CONWAY SURPRISED WINNER

Ed Conway

MIKE CONWAY/No.20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet won the Verizon IndyCar Series race at the Toyota 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Sunday, in a surprise finish. Then leader SCOTT DIXON/No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet ran out of gas, not unexpectedly as his team warned him he’d be short. He was – half a lap.

It was a hard-won victory with lots of action and situations. It was a race of attrition, with the survivors finishing.

Finishing second and third were WILL POWER/No.12 Team Penske Racing and Rookie CARLOS MUNOZ/No.34 Andretti Autosport Honda. JUAN PABLO MONTOYA/No.2 Team Penske Chevrolet and SIMON PAGENAUD/No.77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda were fourth and fifth.

It looked like Pole sitter RYAN HUNTER-REAY/No.28 Andretti Autosport Honda would win the race, until he was involved in a incident with then-leader JOSEF NEWGARDEN/No.67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda. RHR’s left front hit the right rear of Newgarden, wrecking them both into the wall. RHR had already receiving two bonus points for leading the most laps.

Also taken out in the accident were JAMES HINCHCLIFFE/No.27 Andretti Autosport Honda, TONY KANAAN/No.10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, Rookie JACK HAWKSWORTH/No.98 BHA BMM with Curb Agajanian, and TAKUMA SATO/No.14 AJ Foyt Enterprises Honda, caught out with no place to go. SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA/No.17 KVAFS Racing Chevrolet drove through the incident, perhaps sustaining a broken finger from the debris. He also received a stop and go penalty for overdriving the incident.

Team owner, SARAH FISHER said “Josef is a helluva driver, and we’re behind him one hundred percent.” Team owner, MICHAEL ANDRETTI, who lost two top cars in the incident, said “It’s frustrating. You have to be more patient.” RHR said “A racing driver in the moment going for it. It was my shot to win the race.” Newgarden said “I tried to give him room, and the next thing I was in the wall. That shouldn’t happen up front. “Kanaan said “I had nothing to do with it. Mario told me to be cautious. Basically, whoever started it ….” Dixon said It was some exciting race, but I was half a lap short.” JPM got through the wreckage, saying “I saw the yellow, I backed off, clutch, turn, brake, and tried to avoid it.”

Hinchcliffe sustained a sprained left thumb in the incident, and will be re-evaluated before his next race.

More to follow.

GOOD MORNING , LONG BEACH!

TGPLB 40 LOGO

The weather was cloudy for the start of the day at the 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. First out The Pirelli World Challenge Series car had their fifteen-minute warm up and then had the rest of the day off until its 4:30pm race. Next up was the half-hour warmup for Verizon IndyCars, and then the opening ceremonies for the hour-long race for Indy Lights Series presented by Cooper.

The fastest PWC drivers were: GT-ANTHONY LAZZARO/No.61 Ferrari Motorsports 458 Italia GTS;GT GTS-LAWSON ASHENBACH/No.1 Blackdog Racing Chevrolet Camaro; and GT-A – NICK MANCUSO/No.16 Ferrari Motorsports 458 Italia GT3.

JOSEF NEWGARDEN/No.67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda was fastest IndyCar at 1;08.3447. The ambient temperature was 59 degrees F, with track temperature at 69F. All 23 cars were out. Times weren’t important, as the teams were practicing pit stops and scuffing tires. JUSTIN WILSON/No.19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda was the only car seemingly with a problem. He only turned one lap while the crew beavered away.

Justin Wilson

Dale Coyne

Justin Wilson's Car

Meanwhile all around the track various activities were taking place, including the traditional Ugly Hawaiian Shirt Contest in Grandstand 31, lots of interactive displays and exhibits in the Convention Center, Arena and Exhibition Hall.

Something for everyone. What’s not to like.

Will Power

Tony Kanaan

Takumo Sato

Stefan Johansson

Tony George

Arie Luyendyk

Mike Conway

Mikhail Aleshin

Jack Hawksworth

OLD GUYS RULE

SCOTT PRUETT/No.01 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford Riley DP won overall and in class for Saturday’s TUDOR United Sports Car Championship Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase, as part of the 40th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. He and teammate MEMO ROJAS of Mexico led all but one lap, when they pitted. Their Margin of Victory was 0.759 seconds, and for the most part, they were never more than two seconds ahead of the second-place drivers. It was the sixteenth victory for team owner, CHIP GANASSI. The drivers celebrated by taking selfies on the dais.

