CLICK: Full practice 1 times from Milwaukee
James Hinchcliffe got Andretti Autosport off to a strong start at the Milwaukee Mile on Saturday morning as he posted the best laptime of the one-hour morning practice session getting track activity underway for this weekend's ABC Supply Wisconsin 250.
Hinchcliffe pipped Ganassi's Ryan Briscoe to the top by just 0.0136s, while his team mate and defending race champion Ryan Hunter-Reay was just a fraction back in third place ahead of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing's Josef Newgarden.
Emphasising how close the competition was, all 22 drivers were running within a whisker of eight tenths of a second in the session. All but one of the cars ran at speeds in excess of 160mph on the one-mile oval, but Briscoe reckoned that speeds would pick up significantly as the weekend progresses.
"It was pretty green this morning. As rubber goes down the track will get quicker," said Briscoe, who was joined in the top six by his team mates Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon in a positive session for the team. "Qualifying this evening will be pretty fast."
Hinchcliffe set down his fastest lap early in the session, which was true of a majority of the drivers, who opted not to husband their available sets of tyres for the rest of the weekend which meant that few drivers improved their times after their first half dozen laps out on the track.
The practice session saw only two brief stoppages - the first for a track inspection and clean-up, and the second a brief yellow to retrieve the car of a third member of the Andretti contingent, Carlos Munoz, who suffered from voltage problems in the #34.
This is the first of three back-to-back race weekends leading to the climax of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana on August 30, meaning that the focus is very much on the title battle between Will Power, Helio Castroneves, Hunter-Reay and Simon Paganeud.
The Penske paid of Power and Castroneves both missed the top ten in first practice, finishing in 11th and 14th place respectively and outshone by their team mate Juan Pablo Montoya who was seventh fastest in the session. Pagenaud was similarly outdone by his Schmidt Peterson Motorsport team mate Mikhail Aleshin as the Russian managed the ninth fastest time putting him one spot ahead of Pagenaud.
The drivers will be able to work on their set-ups in a second one-hour practice session on Saturday afternoon at 1.30pm local time (7.30pm BST), before qualifying consisting of single-car two-lap time trials which is scheduled for 5pm (11pm BST).
The ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 itself gets underway on Sunday afternoon at 2.45pm (8.45pm BST) and the race will be shown live in the UK on ESPN.
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