STEWART SMOKES SONOMA!

Tony Stewart

Photo by Bob Tarvin/Tarvin Images

Tony Stewart/No.14 Code 3 Assoc/Mobil 1 Chevrolet squeezed by the battling Denny Hamlin/No.11 FedEx Cares Toyota in Turn Eleven on the last lap of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Toyota/Save Mart 350 Race at Sonoma Raceway. Stewart touched Hamlin as they went in side by side, Hamlin bobbled, tagged the wall, and Stewart pulled ahead by 0.625 seconds to take his first victory in 84 races. Then Smoke, as he’s called, did just that spinning doughnuts and buzzing his motor up in Turn Seven. At the end of this season, Stewart retires from Cup racing and moves on to the second half of his race career.

This was Stewarts 49th win, his eighth road course victory, and his third victory at Sonoma. He led once, for 22 laps.

Stewart’s Crew Chief Mike Bugarewicz said nothing else was working on their pit stops, so decided to go off-strategy and brought Stewart in during a late green flag run, when it sounded on the radio like there might be debris on the track. Five laps later there was a debris caution, and with 22 laps to go, Stewart took the lead, while there were wholesale pitstops by the pack.

Stewart lost the lead on the last lap in Turn Seven when the charging Hamlin passed him. The two raced around the last few turns going for the finish, while everyone held their collective breath watching them go through Turn Eleven, the last chance for a pass. And it happened, not exactly a surprise.

#14-Tony-Stewart. Photo by Mike Burghardt

Photo by Mike Burghardt

Stewart was in a “must win” situation at Sonoma – being 35th in points and winless. In order to make The Chase, after missing eight races at the beginning of the season due to his broken back, he has to be in the top thirty in points and have a win. He delivered….barely. He’s now 32nd in the standings, narrowing the gap to the cutoff to nine points. And he’s got his obligatory win.

Stewart co-owns a NASCAR team of four cars with Gene Haas, and two of their cars are 1-2 in the Owner points – Kevin Harvick/No.4 Mobil 1 Chevrolet and Kurt Busch/No.41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Chevrolet – drivers who are still first and second in the Driver Standings, 35 points apart. Harvick has extended his contract with the team.

Stewart – ” They’re all good (wins), but this one is special. Hamlin told me he was so proud of me when he stuck his head in my window.” In talking about his last lap, Stewart said “I wasn’t going to be cordial going through that corner. If it was a street fight, he’d have two black eyes. I’m going for more wins, and I don’t lay down for anything. But if this is the last win, I’m OK with that.”

Tony-Stewart-leads-field-into-T2. Photo by Mike Burghardt

Photo by Jeff Burghardt

Hamlin led twice for 30 laps, the most of any leader. He said “I shouldn’t have given him that opportunity. I allowed him to get a good run on me. I knew he was going to put me into the wall. He did what he had to do and I did what I had to do, and all’s fair in love and war.” He also said I”It was a great, fun race. We had the car good enough to win.” Regarding Stewart’s mood at this point, he opined “His give a shit factor is pretty low” as this was probably his best chance to get into the Chase. We just a little ‘heart to heart’ when I talked to him through his window after the race.”

#22 Joey Logano. Photo by Jeff Burghardt

#19-Carl-Edwards. Photo by Mike Burghardt

#19-Carl-Edwards. Photo by Mike Burghardt

Photos by Jeff and Mike Burghardt.

Finishing third through fifth were Joey Logano/No.22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, Pole Sitter Carl Edwards/No.19 Stanley Toyota, and Martin Truex/No.78 Furniture Row Toyota.

Tony-Stewart-leads-field-into-T2. Photo by Mike Burghardt

Photo by Mike Burghardt

Sixth through tenth were Harvick, Kyle Busch/No.18 M&M’s 75th Anniversary Toyota, Ryan Newman/No.31 WIX Filters Chevrolet, Kasey Kahne/No.5 Great Clips Chevrolet, and Kurt Busch.

Logano said “We’re probably witnessing a historic moment in NASCAR today with Tony getting that win today. Shows he has what it takes. I started next to him and he was hammering it from the start. So, I said ‘We’ve got that Tony Stewart today.”

Carl Edwards/No.19 Stanley Toyota had the pole position, led the first eight laps before being beaten on a restart by second fastest qualifier, A.J. Allmendinger/No.47 Ralphs/Kingsford Chevrolet. Edwards led twice for 24 laps, and turned the fastest race lap. He also won the Duralast Brakes “Brake in the Race” Award.

#47-AJ-Allmendinger-Photo by Mike Burghardt

Photo by Mike Burkhardt

Allmendinger led four times for 20 laps. He had an up and down day, finishing down after a penalty for “uncontrolled tire” during his last pit stop, which relegated him to the end of the pack of 35 cars at the last restart. AJ finished 14th after charging back through the pack after his penalty, and earned the Ingersoll Rand Power Move Award.

Other leaders, via recycling through pit stops, were Harvick for three laps, Kyle Busch once for two laps, Paul Menard/No.27 Richmond/Menards Chevrolet once for three laps, and Stewart’s teammate, Danica Patrick/No.10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet once for three laps.

#24-Chase-Elliott. Photo by Mike Burkhardt

Photo by Mike Burkhardt

Chase Elliott/No.24 3M Chevrolet was the top Rookie, finishing 21st. This was his first time at the wine country road course.

Clint Bowyer/No.15 5-Hour Energy Chevrolet didn’t have a great day. He started eighteenth, but retired early with an apparent ignition/electrical fire on Lap Eight. Bowyer got out of the car in a hurry and was unhurt. He will be the replacing Stewart in the No.14 next year, which will be a Ford when the team switches manufacturers.

Overall, it wasn’t the most exciting of races…until the last few laps. The leader packs didn’t change much. There was some good battles between Edwards and Allmendinger, between Hamlin and Truex battling Stewart, and it was fun to watch Allmendinger charging through the pack after his penalty. There were four cautions, one for Bowyer, debris when Austin Dillon/No.3 Dow/Utility Trailers Chevrolet had a problem in Turn One, spring rubber debris during a long boring parade stretch, and when Michael McDowell/No.95 Circle Sport Leave Chevrolet pulled off in Turn 10.