Pruett took a lot of ribbing about his age and experience. He’s won LBGP races in three different decades, in two different centuries, and in two different milleniums.

Jordan Taylor, Ricky Taylor & Jan Magnussen

Jordan Taylor, Ricky Taylor & Jan Magnussen

JORDAN TAYLOR/No.10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette CP was second, with brother RICKY TAYLOR; followed by JOAO BARBOSA/No.5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP with teammate CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI.

Barbbosa led one lap during Rojas’ pit stop. Pruett got into the car, and was able to pass Barbosa. Pruett said it wasn’t easy – passing or winning. “It was just short of a qualifying lap I think the whole time. When you run 100 laps like that, and no yellows, you can throw a blanket over the top three cars. I think it says a lot for the TUDOR Championship, what we’re doing and where we’re going. There have been huge challenges with the new series packages.”

Rojas said “I just want to win races. I expect the competition to get better each race.

Kevin’s Dad, JAN MAGNUSSEN/No.3 Corvette RaciKng Chevrolet Corvette CR.7, with teammate ANTONIO GARCIA won the GTLM class, finishing eighth overall, two laps down. This was the thirty-eighth victory for Magnussen and eighth for Garcia.

Magnussen said “I tried to drive around and not make any mistakes. Top speed doesn’t play much of a part here at Long Beach compared to Sebring.” This was the first win at Long Beach for Garcia. “They told me to stay away from the walls.”

Second and third in the GTLM class were DIRK MUELLER and co-driver JOHN EDWARDS/No.56 Team BMW RLL BMW Z4 GTE; and TOMMY MILNER, teaming with OLIVER GAVIN in No.4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette CR.7. Seven of the top nine GTLM cars were on their lead lap.

The third-place No.4 Corvette won the Green Challenge Award, for the most-efficient team.

The 100-minute sprint race ran caution-free, with local yellow flags controlling individual situations. The one-stop race wasn’t without incidents, but nothing like the season’s first two races. The weather was a beautiful 69 degrees with blue skies, and track temperature of 95 degrees.

Five of the top seven P class drivers were on the lead lap. Sixteen of 21 drivers were running at the finish.

No.70 SpeedSource Mazda

No.60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley DP
TOM LONG/No.70 SpeedSource Mazda was the first out with a blown head gasket on Lap 3. His co-driver, team owner, SYLVAIN TREMBLAY had qualified the car.

JOHN PEW/No.60 Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Ford Riley DP learned the hard way that three into Turn One don’t go. He stuffed it into the tire wall on the first lap, but was extricated without a caution, and continued on. Then he spun in Turn Eight with MICHAEL VALIENTE/No.90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP, but both continued. Later, Pew’s co-driver, OSWALDO NEGRI, was turning fast laps, but stalled, couldn’t restart, and retired on Lap 39 of the 77-lap race.

Marsh Racing’s No.31 Corvette DP, with drivers BORIS SAID and ERIC CURRAN retired on Lap 22 of the 77-lap race, with a broken control arm. They previously had received a Pit Lane speeding ticket, netting them a stop and go penalty plus twenty seconds.

JONATHAN BOMARITO/No.93 SRT Motorsports SRT Viper GTS-R retired on Lap 56 with drive line issues. His co-drivers were MARC GOOSSENS and KUNO WITTMER.

RYAN DALZIEL/No.1 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b retired on the penultimate lap, with a mechanical problem.

Ricky Taylor said it was his first race together with brother on the podium together. Jordan said “It was a great race. some bumping and banging and some unnecessary aggression at the first, but no one into the wall. There were battles in the race, which shows the professional level in the series.”

Post-race inspection was cleared with no issues.

The next race is on Sunday 4 May 2014 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

RHR ON INDYCAR POLE

Ryan Hunter-Reay and son Ryden

Ryan Hunter-Reay and son Ryden

RYAN HUNTER-REAY/No.28 Andretti Autosport Honda is on pole for Sundays Verizon IndyCar Series race at the 40th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, with a lap of 1:07.8219. His lap, the fastest of all four of the qualifying rounds, and the fastest of the weekend, pipped his Andretti teammate, JAMES HINCHCLIFFE/No.27, on the last qualifying lap. This is the sixth career pole position for the 2010 Long Beach winner. RHR is currently second in the IndyCar standings.

