Sato Heads Honda 1-2 as 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series Opens in St. Petersburg

The 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series opened Friday on the downtown harborfront streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, with a pair of practice sessions topped by Honda-powered drivers.

A.J. Foyt Racing’s Takuma Sato posted the fastest time of the afternoon, and overall for the day, with a best lap of 1:02.5615 [103.578 mph] around the 1.8-mile temporary street circuit, after running third-quickest in the morning session.Officially sporting National Guard colors for the first time, Graham Rahal ran second quickest in the afternoon and for the day, as Honda drivers claimed five of the top seven positions overall.

In the slightly slower morning session, Honda drivers ran 1-2-3, led by defending race winner James Hinchcliffe for Andretti Autosport, followed by Dale Coyne Racing’s Justin Wilson and Sato. 

Activities continue Saturday with a final practice session, followed by Firestone Fast Six qualifying that will set the 22-car field for Sunday’s 110-lap race.  The opening round in the 18-race 2014 season starts at 3 p.m. Sunday, with live television coverage on ABC.

Takuma Sato(#14 ABC Building Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Honda) quickest in Friday practice:  “I am very excited to be back in St. Petersburg and to be back on track after the long off-season.  The conditions [overcast and scattered light rain]were not very representative of the usual St. Petersburg weather, but still the car worked really well and we made good progress today.  Let’s hope this continues as we go into qualifying [on Saturday]”