Five drivers were new to Sonoma Raceway: Rookies Elliott, Ryan Blaney/No.21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, and Brian Scott/No.44 Safeway/Blue Emu Ford, plus Chris Buscher/No.34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford and Dylan Lupton/No.93 Bell Bros Plumbing, Heat & Air/Elk Grove Toyota.

All the cars pulled for inspection passed – Stewart, Hamlin, Logano, Edwards, Truex and ‘random’ Blaney. Stewart and Hamlin’s cars go to the NASCAR R&D Center in Concord NC for further inspection.

The weather was low nineties with somewhat of a breeze. The crowd looked impressive.

#11-Denny-Hamlin-leads-field-into-esses. Photo by Mike Burghardt

Photo by Mike Burghardt

PACE PICKED UP

Pit Lane Crowd Scene

Sunday breaks sunny and the Sonoma Raceway is filling up with fans for the 28th Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Race. The big news is that Toyota has renewed its race co-title sponsorship in a multi-year agreement. Toyota has been co-title sponsor for the past ten years, and is also the official vehicle sponsor of the track. Toyota will also continue as title sponsor of the track’s annual Toyota/Save Mart 350 preview show on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. The 30-minute special, which airs during the month of June, has been nominated for a sports Emmy award in past years.

The track has several entrances, which help control the traffic flow. I came through the Lakeville Road gate Saturday morning, a new experience for me. I was in awe at how much property the track actually owns, in between land parcels owned by the Sonoma Trust. I also was amazed at how many motorhomes and RV’s were seen along the way – not all visible from the paddock/pits. There were a lot of folks. Little villages with their allegiance flags waving in the breeze.

The track and its Traffic Manager work closely with the California Highway Patrol to control/lessen the traffic disruption for what is one of the Bay Area’s largest single-day sporting event. Thirty CHP and Cal Trans staff work the event. Up to 85 percent of the traffic by the circuit is non-race related (i.e. wine country interested.) Many informational directional signs are posted to direct towards those non-race fans who are looking for alternative routes throughout the area, the goal being to keep them away from the race track. Other posted directional signs point out the various entrance gates for fans, depending on their ticket/credential situation. Two sold-out Fun Trains come from the Sacramento area stopping right at the track’s front gate, the arrival of which is shown on the track’s live TV screens. Twenty-nine SportsFan Express shuttle busses bring traffic from around the Bay Area. Free parking on the many hills inside the track fill up, with shuttles running the fans back and forth to the paddock or their viewing areas. Strict monitoring of the DMV Handicap Placards allows those users to have their special parking.

It’s summer in California which means that the beautiful lush green from the winter’s less than hoped-for El Nino has turned to brown. To do its part towards fire mitigation and suppression, the track has its Wooly Weeders, a flock of more than 300 sheep which live on the property keeping everything nibbled to the nub. Additionally, for rodent control the track works with local owl agencies to provide owl nesting boxes throughout the property. Rats have ever-growing teeth in search of things upon which to gnaw, including wires and cords. The owls help the many garages and shops on site which don’t really like nibblers in their buildings and equipment yards.

Trylon-Bottom 20

Trylon- Top 20

The track has installed a new four-sided LED Trylon above Turn One, replacing the former installation. This gives more than 5,000 of square-foot LED screens showing track position of the race cars. The leaderboard display alternates between the top twenty race car positions and the bottom 20. Also new is the 84×12 Panasonic LED screen on the three-story Drag Tower opposite the John Cardinale Media Center and the second of the two Pit Lanes. This also gives the leaderboard information, as well as the laps completed and time remaining.

Sunday’s Race Day Schedule calls for a variety of fan-oriented activities. There are special tours and access events for specially credentialed fans. There is a PG&E Military STEM Job Fair, Stunt Plane Performance and the annual twenty-five minute Patriots Jet Demonstration Team Air Show, as well as a pre-race Concert performed by Jackson Michelson. There are the usual Ceremonial Introductions, Driver Introduction and it’s always fun to gauge which driver gets the biggest reaction, positive or negative. That is followed by the Driver track tour as part of the NASCAR pre-race ceremonies. Not to mention the Skydivers Jump.

After the race, the track is bringing back its popular track walk, which has two-fold consequences. It means fun for the fans who get to walk/see the track and have a pseudo-scavenger hunt for special lug nuts around the track redeemable for prizes; and it helps ease the flow of post-race traffic.

The weather will be in the low nineties and hopefully the typical afternoon breeze will kick in.

Let’s Go Racing!

NASCAR Paddock

FAST EDDY

Carl Edwards/No.19 Stanley Toyota

Carl Edwards/No.19 Stanley Toyota is the NASCAR Coors Lite pole winner for Sunday’s Sprint Cup Toyota/Save Mart 350 race at Sonoma Raceway. His lap was 95.777 mph/74.799 seconds. Edwards narrowly edged last year’s pole sitter, AJ Allmendinger/No.47 Ralphs/Kingsford Chevrolet, who had just run what was then the top time-95.676 mph/74.878 seconds. Edwards had also been the fastest driver in the first qualifying session.

Carl Edwards

It was the nineteenth career pole position for Edwards, and third pole this season. He was presented with his Sonoma Raceway DriveSafe award in Victory Circle. This is the first pole for Edwards at Sonoma Raceway.

Carl Edwards

Carl Edwards. Photo by Jeff Burghardt.


“The car is fast. We’re out here in Toyota country here, in a Toyota for the Toyota. I’m really excited. It’s easy to mess up. I’m glad we hung on for the pole and just really excited. You’re looking at the guy who wrecked out last year. It’s one race I really look forward to all year. There’s no other track that you get to drive like this. You really get to – no lap is perfect here, like I said, you’re bouncing off of kerbs, you’re sliding around, you’re spinning the tires, you’re locking up brakes and this is what driving a race car is about.”

