Veteran Alex Tagliani and rookie Tristan Vautier led a strong Honda-powered field in opening IZOD IndyCar Series practice Friday at Barber Motorsports Park, in preparation for Sunday’s Honda Grand Prix of Alabama, the second round of the 19-race 2013 championship.

Tagliani took his Barracuda Racing/Bryan Herta Autosport Honda Dallara to a best lap of 1:08.6288 around the scenic 2.3-mile road course located just outside of Birmingham, heading the time sheets in the second of two IZOD IndyCar Series practice sessions, until he was edged out of the top spot by Helio Castroneves.

Alex Tagliani, Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Honda
Alex Tagliani, Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Honda

Photo by: Jay Alley

Driving for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, Vautier led the morning session and finished third overall, just ahead of his teammate, Simon Pagenaud, as Honda-powered drivers claimed four of the top six positions on the speed chart.

Action at Barber Motorsports Park continues Saturday with a final practice, followed by “Fast Six” knockout qualifying. Sunday’s 90-lap Honda Grand Prix of Alabama starts at 3:30 p.m. EDT, with live television coverage on the NBC Sports Network.

Alex Tagliani (Driver, #98 Barracuda Racing/Bryan Herta Autosport Honda Dallara) second-fastest in practice Friday for the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama: "I’m pretty proud of what the team has accomplished here so far this weekend. We struggled with the new [compound for 2013] tires at the Open Test here last month and at the [season-opening] St. Petersburg [race]. But now, we’re back where we belong. Honda has done a fantastic job as well; there are a lot of Honda-powered teams at the front today. Once we switched to Honda last year, we became a regular top-six qualifier, and that’s our goal for tomorrow: qualify and start the race up front.”

Honda Racing