IndyCar qualifying was held in sessions, Round One for Group One and Group Two, taking the top six from each to proceed to Round Two. The top six from that session went around one last time. SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS/No.11 KVSH Racing Chevrolet was the fastest in each of his first two rounds, lowering his time each run. However, come the final round, he finished third overall – the lone Chevrolet – behind Hinchcliffe.

Fourth through sixth were JOSEF NEWGARDEN/No.6 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda, Rookie JACK HAWKSWORTH/No.98 BHA BMM with Curb Agajanian Honda, and SIMON PAGENAUD/No.77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda.

Josef Newgarden

Josef Newgarden

Sebastien Bourdais

Sebastien Bourdais

Jack Hawksworth

Jack Hawksworth

James Hinchcliffe & Simon Pagenaud

James Hinchcliffe & Simon Pagenaud

Hunter-Reay said “It was very entertaining to get the pole. You didn’t know who would get the pole until it was over. Tomorrow expect the unexpected. Different tracks have different strategies. It’s going to be a tough one with the close competition.”

RHR, as well as some of the other drivers, commented how very unusual it was for no Penske or Ganassi cars in top six. Hunter-Reay said “I can’t remember that ever happening.” Newgarden expressed surprise about WILL POWER/No.12 Team Penske Chevrolet not making the cut. and Bourdais said “I think it really sums up how much things are certain right now in IndyCar, and how the field is competitive. Five teams in top six. Cars separated by hundredths. All bets are off.” Hinchcliffe scoffed. “Will can win from twelfth.” They’ll be strong in the race.” Pagenaud said the times were very close. Power will start fourteenth.

RHR confirmed his wall scrape in the morning session. “I flapped the car, front and rear, into the wall. Not serious but I did it.” Regarding starts, rolling or standing, he said “I just think we should do it one way or another. standing or rolling start.” When repeatedly asked about his race strategy, he joked “I’m trying to tell you my strategy but then my engineers would have to ……..”

Bourdais said “It was fun. It’s been a team effort. We really thought we had a shot at it. We have a really fast car here, came up a bit short today, but there’s always tomorrow.”

Newgarden said “It wasn’t a big jump between reds and blacks (tires.) It was kind of weird in a way. We’re starting up front and it’s our goal to stay up there.”

Hawksworth was the top Rookie. He presents as one of the more serious drivers, especially contrasted to Newgarden. Hawksworth wasn’t too concerned about having less pre-season practice than most. “When you have a good foundation to build from, it wasn’t why we weren’t picking up at square one. It was already kind of there ad we just chipped away ever since.”

Pagenaud said “I think it’s very tight. The competition is really high. And really, I think it’s the best drivers around in IndyCar. Long Beach is a good track for passing actually, because there is a lot of action in Turn One, not only in the start, but also during the race. There is a lot of fuel saving usually, that makes for different strategies.

Sunday’s 80-lap race, with a standing start, airs live on NBCSN, with the pre-race show starting at 12:30pm local time.

P1 Award

VEACH ON LIGHTS POLE

Zack Veach

Zack Veach

ZACK VEACH/No.26 Andretti Autosport pulled one out of his helmet on the last lap of qualifying to turn a time of 1:15.0074 to take the pole for the Indy Lights 100 Race on Sunday. The hour-long race is Sunday as part of the 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The dimunitive nineteen-year old American driver doesn’t look old enough to shave, but he can drive.

Veach said “I figured out I had nothing to lose, so I just went for it. Gabby is going to be very tough on Sunday.” He had done some fine tuning five laps before the end. Regarding the change of tires, he said “The returning drivers had experience last year managing the tires for the hour-long race, and though the brand was different, they handled much the same.”

Gabby Chaves

Gabby Chaves

Until Veach topped the charts, it had been a session-long battle between the two Belardi Auto Racing teammates, GABBY CHAVES/No.5, who finished second overall, and Rookie ALEX BARON/No.4, who ended up fourth. Mazda Road to Indy driver, Rookie MATTHEW BRABHAM/No.83 quietly moved up the chart to finish third. Chaves had been fastest all weekend,including much of qualified. Fifth was Rookie LUIZ RAZIA/No.7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian.