AJ Allmendinger

AJ Allmendinger. Photo by Jeff Burghardt

Allmendinger said It was a struggle yesterday. This is definitely a big gain from where we were yesterday. There’s no pressure on me. Edwards has won here before. Best I’ve done is seventh. All we can do is our best. This is a big weekend for our sponsors, who are locally based – Clorox in Oakland and Ralphs here.”

For Sonoma’s qualifying, there were two qualifying sessions. In the first session all 41 cars ran, with the fastest 12 advancing to the second round to set the final field.

Third through fifth were Martin Truex Jr/No.78 Furniture Row Toyota; Kurt Busch/No.41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Chevrolet; and Kyle Larson/No.42 Target Chevrolet.

Sixth through twelfth were Denny Hamlin/No.11 FedEx Cares Toyota; Joey Logano/No.22 Shell Pennzoil Ford;Kyle Busch/No.18 M&M’s 75th Anniversary Toyota; Paul Menard/No.27 Richmond/Menards Chevrolet; Tony Stewart/No.14 Code 3 Assoc/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, who was finally getting better luck this weekend; his teammate, Danica Patrick/No.10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet; and Brad Keselowski/No.2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford.

Kevin Harvick

Kevin Harvick. Photo by Bob Tarvin/Tarvin Images

Current points leader, Kevin Harvick/No.4 Mobil 1 Chevrolet qualified twenty-fifth. He ran seventeenth and eighteenth in the first and second practice sessions.

There are 36 Charter teams, which have guaranteed starting positions for their drivers. In the 41-car field, one unlucky driver didn’t make the 40-car field. In this case, it was Cody Ware/No.55 CarPort Empire Chevrolet.

Cody Ware

Cody Ware

I misspoke previously, saying there were no Rookies in the 2016 Cup field. There are three: Ryan Blaney/No.21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, Brian Scott.No.44 Safeway/Blue Emu Ford and Young Chase Elliott/No.24 3M Chevrolet, who took over the seat formerly occupied by retired NASCAR Cup Champion, Jeff Gordon. Elliott missed out making the top 12 for Cup qualifying, but he was the top qualifying Rookie for Sunday’s race, starting sixteenth. And icing on the cake for the son of NASCAR Champion, Bill Elliot – he has the pole for Saturday afternoon’s Chevy’s Fresh Mex 200 NASCAR K&N Pro Series, West race.

Chase Elliott

Chase Elliott Cup Car. Photo by Jeff Burghardt

Chase Elliott K&N Chevrolet

Chase Elliott K&N Chevrolet

For the race, there are 20 Chevrolets, eleven Fords and nine Toyotas. Chevrolet currently leads the Manufacturer points with 606, followed by Ford with 559 and Toyota with 623.

Matt Kenseth’s No 20 Dollar General Toyota accumulated its fourth warning Saturday during pre qualifying inspection. As a result, the team will have last pit stall selection for Sunday’s race. Now the total reverts back to zero.

Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon, retired NASCAR Champion and now Fox Sports TV analyst at NASCAR, is ending his first season in the TV booth with this weekend’s race. He met with the media Saturday morning, before calling the qualifying session. After this weekend, he’ll be able to spend more time with his family. He said he was flattered, in response to questions re is plans for the rest of this season, to have his name associated with ABC’s “Live” morning TV show which he has co-hosted in the past. “My priority is FOX and FOX Sports and NASCAR, so I will definitely be back in the booth next year. If there was something that would fit into and around that, great. I don’t know if that’s a reality, but it’s been really interesting kind of seeing that unfold. I really don’t have anything I can say about it.”

Gordon has a book coming out in October. “It’s been an amazing experience for me to reminisce with my stepdad (John Bickford) over all these great stories that have never been told before, including things with Bill and Gail Davis, to my experience at Hendrick and the success and things off the track and family and divorce and all these things that are all kind of brought in a way that I think has never been done before. So, yeah, looking forward to it. I mean, this summer, when summer is over, that’s what I’ll be ramping up towards, and being at the racetrack. So, looking forward to it.”

Saturday afternoon’s K&N race starts at 1pm local time, and Sunday’s Sprint Cup race starts at noon Pacific Daylight Time, airing live on Fox Sports 1, as well as PRN Radio, Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 90 and NASCAR.com.

FAST IS FAST

Kyle Larson No.42 Target Chevrolet. Photo by Bob Tarvin/Tarvin Images.

Photo by Bob Tarvin/Tarvin Images.

The Ganassi Gang was on the go for the first practice for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Sonoma Raceway. Kyle Larson No.42 Target Chevrolet was the fastest driver Friday morning with a lap of 1:15.299/95.141 mph, the only driver to hit 95 mph. His teammate, Jamie McMurray/No.1 Cessna Chevrolet was second, running 94.544 mph in 115.774 seconds. Their fastest times were turned near the end of the session.

AJ Allmendinger

AJ Allmendinger. Photo by Bob Tarvin/Tarvin Images

Larson holds the qualifying record at Sonoma, set last year with a lap of 1:14.186/96.568 mph. It was in the first round of qualifying, but unfortunately not in the round that counted, giving the pole to another local driver, A.J. Allmendinger of Los Gatos CA in No.47 Ralphs/Kingsford Chevrolet. Allmendinger ran nineteenth in the morning session and fifteenth in the afternoon.

Third through fifth were Martin Truex Jr/No.78 furniture Row Toyota, Dale Earnhardt Jr/No.88 Axalta Chevrolet, and Carl Edwards/No.19 Stanley Toyota. Edwards had led much of the 115-minute long session.

Larson grew up 90 minutes from the wine country circuit, in Elk Grove. He’s run 90 Cup races to date, and said it would be awesome to get his first win in his home state here, close to home. “This is probably one of my best tracks too. I really enjoy road course racing, especially here with friends and family that will be here. I’m looking forward to it. I don’t know about pressure (from team owner Chip Ganassi, or teammates,) but it would be nice to be the next new person to win a Cup Series race. It’s been a long time since a new person has won. There are a crop of us young guys in our early 20’s that would like to get a win.” Larson reckons that since California has “got the best food there is that’s probably why California has always been a kind of racing hotbed.”

