Simon Pagenaud set fastest time in the first practice session of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season, but Penske-Chevrolet teammate Will Power caused the first red flag.
Pagenaud laid down a 1min01.7246sec, an average speed of 104.982mph to head Jack Hawksworth, who spearheaded a strong showing for AJ Foyt Racing-Honda. Just 0.0624sec behind Pagenaud, third-year driver Hawksworth led his teammate and former St. Pete polesitter Takuma Sato by 0.02sec, with Penske’s Helio Castroneves splitting the pair.
2014 champion Power, who has taken five pole positions and two wins at this track, lost control at Turn 9 on his fifth lap while adjusting his brake bias, and struck the outside wall hard. He was uninjured.
P5 went to the leading Andretti Autosport-Honda of Ryan Hunter-Reay, just under a tenth ahead of reigning champion Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan of Chip Ganassi Racing-Chevrolet.
Luca Filippi was 16th fastest in his first practice session for Dale Coyne Racing-Honda, while series returnee Mikhail Aleshin of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports was 21st.
Rookies Alexander Rossi (Andretti), Spencer Pigot (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda), Conor Daly (Coyne) and Max Chilton (Ganassi) were 18th, 19th, 20th and 22nd respectively.
First practice results:
|1||22||Simon Pagenaud||Penske Chevrolet||1:01.7246|
|2||41||Jack Hawksworth|| Foyt Honda
|3||3||Helio Castroneves|| Penske Chevrolet
|4||14||Takuma Sato||Foyt Honda||0.1165|
|5||28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Honda||0.1488|
|6||9||Scott Dixon||Ganassi Chevrolet||0.2376|
|7||10||Tony Kanaan||Ganassi Chevrolet||0.2721|
|8||2||Juan Pablo Montoya||Penske Chevrolet||0.3718|
|9||83||Charlie Kimball||Ganassi Chevrolet||0.4225|
|10||26||Carlos Munoz||Andretti Honda||0.4300|
|11||27||Marco Andretti||Andretti Honda||0.4335|
|12||11||Sebastien Bourdais||KVSH Chevrolet||0.4375|
|13||5||James Hinchcliffe||Schmidt/Peterson Honda||0.4592|
|14||21||Josef Newgarden||Carpenter Chevrolet||0.5120|
|15||15||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda||0.5169|
|16||19||Luca Filippi||Coyne Honda||0.5635|
|17||12||Will Power||Penske Chevrolet||0.7105|
|18||98||Alexander Rossi||Andretti/Herta Honda||0.8651|
|19||16||Spencer Pigot||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda||1.1108|
|20||18||Conor Daly||Coyne Honda||1.2023|
|21||7||Mikhail Aleshin||Schmidt/Peterson Honda||1.5562|
|22||8||Max Chilton||Ganassi Chevrolet||1.6562|