BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Defending champion Josef Newgarden turned in the fastest practice lap at Barber Motorsports Park.
Newgarden's time of 1 minute, 7.4345 seconds in Friday's practice sessions gave him an edge over Spencer Pigot's 1:07.5372 and Will Power (1:07.5987). Sebastien Bourdais and Alexander Rossi rounded out the top five heading into Saturday's qualifying for the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.
Power started on the pole for the fourth time last year at the 2.3-mile, 17-turn road course. He and Team Penske teammate Newgarden have each won twice at Barber.
A number of drivers spent time in the gravel pit at Turn 5, including Newgarden. He said a tailwind made the turn "very difficult."
Pigot is hoping the strong start signals a turnaround. He hasn't finished better than 14th in the first three races.