The morning temperature was in the low eighties with a breeze. The track temperature was upwards of 130 degrees F.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Dale Earnhardt Jr./No.88 Axalta Chevrolet was fastest at the end of the afternoon practice session, turning a lap of 95.298 mph/115.175 seconds. He passed Casey Mears/No.13 GEICO Chevrolet mid-way through the session and the two remained one-two for the rest of the 105-minute session. Nine drivers eclipsed the 95 mph mark.

No.13 GEICO Chevrolet

The temperature cooled a bit to 84 degrees F, with a breeze.

Kyle Busch

Photo by Bob Tarvin/Tarvin Images.

Third through fifth were Denny Hamlin/No.11 FedEx Cares Toyota, Carl Edwards/No.19 Stanley Toyota, and 2015 Cup Champion and last year’s Sonoma race winner, Kyle Busch/No.18 M&M’s 75th Anniversary Toyota. Busch was one of several drivers having fun riding the blue and gold kerbs in Turn Seven, inside/right side wheels airborne. Busch also took a ride on the wild side through the outside grass going through Turns Nine and Ten.

Steve Page, Sonoma Raceway President/General Manager, admits that when he took over the running of the Northern California circuit, the kerbs were red. A die-hard UC Berkeley grad, he exercised executive privilege a few years back and repainted the kerbs Cal’s iconic blue and gold.

Friday afternoon two well-known colorful characters in NASCAR were inducted into the Sonoma Raceway Wall of Fame: Retired Cup driver, Ernie Irvin and Tony Stewart/No.14 Code 3 Assoc/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, who is running his last Sonoma Cup race this weekend. Stewart emphasized he was not retiring from racing, just from Sprint Cup race. “I’m getting ready to start the second half of my racing career.” He admitted he’s not feeling as good as “I thought I would with this being my last race here in Cup. “I’ve dedicated 18 years of my life to this series and it’s done great by me. But, at the same time there are other things in life I want to do other than be at a NASCAR track three days a week for 38 weekends out of 52 weekends a year. There is just not enough time to do everything you want to do. It’s time for me to do this. I’m just not sure what they (non-racing things) all are yet.”

Ernie Irvan

Ernie Irvan, Steve Page & Tony Stewart

Tony Stewart
Steve Page, Sonoma Raceway President/General Manager said Irvin’s amazing run in the 1992 Sonoma Cup race is the fan-voted top moment/event in the 25-year NASCAR history of the track. He started second, jumped the start earning a black flag to the rear of the field, and proceeded to work his way through the entire 43-car field to win the race.

Ernie Irvan and Tony Stewart

SONOMA SOLTICE PLUS

Sunoco Victory Lane

Three days after the Summer Soltice, sunny and warm California weather greeted the NASCAR folks Friday at Sonoma Raceway for the first of two road course races of the 2016 season. A light breeze kept it comfortable as the crews set up and readied their cars for the morning practice.

Two NASCAR series are on schedule this weekend – the premiere Sprint Cup Series with 41 cars entered for the 40-car field, and 31 car field for the K&N Pro Series, West.

No.88 Axalta Chevrolet

NASCAR Scrutineers in Cup Garage

No.21 Wood Bros Ford

Perhaps it was the beautiful weather. The pace seemed less rushed than usual as the teams prepared the cars for the obligatory scrutineering process, which involves lots of checks and measuring. Cars were being prepped in the garage stalls, pushed through various lines, and generally detailed for the first of two Friday practice sessions. Both series qualify Saturday morning.

Sunoco fuelers

Down at the Sunoco pumps, the cars are fueled by Sunoco gas men appropriately garbed in fire-resistance suits covered by a fuel-repellant apron, and standing on pig-mat, which absorbs any overflow. The pumps are grounded from the pump through to the truck and deep into the ground tanks.

No.93 Toyota

Although there are no Rookies in the Cup field, one driver will be making his Sprint Cup debut. Dylan Lupton from nearby Elk Grove CA will drive No.93 Bell Bros Plumbing, Heat & Air Toyota for BK Racing.

Patrick Carpentier in No.32 Ford

This year’s Sonoma race appears to have but one so-called ‘road race ringer.’ That’s the slang for a road racer brought in for the non-oval track races. This time it’s open-wheel racer with stock car chops, Patrick Carpentier from Quebec, Canada. He will be driving No.32 Can Am Ford. Mostly retired, the affable French-Canadian occasionally comes out to play; and the wine country stop is the first of two for him this year. G0 FAS Racing also hired Carpentier for the Brickyard 400 Cup race. Both circuits are familiar to him. He ran NASCAR with Ray Evernham for several years after winding down his road racing.

Spotting at Sonoma Raceway is crucial. All teams have at least one spotter – up above the RV’s on the hillside above Turns Two-Three. Some teams also have a second spotter on top of the three-story drag tower.

Fox TV Camera Crew

Fox Sports has set up one of its TV camera crews atop the hauler of Kasey Kahne/No.5 Great Clips Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. This is the last NASCAR Cup broadcast for the network, before the mid-season switch to NBC. This weekend marks the end of the Jeff Gordon’s debut season in the TV Broadcast Booth. He will be joined by Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds.

Sonoma is a ten-turn, 1.99-mile elevated road course. The highest point is 174 feet in Turn 3A, with Turn 10 being the lowest at 14 feet. a change of 160 feet each lap. The Toyota/Save Mart 350 race will run 110 laps, which equates to 350 kilometers/218.9-miles.

CLOSE!

Simon Pagenaud leading Scott Dixon to Checkered Flag

The Margin of Victory of 0.3032 seconds by Verizon IndyCar Series race winner Simon Pagenaud/No.22 PPG Automotive Finishes Team Penske Chevrolet ahead of Scott Dixon/No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet was THE closest ever for an IndyCar race at Long Beach – in the 33 years history of the open-wheel series at the 42-year old granddaddy of all street races.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and these photographs show how close was the racing not just at the finish of the race, but the beginning and throughout.

