he started 2nd but did not podium, ending in P5. He had the 3rd fastest time in the second practice on Friday, and placed 4th fastest over both sessions.
James Hinchcliffe, having been cleared by the IndyCar Medical Director after his accident in Long Beach left him with a hand/wrist injury, found himself landing the 4th fastest lap during the second session. He came in 5th when combining times from both Friday practices – a decent place to be with qualifying slated for 2pm (CST) today. Hinch spent a good portion of last year’s Honda Indy Grand Prix off to the side of a track, unable to be towed back into the pits – he joked later about taking a nap to pass the time & attempting to have a pizza delivered to him in the disabled DW12. Let’s hope that he gets to be a more substantial part of the action tomorrow when the Verizon IndyCar Series races again in Alabama.
Although Helio Castroneves completed the afternoon practice with the 5th fastest lap and the morning practice in 3rd – he just missed the Top 5 of the day since Josef Newgarden was 3rd quickest overall. Helio was on the move all day long, spotted in the pits & paddock on a kick-push razor scooter as his mode of transport this weekend in Alabama, rather than the usual motor scooter. He seemed to be enjoying himself thoroughly and it’s definitely a more “green” choice for the race weekend! I have to be honest though, I would really like to see Helio & Takuma Sato (who’s been rockin’ a razor since St. Pete’s) race through the paddock on those things… talk about pre-race entertainment!
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