The series has twelve drivers, nine of which are Rookies. The other three are in their second season.

Chaves said “It was a good session. I had a great car. We went for a second set of tires. I’m confident and comfortable in my seat.”

Sunday’s race for the Indy Lights Series presented by Cooper Tires starts at 10:15 am local time.

PENSKE POWER

Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power

Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power

Saturday morning, WILL POWER/No.12 Team Penske Chevrolet was the fastest Verizon IndyCar Series driver in the last practice session of the weekend. He was also fastest early on. His time was 1:08.1696 on the 11-turn, 1.968-mile street course at the 40th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. He was one of six different drivers who topped the charts in the 45-minute session. Half of a second separated the top ten drivers, and the top 19 were all within a second of each other. Close, tight driving. 14 of the 23 drivers were faster Saturday morning than the Friday’s fastest lap of 1:09.1488/102.457 mph/ set by SIMON PAGENAUD/No.77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Honda.

Power’s teammates, JUAN PABLO MONTOYA/No.2 finished eighth and HELIO CASTRONEVES/No.3, who was one of the early leaders, finished thirteenth.

The other fastest drivers were: TONY KANAAN/10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, JOSEF NEWGARDEN/No.67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda, JUSTIN WILSON/No.19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda, and twice for MIKE CONWAY/No.20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet,

The session ran caution free. CHARLIE KIMBALL/No.83 Chip Ganassi Racing Teams drove off into a run-off area, and neatly executed what I’ve always called a F1 U-Turn, and continued on course. Kimball has one of the weekend’s in-car cameras.

Rookies JACK HAWKSWORTH/No.98 BHA/BBM with Curb Agajanian Honda, and MIKHAIL ALESHIN/No.7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda each ran as high as second early on. Hawksworth in P9, and Aleshin – P13. The third rookie, CARLOS HUERTAS/No.18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda finished P15, as high as he ran.

All 23 drivers have so far participated in every session.

IndyCar qualifying begins at 1:15pm local time.

PRO PETTY PLAYS

Kyle Petty

Kyle Petty

KYLE PETTY was the life of the party Friday afternoon for the post-qualification media conference after qualifying for the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race at the 40th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. He qualified on the pole, overall and in the Pro category. He was clearly at ease with the other drivers as well as the assembled media. Petty’s lap time was 1:45.100. This was his second time running the race, the other being back in the day. He thanked Toyota for asking him back, for many reasons, including fulfilling an item on his bucket list – the fact that now Petty has raced every marque of car in racing. Petty thanked Toyota for letting him race, treating them all with respect, and for putting on such a fantastic show.

The other two Pro drivers were AL UNSER Jr at 1:46.323 and RUTLEDGE WOOD at 1:46.590.

BRETT DAVERN was the top Celebrity driver, with a time of 1:45.638. He is known for being on MTV’s “Awkward” show.

Davern was pretty excited at being the fastest celebrity. Last year he was second, but not for the lack of trying. Davern said he begged anyone and everyone to come back again this year – “I would really love to race” PAUL NEWMAN is my model – as an entertainer who started racing later in his career.” Davern said he would race anything, anytime, anywhere. “I’ve always loved racing since I was a little kid. Just give me a car with stickers and I’m in.”

Petty regaled the group with stories, including his so-called rivalry with Unser, with whom he’s raced against in the past – 1983 Daytona 500, where they got in a wreck. The two were “a bit too competitive’ during their pre-race training on The Streets of Willow Springs race track. They were given a time out on the first day.

Petty said ” The King and I were talking after I went to Willow and spent days with Al, following him around was phenomenal for me. He helped me. I never was a good road racer. The King said during that period of time that Al Jr was the only driver that could go from one series to the other. The King doesn’t compliment a lot of people. Al was competitive that year, the only race he ran. it’s been a lot of fun to compare Al Unser Sr and Petty stories. I think we have the same father.

“We’re all competitive but not real rivals. We don’t want to end up in the wall, but would like to see a full ten laps of green.”

