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Houston IndyCar: Simon Pagenaud tops red flag-strewn practice


Simon Pagenaud finished the opening day of practice for this weekend's IndyCar double-header in Houston on top.

The Frenchman consistently lowered his time through the second session before settling on a fastest lap of 1m00.1415s.

Pagenaud moved into P1 with a little over half an hour still to run and chipped away at his own benchmark to ultimately reduce his fastest lap by almost 0.7 seconds, keeping him clear of all of his rivals.

Ryan Briscoe came closest and the Ganassi driver made a late improvement that still left him 0.5s down on Pagenaud, while Luca Filippi wasted no time in clearing the rust from his 10-month break by finishing up third-fastest.

A trip into the wall in the final minute by Jack Hawksworth forced the session to end under red flags and gave his Bryan Herta Autosport team a little additional work to do ahead of the first qualifying session and race on Saturday.

His crash caused the final of three stoppages during the afternoon, with the first having come when Mikhail Aleshin spun and stalled and the second when Tony Kanaan took too much of the kerbing at Turns 1 and 2 with similar results.

The session was capped by a 10-minute standing start rehearsal, in which the drivers were sent out in small groups to make simulated starts in the hopes of avoiding the chaos that marred the start of the race on the Indianapolis road course.

All cars managed to launch successfully.

Pos  Driver              Team/Engine      Time        Gap     
 1.  Simon Pagenaud      Schmidt/Honda    1m00.1425s          
 2.  Ryan Briscoe        Ganassi/Chevy    1m00.6428s  +0.5013s
 3.  Luca Filippi        Rahal/Honda      1m00.6735s  +0.5320s
 4.  Helio Castroneves   Penske/Chevy     1m00.6905s  +0.5490s
 5.  Mikhail Aleshin     Schmidt/Honda    1m00.7031s  +0.5616s
 6.  James Hinchcliffe   Andretti/Honda   1m00.7577s  +0.6162s
 7.  Takuma Sato         Foyt/Honda       1m00.7610s  +0.6195s
 8.  Scott Dixon         Ganassi/Chevy    1m00.8632s  +0.7217s
 9.  Will Power          Penske/Chevy     1m00.8662s  +0.7247s
10.  Ryan Hunter-Reay    Andretti/Honda   1m00.9854s  +0.8439s
11.  Graham Rahal        Rahal/Honda      1m00.9989s  +0.8574s
12.  Carlos Munoz        Andretti/Honda   1m01.1412s  +0.9997s
13.  Tony Kanaan         Ganassi/Chevy    1m01.1887s  +1.0472s
14.  Marco Andretti      Andretti/Honda   1m01.1977s  +1.0562s
15.  Charlie Kimball     Ganassi/Chevy    1m01.2047s  +1.0632s
16.  Juan Pablo Montoya  Penske/Chevy     1m01.2273s  +1.0858s
17.  Carlos Huertas      Coyne/Honda      1m01.3479s  +1.2064s
18.  Josef Newgarden     Fisher/Honda     1m01.4330s  +1.2915s
19.  Sebastien Bourdais  KV/Chevy         1m01.5395s  +1.3980s
20.  Jack Hawksworth     Herta/Honda      1m01.5678s  +1.4263s
21.  Justin Wilson       Coyne/Honda      1m01.6742s  +1.5327s
22.  Sebastian Saavedra  KV/Chevy         1m02.1167s  +1.9752s
23.  Mike Conway         Carpenter/Chevy  1m02.2192s  +2.0777s

All drivers use Dallara chassis

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