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Andretti on top in Iowa in practice 1

Marco Andretti set the pace early on during the Friday morning practice session, with Josef Newgarden and Alex Tagliani the next fastest men on track.
Andretti Autosport's Marco Andretti was fast right from the beginning of the first 45-minute practice session at Iowa Speedway, ultimately topping the timesheets with a lap of 17.4126s (184.832mph).

That put him 0.0332s ahead of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing rookie Josef Newgarden, with Alex Tagliani and Ryan Briscoe close behind and within seven hundredths of a second of Andretti's best time on the 0.875-mile asphalt tri-oval.

The top 20 drivers were all running faster than 2011 pole speed, which was 180.373mph. The gap between first and 24th was only 0.6682s, with only HVM's Simona de Silvestro falling outside the one second margin.

There were no issues or red flags during the 45-minute session, although Scott Dixon lost time in practice with a suspected fuel pump pressure issue. The Ganassi team seemed content that the problem had been resolved and Dixon was able to set the fifth fastest time of the morning.

Practice 1 is the only time the teams have this weekend to run set-up tests without having to worry about qualifying. In a late tweak to the experimental 'heats' format for Iowa that will set the starting grid for Saturday night's race, IndyCar decided not to include practice 1 times in establishing the groups for this evening's three heat races, and will instead take the order at the end of the second 45-minute practice session later today.

The first of the three 30-lap qualifying heats will consist of those cars from tenth position down in the even number positions at the end of practice 2; the order at the end of the 30-lap heat race then sets positions tenth, 12th, 14th etc on the grid for the Iowa Corn Indy 250.

The second heat will consist of those cars in the odd-numbered positions in practice 2 from ninth place down with the order finalising those positions (ninth, 11th, 13th, etc.) on the starting grid., and the third heat will consist of the remaining top eight cars from the practice sessions, and the order at the end of the 30-laps will set the front four rows of the grid for the main race itself.

Earlier in the week, it was confirmed that KV Racing Technology duo Tony Kanaan and EJ Viso would have ten-place starting grid penalties for Iowa wherever they end up qualifying under the one-off system, after both cars needed new Chevrolet engines following last eekend at Milwaukee.

IndyCar has also further modified the aerodynamic rules for Iowa, imposing a maximum rear flap angle of 37 degrees and mandating that no rear wickers or gurney flaps are allowed, which will reduce available downforce by almost a tenth.

Race control have also modified their own internal procedures following the embarrassing gaffe wrongly penalising Scott Dixon last weekend: in future, special camera footage of the starter will be used to synchronise replay footage to ensure there are no further synchronisation issues and that it's clear when a restart has proceeded.

Full practice 1 times available.



Related Pictures

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Marco Andretti #26 Team RC Cola Andretti Autosport during practice for the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500. 12-27 May, 2012, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. (c) 2012 Dan R. Boyd, LAT Photo USA (Photo credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA)
Marco Andretti. (c) 2012, Michael L. Levitt, LAT Photo USA (Photo credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA)
Ryan Hunter-Reay waits on pitlane prior to practice at Pocono Raceway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Justin Wilson exits Turn 2 during practice for the Pocono INDYCAR 500 at Pocono Raceway (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves heads down the Long Pond Straightaway during practice for the Pocono INDYCAR 500 at Pocono Raceway (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya streaks down the frontstretch during practice at Pocono Raceway (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya heads toward Turn 1 during practice at Pocono Raceway (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal on the frontstretch during practice at Pocono Raceway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Jack Hawksworth and Marco Andretti cross the start/finish line during practice at Pocono Raceway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves waits to go out on track for Practice 1. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Carlos Huertas in Practice 2. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud on track in Practice 2. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud on track in Practice 2. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud gets ready to head out for Practice 2. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud prepares for practice. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Luca Filippi prepares to get in his car for Practice 1. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power prepares to go out in Practice 1. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power on track in Practice 1. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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