Petty admitted, when asked, nothing embarasses him, so if he got beaten by another driver, he could take it. The Pro Drivers start further back, a split start so to speak.

VANESSA MARCIL qualified second from last, but warned “It’s all an act. I’m going to win tomorrow.” Then she admitted “I’ve been terrified the entire time, racing against these bad ass guys. Can I say bad ass? I’ve never been in a race car, and never even seen a car race before. I’m the token female.”

Marcil, a TV actress from “General Hospital” is one of three females, along with LISA STANLEY and TRICIA HELFER. “We love watching the guys compete and go at it with each other. We girls are trying to beat our last time. This is the nicest group of people with whom I’ve ever worked. Everyone works together.”

MAX THIERIOT qualified second in the Celeb category, an actor known for being on TV’s “Bates Motel.” He didn’t get much chance to get a in word edgewise, with all the palaver among the others. He did admit that the Streets of Willow were more daunting than the regular course at Willow Springs. The Streets were pretty narrow, even more so than Long Beach, although Long Beach did have walls. “Wall is a four letter word.” What he took away from the training was learning the line, sticking with it and then carrying it over to Long Beach.”I spent a lot of time in the sand.”

The Streets of Willow is where DANNY McKEEVER’s Fast Lane Racing School trains the Pro/Celebrity drivers for two days, and they run the tight course in both directions. Petty said it is a very technical track, while Long Beach streets have more speed.

On a different note, when asked, Petty said his father was doing “pretty good since Mom passed. He’s used to being at the track alone, but not used to coming home alone. They were together 57 years, fifty of which he was on the road. It’s been a lot harder as she was sick the last four and a half-five years.” Kyle said he himself was having a hard time too – and he and his siblings are spending time staying with their mom.

The Toyota Pro/Celebrity race runs noon on Saturday.

VAUNTING VENERABLE VETERANS

Scott Pruett

Scott Pruett

SCOTT PRUETT/No.01 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford Riley DP continued to prove that he just improves with age Friday afternoon in the qualifying session for the TUDOR United Sports Car Championship Sports Car Showcase. The fifty-four year-old driver sits on the pole with a lap time of 1:15.325, on his last lap. His time is a new lap record.

Second was OSWALDO NEGRI Jr/No.60 Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian Ford Riley DP, with CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI/No.5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP finishing third fastest, but not for lack of trying to pip Pruett.

This session was exciting and fast-paced as the times kept getting lower and lower. A Red Flag was called with six+ minutes remaining in the P session, due to RYAN DALZIEL/No.1 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b who appeared to have a braking problem, and he pulled off near the fountain. The retrieval time almost, but not quite ran out the clock. However, the final three minutes were even faster paced as the times continued to drop even further; but Pruett remained on top.

Dalziel and teammate SCOTT SHARP will start last in the P category due to losing their fast lap as the penalty assessment for causing the Red Flag.

Pruett kept lowering his times all session. This is his first pole this season, and his thirty-third sports car pole. “At Long Beach, you just get braver and braver. It’s certainly better to start at the front. I’ve raced here with an all-green race, and races with lots of crashes. It will be exciting, it will be fun. We’ve just been fine-tuning the car as it was good off the transporter. Now, we go right to racing without any more practice.” About going back out after the Red Flag, Pruett said “We felt we could pull off a faster lap after the Red Flag, so absolutely had to go back out.”

“It’s great that the two oldest drivers sitting are on the front row, and Dad here (pointing to JAN MAGNUSSEN/No.3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette Cr.7) on the GTLM pole, and with a son doing so well in F1.” Pruett is 54, Negri is almost fifty, and Magnussen is pushing 41. So much for Youth and Good Looks, with all this experience running up front. People have been teasing Magnussen all weekend that he’s gone from being a world-class driver to being Kevin’s Dad. His son is KEVIN MAGNUSSEN, who is racing for McLaren in Formula One, and had a podium finish in his first-ever race. Kevin finished third in Australia, which became a second place after the DNQ accorded to DANIEL RICCIARDO/Red Bull Racing.

Jan Magnussen

Jan Magnussen

Magnussen took the GTLM pole in his fifteen minute qualifying session, with a lap of 1:17.939, the only driver to break into the 17′s. It was also a new qualifying lap record. Second and third were BMW Team RLL teammates, BILL AUBERLEN/No.55 BMW Team RLL, who had led for awhile, and DIRK MUELLER/No.56.