Simon Pagenaud & Helio Castroneves

Simon Pagenaud & Helio Castroeves

By all estimations, the weekend attendance exceeded the 181,000 from last year, which was then the best-ever crowd in the previous 12 years. Jim Michaelian, president of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, said Sunday night that he didn’t yet have all the figures for the weekend, but he was very happy.

The series has a quick turnaround. It next races this upcoming weekend in Birmingham for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on Sunday 24 April, 2016. Pagenaud, who was leading the standings going into Long Beach, extended his lead to 134 points, ahead of Scott Dixon with 120 points. Juan Pablo Montoya is third with 108, followed by Castroneves with 92 and Tony Kanaan with 82.

All photos courtesy of LAT USA for Chevy Racing.

PAGENAUD WINS SHORT RACE

Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing

Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing

Simon Pagenaud/No.22 PPG Automotive Finishes Team Penske Chevrolet won the Verizon IndyCar Series race Sunday afternoon at the 42nd Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, by a Margin of 0.3032 seconds ahead of Scott Dixon/No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet – the closest IndyCar finish in Long Beach history. The race was caution free, and all 21 cars were running at the finish. The race ran 1.33.54.4835. Average speed 100.592 mph.

The weather was picture perfect, light ocean breezes, clear blue skies, 80 degrees F and track temperature at 121 F.

Pagenaud said “2006 was my first American race right here. So, a lot of memories, you know? But, this one, holding (Scott) Dixon, that’s a lot of work. As you saw, the pit sequence just won it; was just awesome. I don’t know what to say. The PPG car is actually good luck for me. Every time I’m driving this car I get good results.”

The race was noteworthy more for the many records and interesting statistics than from the racing. And then there was the post-race conference.

It wasn’t the most exciting IndyCar race, proving the drivers right when they said it’s difficult to pass on street courses, especially Long Beach. Basically, two passing zones exist – Turn One by the Fountain, and Turn 11 known as the Queen’s Hairpin, leading to the long straight on Shoreline Drive. All the lead changes occurred during Pit Stops. With no cautions, fuel strategy took precedence. And that gave the TV broadcast more air to fill.

There was more drama in the post-race media conference.

There were a total of 51 passes recorded by IndyCar data, which doesn’t breakdown how or where they happened. There were six lead changes among four drivers, all resulting from pit stops: polesitter Helio Castroneves/No.3 Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet-twice for 47 laps; Pagenaud-twice for 28 laps; Charlie Kimball/No.83 Tresiba Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet-twice for three laps; and Dixon-once for two laps.

It was Pagenaud’s fifth career victory, his first for Team Penske, and the 179th win for Team Penske-and all four Team Penske cars made the top ten. The Frenchman’s last win was in Houston in 2014.

The last all-green flag IndyCar race was Mid-Ohio in 2013. This is the fourth caution-free race in the history of Long Beach, and that last one was in April 1989. The last IndyCar full-field finish was at Texas in June 2011.

Finishing third and fourth in the 80-lap race were Team Penske Chevrolet teammates, Helio Castroneves/No.3 Auto Club of Southern California and Juan Pablo Montoya/No.2 Team Penske.

Finishing fifth and top Honda was Takuma Sato/No.14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt.

Josef Newgarden's Chevrolet

Josef Newgarden’s Chevrolet

Sixth through tenth were Tony Kanaan/No.10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, Will Power/No.12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, James Hinchcliffe/No.5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, Sebastien Bourdais/No.11 California Baptist University-KVSH Chevrolet, and Josef Newgarden/No.21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet.

There were no penalties assessed during the race.

Pagenaud was issued an Official Warning by the IndyCar Stewards, for cutting over the yellow Pit Lane line when exiting onto the race track – characterized as some TV pundits as a block on the approaching car of Dixon. The move had been under review. Pagenaud’s actions were deemed “an infraction per Rule 7.10.1.1. “Lane Usage” of the INDYCAR Penalty Guidelines. Mike Hull, Managing Director of Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, spoke to the point in a TV interview at the time – “The drivers were told in the Drivers’ Meeting that an exit must be between the lines or a penalty issued.”

Carlos Munoz

Carlos Munoz

Carlos Munoz/No.26 Andretti Autosports Honda was also issued the same Official Warning.

An incident in Turn One between Sato, who had been chasing Montoya, went Under Review. No action taken.

After the race much time in the post-race media conference was spent discussing the Pit Lane Usage. All three podium drivers were asked, the INDYCAR moderator weighed in with the actual wording and INDYCAR issued a statement.

“Simon Pagenaud’s actions during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach were deemed an infraction per Rule 7.10.1.1 “Lane Usage” of the INDYCAR Penalty Guidelines: “Failing to follow designated procedures entering or exiting the pit area, including the proper use of the acceleration and deceleration lanes. The penalty for this infraction ranges from a warning (minimum), putting the driver to the back of the field (mid) and drive-through or stop and go/hold (maximum). INDYCAR Stewards determined Pagenaud’s actions were not deemed severe enough to warrant a harsher penalty than the warning that was issued.”

Simon Pagenaud

Pagenaud said “You know, going into the race, I know the rule book, so I know that that line, I know you can take risks. I know you can get on the limit. It’s just racing at the end of the day, and quite frankly, like I said, another inch to the right wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the race.”

Helio Castroneves

Castroneves said “I will not go into that. I don’t know. I don’t remember to be honest what they said. But certainly in practice we have to look — what we’ve got to do. I don’t recall.I will not go into that. In practice we have to look. I don’t recall. Do you guys have a question for me or not, because I’m not going to be discussing about the rules.”

Scott Dixon

Dixon said “Rules are rules and I just hate it when they get changed. This one is always clear. You could not put more than two wheels over the line and I thought we were clear on that. Obviously that scenario was a lot closer than we anticipated, and then when we got to Turn 1, it appeared that Simon turned a little early and crossed the line that you’re not meant to cross. But it is what it is, so second place today.”

Other quotable quotes.

Castroneves said “I had Push To Pass at the end, but couldn’t use it to save fuel.”

Roger Penske said, referring to Sunday’s sixth victory at Long Beach – “Now we’re tied with Ganassi – six each. Now we’re even.”

