Honda Racing–Pagenaud Leads Honda Effort in Practice for Grand Prix of Indianapolis

• Honda drivers claim seven of top 10 positions in practice
• Rookie Aleshin, veterans Hinchcliffe, Rahal and Hunter-Reay quick for Honda

Verizon IndyCar Series practice began Thursday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for Saturday’s inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis, with Honda-powered Simon Pagenaud posting the second-fastest time around the 2.439-mile road course laid out inside the grounds of the famed 2.5-mile oval.

Times fell throughout the day as drivers and teams learned more about the newest layout on the IndyCar circuit, a revision of the road course previously used by Formula One, sports cars and MotoGP.  Scott Dixon bettered Pagenaud in the final minutes of the afternoon practice to claim top honors for the day, while Mikhail Aleshin led the five rookies in the field, posting the fifth-fastest time in his Schmidt Peterson Honda. 

A quartet of Honda-powered veterans rounded out the top ten, led by James Hinchcliffe in sixth, and followed by Graham Rahal, Barber race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, Justin Wilson and Marco Andretti, seventh through tenth, respectively.  Activities continue Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedwaywith a final practice session, followed by Firestone Fast Six qualifying that will set the 25-car field for Saturday’s 82-lap race.  The fourth round of the 2014 season starts at 3 p.m. EDT Saturday, with live television coverage on ABC.

Simon Pagenaud(#77 DHL Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda) 2nd-quickest in Thursday practice:  “This is a very nice track.  It’s flowing, has good rhythm and – best of all – it’s in Indy!  It’s also definitely the smoothest road course we race on, so congratulations to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a job well done.  The track also will be a great one for passing.  I think the start and every restart should be exciting on Saturday.”