Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay was narrowly ahead at the end of the first 45 minute practice session at Sonoma Raceway on Friday morning, after posting a lap of 1:18.6814s during the 45 minute session. That was just 0.0162s ahead of Penske's Helio Castroneves, while Dario Franchitti - who topped the times in the mid-week open test attended by all 25 drivers on Wednesday - was third fastest on the 2.385-mile, 12-turn road course.

"We're working so hard to close the gap to the championship points lead so we're looking to make big gains this weekend," said Hunter-Reay, who hasn't finished better than eighth place at Sonoma in the past.

There were no significant incidents, although there was a three minute red flag midway through the session after a tyre became dislodged at turn 9 and needed to be retrieved. Ryan Briscoe has a minor scare ten minutes into the session when he reported hitting a kerb hard in the #4 Panther Racing car and decided to return to the pits for a checkover, but he was soon back out on track and continuing his programme.

Lynne Huntting of reports from trackside that the sun came full out well before the start of the session and that the temperatures climbed to the low sixties Fahrenheit with a desultory breeze. Some of the drivers turned just a few laps and quickly pitted in line with a wait-and-see tactic, while Dragon's Sebastian Saavedra ran the most laps with 17 in the books by the chequered flag.

Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing's IndyCar rookie Lucas Luhr tested his limits in the #97 car with a harmless spin in turn seven, which Brembo Brakes calculates is the most difficult corner at Sonoma Raceway for IndyCars compared with NASCAR which views turn 11 as the hardest corner in the Sprint Cup configuration of the track. Luhr went on to run eleven laps and finished last for the session of the 25 cars.

There's a further 45 minute practice session on Friday afternoon and a third on Saturday morning before qualifying in the afternoon for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. A half-hour warm-up on Sunday morning precedes the race itself which gets underway at around 1.45pm California time (9.45pm BST)

Practice 1 times

1. #1 Ryan Hunter-Reay (C) 109.124mph 1:18.6814s (6 laps)
2. #3 Helio Castroneves (C) 109.101mph 1:18.6976s + 0.0162s (7 laps)
3. #10 Dario Franchitti (H) 108.942mph 1:18.8124s + 0.1310s (7 laps)
4. #25 Marco Andretti (C) 108.719mph 1:18.9740s + 0.2926s (5 laps)
5. #4 Ryan Briscoe (C) 108.659mph 1:19.0182s + 0.3368s (12 laps)
6. #19 Justin Wilson (H) 108.640mph 1:19.0318s + 0.3504s (12 laps)
7. #7 Sebastien Bourdais (C) 108.569mph 1:19.0834s + 0.4020s (8 laps)
8. #5 EJ Viso (C) 108.549mph 1:19.0976s + 0.4162s (7 laps)
9. #98 JR Hildebrand (H) 108.468mph 1:19.1567s + 0.4753s (15 laps)
10. #27 James Hinchcliffe (C) 108.413mph 1:19.1968s + 0.5154s (10 laps)
11. #67 Josef Newgarden (H) 108.218mph 1:19.3398s + 0.6584s (8 laps)
12. #12 Will Power (C) 108.100mph 1:19.4268s + 0.7454s (8 laps)
13. #15 Graham Rahal (H) 108.007mph 1:19.4952s + 0.8138s (14 laps)
14. #16 James Jakes (H) 108.003mph 1:19.4977s + 0.8163s (11 laps)
15. #9 Scott Dixon (H) 107.999mph 1:19.5009s + 0.8195s (7 laps)
16. #55 Tristan Vautier (H) 107.920mph 1:19.5590s + 0.8776s (12 laps)
17. #6 Sebastian Saavedra (C) 107.866mph 1:19.5990s + 0.9176s (17 laps)
18. #78 Simona De Silvestro (C) 107.862mph 1:19.6014s + 0.9200s (12 laps)
19. #18 James Davison (H) 107.645mph 1:19.7624s + 1.0810s (14 laps)
20. #11 Tony Kanaan (C) 107.466mph 1:19.8950s + 1.2136s (10 laps)
21. #14 Takuma Sato (H) 107.415mph 1:19.9330s + 1.2516s (12 laps)
22. #77 Simon Pagenaud (H) 107.304mph 1:20.0155s + 1.3341s (11 laps)
23. #83 Charlie Kimball (H) 107.046mph 1:20.2088s + 1.5274s (10 laps)
24. #20 Ed Carpenter (C) 107.020mph 1:20.2279s + 1.5465s (13 laps)
25. #97 Lucas Luhr (H) 106.087mph 1:20.9336s + 2.2522s (11 laps)

Total Laps: 259


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