It was the second LBGP pole for Magnussen, and his seventeenth sports car pole. He turned his time five minutes into the session and it held.”It stuck and I didn’t hit any walls. Reliability has been 100 percent. It’s a one-stop race. These short races can be a little bit tricky in strategy. Most of the time we play it safe, and sometimes we lose out, but usually we do well.”

The drivers must start the race on three of their their qualifying tires. The starting driver must be nominated within half an hour after qualifying, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be the qualifying driver.

In the late afternoon practice preceding qualifying, the finishing order was Fittipaldi, Pruett, and JORDAN TAYLOR/No.10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP. Earlier in the day, Taylor’s team owner, WAYNE TAYLOR, announced that the No.10 car driven by his two young sons, Jordan and Ricky, would be sponsored by Konica Minolta, with a multi-year contract.

Konica Minolta CEO, RICK TAYLOR, no relation to Wayne’s family, said “There is a little bit of a branding deal going on with the hair with the young lads coming up. One a little bit more so than others, but they’re carving out their niche, and I would say it’s working, so don’t fix it. Congratulations, guys, well done.” Rick was referring to the Taylor sons, especially Jordan who is infamous for his long hair and mullet – which is one of his nicknames. Jordan has vowed to grow his hair until LeMans at which time he’ll cut it and donate it to ‘Locks for Love,’ a charity which provides hairpieces for children suffering from long-term medical issues.

In the GTLM Friday practice, Auberlen was fastest at 1:38.114, followed by ANTONIO GARCIA/No.3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette DP, and NICK TANDY/No.911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR.

The post-qualifying technical inspection was cleared, with no problems.

The 100-minute TUDOR USCC Sports Car Showcase starts at 3:05pm local time and runs for 100 minutes.

JUST GETTING BETTER

Simon Pagenaud

Simon Pagenaud

The temperature kept rising Friday at the 40th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, beyond the forecast, making great weather for street racing. For the Verizon IndyCar Series second practice mid-afternoon, the ambient temperature was 72 degrees F/track temperature 118 F. The winners were the fans, who turned out in droves for racing, as well as to queue up in long lines for driver autographs

SIMON PAGENAUD/No.77 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda and eleven other Verizon IndyCar Series drivers went faster in the afternoon practice session than the morning fastest lap of JAMES HINCHCLIFFE/No.27 Andretti Autosport Honda. Pagenaud turned a 1:09.1488. All of the 23 IndyCar drivers were faster in the afternoon session, except 2001 LBGP winner, HELIO CASTRONEVES/No.3 Team Penske Chevrolet, who was nineteenth in the second session, and seventeenth overall for the day.

Second through fifth were three-time LBGP winner, SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS/No.11 KVSH Racing; and two-time LBGP winner, WILL POWER/No.12 Team Penske Chevrolet.

Pagenaud said “We need to win a few this year to win the championship. LBGP is different from St Pete. I think the team’s done a great job over the winter at helping the car on the curbs and on the bumps. I feel pretty confident this weekend. It’s quite exciting. The sun was shining, and for qualifying, the red tires will give us more grip. Obviously, with different series running there will be different rubber on the track. You have to adapt. As the track rubbers up, the softness of the car needs to go up or needs to go down, and that’s what we’ll have to adjust for the red Firestone tires that are going to give us more grip.”

Sebastien Bourdais

Sebastien Bourdais

Bourdais said “Long Beach is a pretty challenging place. Commitment is always rewarded there. but one only can commit to so much. We’re happy, but still have work to do. The cars have come such a long way. It was a clean session. The morning conditions were tricky – it was greasy.”

Jack Hawksworth

Jack Hawksworth

Rookie Hawksworth, who drove it last year in Indy Lights, said “I like the circuit. I’m enjoying it – it’s a good location and good weekend. The IndyCar driving is better; going over the curbs is easy, pretty similar. The team is happy. We came into the season a bit late, but we’ve been working hard.” Hawksworth said “The team helped me adapt as a rookie quickly.

