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Andretti Shines At Barber

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, April 22 2017

Marco Andretti topped the time sheets during IndyCar practice at Barber Motorsports Park on Friday. (Photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

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Marco Andretti re-introduced himself to the top of the Verizon IndyCar Series speed chart Friday, recording the fastest practice lap for Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by America’s First.

Andretti, driver of the No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda, toured Barber Motorsports Park’s 2.3-mile/17-turn permanent road-course in 1-minute, 7.7134-seconds at 122.280 mph to top the combined speed chart from a pair of practice sessions. Two-time Barber race-winner Will Power of Team Penske was second at 1:07.7454-seconds/122.222 mph.

Andretti’s last win and second of his career was scored in June 2011 at Iowa Speedway_ 95 races ago. The 30-year-old, third-generation Indy car driver acknowledged that while Friday’s results meant little, he likes where he stands heading into Verizon P1 Award knockout qualifying Saturday.

“It’s very important to qualify well here, so I’m pleased that we have the pace to hopefully be able to do that,” Andretti said. “But yeah, so far, so good. We just need to replicate it (Saturday).”

A third 45-minute practice remains at noon (EDT) Saturday, ahead of knockout qualifying starting at 4:15 p.m. NBC Sports Network’s coverage will start at 4:30. Live coverage of the 90-lap race begins at 3 p.m. (EDT) Sunday on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Sunday’s race will be the eighth Verizon IndyCar Series event conducted at the facility in Birmingham, Ala., and third of 17 races on this year’s schedule.

Andretti has collected four pole positions to-date, with the most recent 60 starts ago at Pocono Raceway in July 2013. The key to securing pole Saturday?

“I think it’s just going to be about maximizing when it counts, you know?” Andretti said. “It’s going to be doing it on that lap and putting all my sectors together, and (I’ve) got to do it three times, three rounds (in qualifying). That’s going to be the plan. It just seems we have a pretty good car. It’s just going to come down to whether I can put it together.”

Power, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet, led a trio of Team Penske drivers who finished the day second through fourth fastest. The 2011 and ’12 Barber winner was followed by defending race and reigning series champion Simon Pagenaud in the No. 1 Menards Chevrolet (1:07.8305) and 2010 Barber winner Helio Castroneves in the No. 3 AAA Insurance Chevrolet (1:07.9044).

“It’s just a track that I like,” said Power, who also claimed pole position at the track in 2010, ’11 and ’14. “You want to be competitive everywhere; I think with Penske we are. You have a chance to win everywhere, but yeah, I enjoy this place.”

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, April 22 2017
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