Honda Racing–Pagenaud, Honda Lead Houston Practice

• Rookies Luca Filippi and Mikhail Aleshin post top-five times

• Honda drivers claim five of top eight positions in practice

As in Detroit earlier this month, Honda-powered Simon Pagenaud led the field in Verizon IndyCar Series practice Friday for the Shell & Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston, Presented by the Greater Houston Honda Dealers.  Pagenaud paced the second, and quicker, of the day’s two practice sessions after posting the second-fastest time in the morning.

Honda drivers claimed five of the top eight positions, with series returnee Luca Filippi fourth on the day for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Pagenaud’s Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammate, Mikhail Aleshin, sixth overall.  James Hinchcliffe placed seventh for Andretti Autosport with Takuma Sato eighth fastest for A.J. Foyt Racing.

Activities continue Saturday in Houston with qualifying and the first of this weekend’s two 90-lap races.  The ninth and tenth rounds of the 18-race 2014 season start at 3 p.m. EDT Saturday and Sunday, respectively, with live television coverage of both races on the NBC Sports Network.

Simon Pagenaud(#77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda) quickest in Friday practice:  “The Oculus car was really orange, and really fast today. I’m feeling very confident because we unloaded fast and we’ve made minimal changes through the day. It’s fun to drive a fast car, and the Honda power is strong here. The track is very improved this year. We just need to keep up with the track as it changes, since the car was pretty much perfect today. If we’re good tomorrow on the Firestone Red tires, we should be in good shape.”