Following the two-day test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last week, IndyCar was oozing with anticipation with the Month of May just around the corner. As much as everyone would like to look ahead to the most magical month of the year, there is still some business to take care of before that takes center stage.

The month of May actually begins this weekend with a race around the scenic 2.3-mile road course at Barber Motorsports Park. This is the 12th time that the series will host a race on the 17-turn circuit in Birmingham, Alabama. Drivers had an hour of practice time today to dial in their cars ahead of Sunday's Grand Prix.

Andretti Autosport owned the day as Colton Herta led the practice session with a best lap of 66.514 seconds in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda. His teammates Alexander Rossi and Romain Grosjean finished 3rd and 4th with defending Barber race winner Alex Palou right behind Herta in 2nd. It was a banner day for the team, who may have been aided by their test here earlier this year.

“I was really happy with how the car was,” Herta said. “We were one of the lucky ones that got to test here recently, so we did a lot of stuff on that day to help us prepare for this weekend, and it showed. We came in here and rolled off the truck, and the car was really nice right away.”

The Andretti team seems to have this place figured out, but there will be plenty of time for other teams and drivers to fine tune their machines. One of those teams is Penske, who have won the first three races of the season. Scott McLaughlin, who won the season-opening race at St Petersburg, was 5th fastest today but his teammates were at the other end of the speed chart.

Scott Dixon was 6th fastest today, which should surprise no one. The Ganassi driver has been extraordinary at Barber, with nine podium finishes in his 11 starts. Dixon is the only driver to finish inside the top ten in all 11 races, and the only driver to complete every single lap. Even more surprising, he has never won this race, never started on the front row, and has only led a total of 46 laps.

Pato O'Ward was 7th quick today to lead the way for the Arrow McLaren SP team. Right behind him in 8th was Juncos Hollinger Racing driver Callum Ilott, who had an impressive afternoon in his No. 77 Chevrolet. Marcus Ericsson and Rinus VeeKay rounded out the top ten drivers on Friday.

Will Power (16th), Graham Rahal (17th), Josef Newgarden (18th), and Simon Pagenaud (21st) will all have some work to do tomorrow. Every team is trying to get a handle on the new Firestone tire this weekend on top of everything else. There were 459 laps turned during the incident free session.

Teams will have another one-hour practice session tomorrow morning before qualifying, which begins at 1 PM ET. O'Ward earned pole position here last year, while Palou won the 90-lap race. The permanent road course has natural flowing turns and features 80 feet of elevation change that challenge drivers and engineers. A 45-foot-wide racing ribbon also makes it imperative for patience while setting up overtaking opportunities.

There are a few drivers to keep a close eye on this weekend. One of those is Newgarden, who has been on a tear this season. The Team Penske driver has three wins at Barber, with 133 laps led. His crash on the opening lap last year certainly left a bad taste in his mouth. Before that though, his last five finishes here were 1st, 3rd, 1st, 1st, and 4th. A win on Sunday would also earn Newgarden a cool $1 million bonus for the PeopleReady For Good Challenge.

Another driver to watch will be Newgarden's teammate, Power. The veteran finished runner-up in last year's race and finished inside the top five in his first seven starts here, including wins in 2011 and 2012. Power's 212 laps led are the most by any driver by a wide margin. He also has started on the front row in eight of the 11 races here.

One other statistic to keep in mind this weekend will be where the drivers line up after Saturday's qualifying session. Five of the 11 races at Barber have been won from pole position. Eight of the 11 have been won by a driver starting either 1st or 3rd.

O'Ward recently signed a contract extension with Arrow McLaren SP, according to multiple reports. The young driver is eager to get back to a place where he had success last year. "I love Barber. It’s one of my favorite racetracks because it’s a very high commitment track. I’ve always said it’s one of the most beautiful and well taken care of facilities I’ve ever been too. It’s always a great turnout. Looking forward to continuing on the momentum we have built and getting some great points for our championship."

Andretti has not won at Barber since 2014 but the team is optimistic heading into the weekend. "It's a fun track to drive," said Herta. "IndyCar always puts on a good show." Grosjean agreed with his teammate. "Barber is where I made my debut. It’s a very fast-flowing track. We had a good test session there and we will keep working on our car to extract the maximum out of it."