Chip Ganassi said “It was obviously a questionable call. I like the NASCAR rule – there’s a camera there. They’ve got a new group of Stewards up in the booth, and they have a difficult job. I’ll have a discussion and probably learn something I didn’t know.”

Sato said “It was nearly side by side at the finish line. We had a difficult passing session. I saved Push To Pass for the end.” He ended up with a left hand blister from all the driving action.

There was a lot of talk about the race being too short, the need for more pit stops and/or cautions, etc.

Graham Rahal's Honda

Graham Rahal/No.15 PennGrade Oil Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda 17th and finished 15th. “I made some mistakes today. We coasted across the finish line with no fuel. We need to make some changes (in the race) – make it longer, more pit stops, more action for the fans, not just cruising around. We needed a yellow flag.”

Hinchcliffe agreed with Rahal about the races. He said “Let’s go racing – longer racing, three pit stops, more action.”

Kanaan said “The race was a bit boring with no cautions. They (the fans) deserve a little bit better. It was a bit of a fuel race near the end to save gas. Maybe extend the race a little bit.”

Jim Michealian

Jim Michealian

The crowds have been stout. The good weather no doubt enhanced the viewer excitement along with it having the last-ever Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race. Jim Michaelian, President of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, will never give out actual attendance figures, but he hasn’t stopped smiling all weekend. After the race, he said it was a good weekend … a great weekend. Michaelian was a hands-on overseer all weekend, as he whizzed around the track – when he wasn’t strolling here and there, checking and observing. The ubiquitous TV remotes spoke of crowds reaching 180,000 for the weekend, and upwards of 80,000 on race day.

VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES Race Results

POS DRIVER MANUFACTURER LAPS

1 Simon Pagenaud Chevrolet 80
2 Scott Dixon Chevrolet 80
3 Helio Castroneves Chevrolet 80
4 Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet 80
5 Takuma Sato Honda 80
6 Tony Kanaan Chevrolet 80
7 Will Power Chevrolet 80
8 James Hinchcliffe Honda 80
9 Sebastien Bourdais Chevrolet 80
10 Josef Newgarden Chevrolet 80
11 Charlie Kimball Chevrolet 80
12 Carlos Munoz Honda 80
13 Conor Daly (R) Honda 80
14 Max Chilton (R) Chevrolet 80
15 Graham Rahal Honda 80
16 Mikhail Aleshin Honda 80
17 Luca Filippi Honda 80
18 Ryan Hunter-Reay Honda 80
19 Marco Andretti Honda 79
20 Alexander Rossi (R) Honda 79
21 Jack Hawksworth Honda 77

UNOFFICIAL VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES STANDINGS

POS DRIVER PTS

1 PAGENAUD, Simon 134
2 DIXON, Scott 120
3 MONTOYA, Juan Pablo 108
4 CASTRONEVES, Helio 92
5 KANAAN, Tony 82
6 SATO, Takuma 73
7 HUNTER-REAY, Ryan 68
8 POWER, Will 62
9 RAHAL, Graham 59
10 KIMBALL, Charlie 58

UNOFFICIAL SUNOCO ROOKIE STANDINGS

POS DRIVER PTS
1 Max Chilton 55
2 Conor Daly 49
3 Alexander Rossi 44
4 Spencer Pigot 16

RAHAL’S HOT

Graham Rahal Guest Meeting

Graham Rahal and Guests

Graham Rahal/No.15 PennGrade Motor Oil Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing was the fastest Verizon IndyCar Series driver Sunday morning during Warm-Up for the 42nd Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. This made him the first Honda driver to top the charts all weekend. His lap was 1:07.3319/105.222 mph. around the 1.968-mile street course. He was one of only five drivers who set their fastest time Sunday morning.

Firestone Temperature Monitor

The track was 80 degrees F on average, although depending on where the multiple sensors were installed, it was hotter or cooler depending on sun and shade. The ambient temperature was 74 degreees F at 8:45am local time, just prior to the half-hour session.

Afterwards Rahal cooled off in the shade of his transporter, meeting with hospitality guests while his crew fine-tuned the car for the afternoon race.

Graham Rahal

Graham Rahal

James Hinchcliffe

James Hinchcliffe

Second and third were Team Penske Racing Chevrolet teammates – pole sitter Helio Castroneves/No.3 Auto Club of Southern California and Juan Pablo Montoya/No.2 Verizon. Another Honda driver, James Hinchcliffe/No.5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports was fourth, followed by 2015 IndyCar Champion, Scott Dixon/No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Chevrolet.

All twenty-one drivers were on course. Rahal and three other drivers turned the most laps – 23: Sebastien Bourdais/No.11 California Baptist University-KVSH Chevrolet; Simon Pagenaud/No.22 PPG AutomotiveFinishTeam Penske Chevrolet; and Rookie Max Chilton/No.8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. Turning the fewest laps were Ryan Hunter-Reay/No.28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda and Jack Hawksworth/No.41 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda at 17 each.

Overall for the weekend, Will Power/No.12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet is still fastest and the only driver to break into the 1:06’s-1:06.8892/105.918 mph set in Practice 3. Rahal is fifth overall in the combined results and still the top Honda for the weekend.

The top Rookie in Warm-Up was Alexander Rossi/No.98 Castrol Edge/Curb Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb Agajanian Honda, in sixteenth place. Chilton was eighteenth, and Conor Daly/No.18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Dale Coyne Racing Honda was nineteenth.

Conor Daly's Honda

The Warm-Up session isn’t known for setting hot laps, but rather warming up and scuffing in tires, practicing pit stops, tweaking cars, fine tuning and putting to right everything needs be. There are no points for winning Warm-Up.

The front straight timing and scoring issues from Saturday afternoon’s sessions have been resolved; and the timing line has been moved back to the front straight by the Starter Stand. It had been moved to the back straight during IndyCar Qualifying.

Next up is the 80-lap race at 1:30pm local time/4pm ET. Dixon is defending his 2015 Long Beach victory.