Among those were fastest during the 45-minute green flag session: 2011 LBGP winner, MIKE CONWAY/No.20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet; Rookies CARLOS MUNOZ/No.34 Andretti-HVM Honda and MIKHAIL ALESHIN/No.18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda; RYAN BRISCOE/No.8 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet; JAMES HINCHCLIFFE/No.27 Andretti Autosport Honda; 2010 LBGP winner, RYAN HUNTER-REAY/No.28 Andretti Autosport Honda; JUSTIN WILSON/No.19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda; and Pagenaud.

The time sheets shuffled a lot, all up and down.

The damage inflicted to the No.67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Honda by JOSEF NEWGARDEN into the Turn 11 tire wall was repaired during the lunch break. The team said the damage was minimal to the front left suspension. He ran sixth in the session. He said “Today in Long Beach was an interesting day for us.”

SFHR Team Car Repair-rear view

SFHR Crew working on suspension

SFHR Team repairing left front suspension

Hinchcliffe stopped on course in the waning moments of the session, but no worries. It was covered with local flags and the session remained green and clean.

Next up for IndyCar is Saturday morning’s 45-minute practice session, leading up to Saturday afternoon’s knock-out qualifying.

THE HEAT IS ON

James Hinchcliffe's car

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE/No.27 Andretti Autosport Honda was the fastest Verizon IndyCar Series driver Friday morning with a time of 1:09.9262. He was the first driver to break into the .09′s, and despite HELIO CASTRONEVES/No.3 Team Penske Chevrolet hitting the 1:09′s, Hinchcliffe still went faster again and remained in the top position.

Third overall was JUSTIN WILSON/No.19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda, followed by RYAN HUNTER-REAY/No.28 Andretti Autosport Honda, and JOSEF NEWGARDEN/No.67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda.

The temperatures had already risen to 70 degrees for the 10am practice, with track temps of a bit more than that.

Newgarden had been one of top fastest drivers early on, but shortly after turning his fast lap he plowed into the tire barrier in Turn 11 hairpin, bringing out the Red Flag. He was unhurt, but very dejected. The car sustained front end damage. His fast time held for awhile until eclipsed by Hinchcliffe.

Prior to Newgarden’s fast lap, SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS/No.11 KVSH Racing Chevrolet was on top. After Newgarden’s side trip, Bourdais did a spin, but no harm, no foul. His final placing was eleventh.

JACK HAWKSWORTH/No.98 BHA/BBM with Curb Agajanian Honda was the top Rookie, placing seventh overall. The other two Rookies, MIKHAIL ALESHIN/No.7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda and CARLOS HUERTAS/No.18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda were at the other end of the chart.

The Sunday race should be very interesting, with its standing start. Many cameras will be focused on Turn One.

Scott Pruett

In the TUDOR United Sports Car Challenge Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase, SCOTT PRUETT/No.01 Riley DP Ford EcoBoost turned his fastest lap a minute before the checkered flag. He was fastest overall and in the P Class, running a 1:16.441. Second through sixth and overall were OSWALDO NEGRI Jr/No.60 Riley DP Ford EcoBoost, JOAO BARBOSA/No.5 Corvette DP, ORDAN TAYLOR/No.10 Corvette DP, MICHAEL VALIANTE/No.90 Corvette DP, and GUSTAVO YACAMAN/No.42 Morgan Nissan.

In the highly competitive GT-Le Mans class, OLIVER GAVIN/No.3 Chevrolet Corvette CR-7.R was fastest at 1:19.797. Second and third in class were BMW teammates, BILL AUBERLEN/No.55 BMW Z4 GTE AND dirk muller/NO.56. Sellers was fourth fastest before he stopped, and fifth was the RISI Ferrari 458 team with GIANCARLO FISICHELLA and DANE CAMERON.

The USCC practice had two Red Flags, firstly for two minutes when RICHARD WESTBROOK/No.90-P Corvette DP stopped in Turn One with an open door which got hit, and then ten minutes for NICK TANDY/No.991 GTLM Porsche 911 RSR stopping on course. The only other event was and BRYAN SELLERS/No.17-GTLM Porsche 911 RSR pulling off course in Turn Seven. No one was hurt.

IndyCars have an afternoon practice, and USCC has qualifying late in the afternoon, with all three classes running separately.