SP CAR DRIVER CAR TIRES
1 3 CASTRONEVES, Helio D/C/C/F Alternate
2 9 DIXON, Scott D/C/C/F Alternate
3 22 PAGENAUD, Simon D/C/C/F Alternate
4 10 KANAAN, Tony D/C/C/F Alternate
5 2 MONTOYA, Juan Pablo D/C/C/F Alternate
6 12 POWER, Will D/C/C/F Alternate
7 5 HINCHCLIFFE, James D/H/H/F Alternate
8 14 SATO, Takuma D/H/H/F Alternate
9 21 NEWGARDEN, JOSEF D/C/C/F Primary
10 26 MUNOZ, Carlos D/H/H/F Primary
11 28 HUNTER-REAY, Ryan D/H/H/F Alternate
12 19 FILIPPI, Luca D/H/H/F Primary
13 18 DALY, CONOR (R) D/H/H/F Primary
14 11 BOURDAIS, Sebastien D/C/C/F Primary
15 83 KIMBALL, Charlie D/C/C/F Primary
16 98 ROSSI, Alexander (R) D/H/H/F Primary
17 15 RAHAL, Graham D/H/H/F Alternate
18 7 ALESHIN, Mikhail D/H/H/F Primary
19 8 CHILTON, Max (R) D/C/C/F Primary
20 41 HAWKSWORTH, Jack D/H/H/F Primary
21 27 ANDRETTI, Marco D/H/H/F Alternate

(R) Rookie

HELIO ON POLE AND TROUBLED TIMES

Helio Castroneves

Helio Castroneves

There’s a saying “Timing is Everything” which proved to be the case Saturday during IndyCar qualifying, literally and figuratively. Several drivers had highs and lows and visa versa, all controlled by timing and scoring.

Helio Castroneves/No.3 Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet has the Verizon P1 Pole Position for Sunday’s Verizon IndyCar Race at the 42nd Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. He almost didn’t. His pole lap was 1:07.1246/105.547 mph. He took the Checkered Flag in Turn Nine in the Firestone Fast 6 Qualifying Round, after IndyCar had to move the official Timing Line to the transponder loop on the back straight due to problems at the Start-Finish line.

This was the second consecutive pole for Castroneves this season, and second consecutive/ third overall for him at Long Beach, making his total now 47. Castroneves is fourth overall in pole positions, behind third place Bobby Unser, who has 49.

In Victory Circle, Castroneves said “Definitely it was a bit hard because of the yellow/red flag. It was phenomenal. It’s so cool to see so many people here already.”

The Firestone Fast 6 finishers were Castroneves, Scott Dixon/No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, Simon Pagenaud/No.22 PPG Automotive Finishes Team Penske Chevrolet, Tony Kanaan/No.10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, Juan Pablo Montoya/No.2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, and Will Power/No.12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.

Earlier, in Round Two of Qualifying, Castroneves’ name briefly fell below the magic six cutoff until a problem with IndyCar Timing & Scoring had been resolved. The monitor went from showing six drivers with Montoya on top, followed by Pagenaud, Power, Newgarden, Hunter-Reay, and Dixon, with Castroneves not making the Firestone Fast Six. The times weren’t all that great. Then the list briefly recalibrated – with a different top six list – all Chevy drivers, including Castroneves – with faster times. Then all six showed No Time. Castroneves went from zero to hero.

And then in the Firestone Fast 6 session, with less than two minutes to go in the ten-minute session, Will Power spun out in turn Nine, bringing out the Red Flag. Once that was cleared, IndyCar announced that Power lost his two fastest laps and wasn’t allowed to continued. The other drivers were allowed to go back out for one timed lap.

Later, in the Press Conference, Castroneves was more open about his confusion. “Qualifying was good until the last session. Will made a mistake, and the five minutes guaranteed were out, and the rules say when the five minutes guaranteed are over, the session is over, so I don’t understand how the rule — how did the rule work. So you’d better explain it to me because the rule book says when the five minutes guaranteed are over, the session is over. Like that, I should be P-3. It wasn’t a great lap, but the five minutes guaranteed were done.”

Scott Dixon

Scott Dixon

Simon Pagenaud

Simon Pagenaud

Tony Kanaan

Tony Kanaan

Juan Pablo Montoya

Juan Pablo Montoya

Dixon said “We could have had it if the qualifying had carried through. We had the speed for pole. But front row is a good place to start and hopefully we can replicate the race from last year.”

Pagenaud said “Yeah, it was an interesting Fast Six. We locked in one lap. Luckily that was good for P-3. But yeah, I was concerned. We didn’t have a lap in when the red came out. I’m happy with third right now because I really thought we were getting sixth.”

Montoya said “When you look at the practice, we were all — all the cars were the fastest cars normally in practice. Our car is good.”

Will Power

Will Power

A hapless Power starts sixth, with No Time. He spun in Turn Nine in the Firestone Fast 6. He said “I kind of went a bit deep and didn’t want to take a risk and hit the wall and tried to spin it back around. I thought it was all over then anyway because once you cause a yellow you lose your best two laps. But that’s okay. I always seem to start way back. It’s not way back this year. It’s a lot better than the previous two or three years. At least I’m in the top six.”

Takuma Sato's Honda

Takuma Sato’s Honda

The top Honda was James Hinchcliffe/No.5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, placing seventh. The other two Hondas in the top ten were Takuma Sato/No.14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing, ranking eighth, and Carlos Munoz/No.26 Andretti Autosport in tenth. Josef Newgarden/No.21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet slotted in ninth.

Munoz said “I have kind-of a two-way feeling. I’m disappointed. It was an okay qualifying, especially after Practice 3. We were really good in Qualifying Round 1, we were the second fastest car and everyone was really close with each other.”

The weather was hot and breezy, and the track was 121 degrees F.

Each of the two groups had ten minutes in the first go-round to throw down a killer lap fast enough to make the next round. No one in Group One made it into the 1:06’s. In Group Two, Power finally broke that barrier, although not as fast as his morning’s top time.

All three Rookies missed the first cut. Conor Daly/No.18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Dale Coyne Racing Honda starts thirteenth. Alexander Rossi/No.98 Castrol Edge/Curb Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Honda is gridded sixteenth. Max Chilton/No.8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet starts nineteenth.

Sebastien Bourdais

Sebastien Bourdais

Sebastien Bourdais/No.11 California Baptist University-KVSH Chevrolet suffered a blow. Several minutes after making the cut in Group Two in P5, he was told that his last/fastest lap didn’t count as he took the checkered flag two seconds before he started that lap. He said “I am disappointed for the guys. They worked really hard. On the replay you can see that the checkered flag falls behind me, but apparently the checkered flag is not in sync with timing and scoring. As far as I am concerned I didn’t go by the checkered flag twice. It is just different reference points. We thought we were clear, but apparently I wasn’t.”

Two of the eligible 12 cars for Round Two didn’t go out – Lucca Filippi/No.19 Boy Scouts of America Dale Coyne Racing Honda and Carlos Munoz/No.26 Andretti Autosport Honda.

Sunday morning IndyCar has a half-hour Warm Up at 9am local time.

Pirelli World Challenge has the Replay XD Grand Prix at Long Beach presented by Cadillac – a 50-minute sprint race. IndyCar has its pre-race activities leading up to the 1:37 Green Flag drop for the 80-lap race. Live TV coverage starts at 1pm local time/4pm ET on NBCSN. Rick Allen will be announcing in the booth, with Townsend Bell and Paul Drivers as analysts. In the pits will be Marty Snider, Kevin Lee, Katie Hargitt and Robin Miller.

Verizon P1 Pole Award

UNOFFICIAL QUALIFYING RESULTS

Rank Car Driver Name C/A/E/T Time Speed Session
1 3 Castroneves, Helio D/C/C/F 01:07.1246 105.547 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
2 9 Dixon, Scott D/C/C/F 01:07.4455 105.045 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
3 22 Pagenaud, Simon D/C/C/F 01:07.7410 104.587 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
4 10 Kanaan, Tony D/C/C/F 01:07.7951 104.503 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
5 2 Montoya, Juan Pablo D/C/C/F 01:07.9054 104.333 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
6 12 Power, Will D/C/C/F No Time No Speed Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
7 5 Hinchcliffe, James D/H/H/F 01:07.1415 105.520 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
8 14 Sato, Takuma D/H/H/F 01:07.2299 105.382 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
9 21 Newgarden, Josef D/C/C/F 01:07.2548 105.343 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
10 26 Munoz, Carlos D/H/H/F 01:07.2663 105.325 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
11 28 Hunter-Reay, Ryan D/H/H/F 01:07.3171 105.245 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
12 19 Filippi, Luca D/H/H/F 01:07.9660 104.240 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
13 18 Daly, Conor (R) D/H/H/F 01:07.7520 104.570 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
14 11 Bourdais, Sebastien D/C/C/F 01:07.6432 104.738 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
15 83 Kimball, Charlie D/C/C/F 01:07.8065 104.486 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
16 98 Rossi, Alexander (R) D/H/H/F 01:07.6872 104.670 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
17 15 Rahal, Graham D/H/H/F 01:07.8841 104.366 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
18 7 Aleshin, Mikhail D/H/H/F 01:07.8513 104.417 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
19 8 Chilton, Max (R) D/C/C/F 01:08.3843 103.603 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
20 41 Hawksworth, Jack D/H/H/F 01:07.9929 104.199 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
21 27 Andretti, Marco D/H/H/F 01:08.2045 103.876 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
(R) Rookie
Pursuant to Rule 8.3.5, Car 12 best two lap times invalidated in his session.

STILL POWERFUL

Shoreline Drive

Will Power/No.12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet was again the fastest Verizon IndyCar driver Saturday morning, with a time of 1:06.8892. The times were definitely faster than Friday, with ten drivers faster than Power’s fastest time Friday afternoon. He was the only driver to drop down into the 1:06’s.

Mikhail Aleshin

Mikhail Aleshin

At the Checkered Flag, it was Team Penske Chevrolets on top: Power, Simon Pagenaud/No.22 PPG Automotive Finish Team Penske, Helio Castroneves/No.3 Auto Club of Southern California, Juan Pablo Montoya/No.2 Verizon Team Penske and the lone Honda in the top five – Mikhail Aleshin/No.7SMP Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. On the last lap Aleshin barely kissed the concrete wall onto the straight and continued to the pits.

Ryan Hunter-Reay

Ryan Hunter-Reay

The session was interrupted by two Red Flags lasting 9.59 minutes, and the drivers were given an additional three minutes of track time. Ryan Hunter-Reay/No.28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda clipped the tire wall. He continued into the pits for repairs and got back on course. He ended the session in fourteenth.

Graham Rahal

Graham Rahal

Graham Rahal/No.15 PennGrade Motor Oil Rahal Letterman Lanigan led briefly at the half-hour mark, with a 1:07.4066, perhaps the first fastest Honda all weekend. However, ten minutes later Rahal crashed the concrete wall exiting Turn Nine, and had to be towed. His time held for sixth place. “I got a big snap and lost it into the marbles and the wall. Those marbles feel like ice and you go dead straight. Those Drift Cars lead a lot of marbles. I’m good.” The Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge Competition cars perform nightly between 7-9pm on Turns Nine, Ten and Eleven to a wildly enthusiastic crowd.

All 21 drivers made good use of the forty-five minute session. Rahal turned the most laps of any driver – 65. Jack Hawksworth/No.41 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda turned the fewest – 40.

Max Chilton's Car

Max Chilton/No.8Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet was the top Rookie, in eighteenth. the other two, Americans Connor Daly/No18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Dale Coyne Racing, and Alexander Rossi/No.98 Castrol Edge/Curb Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian ended up twentieth and twenty-first.

It was warm and sunny with a lilting breeze from the start Saturday. Optimum fan-friendly weather. The crowds are out. One astute observer commented that never had so many TV shows been seen and heard doing live remotes from the race track. There certainly is a carnival atmosphere on and around the race track. One would have to be a hermit not to know the Grand Prix is in town.

Next up for IndyCar is Qualifying at 2pm local (Pacific) time. There will be two groups, ten in Group One and eleven in Group Two. Then the Firestone Fast 6.