Will Power/No.12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet jumped on top of the Verizon IndyCar Series lap chart near the end of the second 45-minute Verizon IndyCar Series practice Friday at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. His time was 1:07.0800/105.617 mph, which was faster than last year’s Verizon P1 lap of 1:07.1246 set by teammate Helio Castroneves. Power and five other drivers went faster than the fastest morning lap set by Scott Dixon/No.9 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Second fastest, also on a last-minute flyer, was Marco Andretti/No.27 United Fiber & Data Andretti Autosport Honda, at 1:07.3576. Third through fifth were Simon Pagenaud/No.1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet; Takuma Sato/No.26 Andretti Autosport Honda; and Ryan Hunter-Reay/No.28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda.
Dixon was one of three drivers who didn’t go faster in the second session; but he was the first to turn a 1:07 in P2, finishing sixth overall, Fourteen drivers lowered to the 1:07’s. Ed Jones was the fastest, and only, Rookie, in twenty-first position. He also turned his fastest practice lap in the morning session, along with Mikhail Aleshin/No,7 SMP racing Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. JR Hildebrand/No.21 Preferred Freezer Service Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet turned the most laps – 24 in session Two and 45 laps overall – the only driver to hit the forty/forty-plus lap mark.
Ten drivers went to the top in Practice Two. Often, as the faster cars went out later in the session, they quickly moved to the top, including Takuma Sato/No.26 Andretti Autosport Honda who topped the charts twice. The second time Sato led, he was the first driver to go faster in the Second Practice.
Conor Daly/No.4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet lost his fast qualifying lap due to a problem on over boost on his fast qualy. Tony Kanaan/No.10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing also lost his fastest lap for being responsible for the Red Flag of 2.21 minute, when he pulled into a Runoff area. James Hinchcliffe/No.5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda also ran off in a runoff area, and quickly executed a near-perfect ‘Formula 1 U Turn’ and continued on his way. No Harm, No Foul.
Colton Herta, 16, is one of the new faces in the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires Series, and fresh off two good results at the season’s opener races in St. Petersburg. He came in second in the first race, after starting sixth; and won the second race from the pole position, driving the No.98 Andretti Steinbrenner Mazda. With that victory, he celebrated as the youngest-ever winner in the Indy Lights Series.
George Michael Steinbrenner IV has a passion for baseball and racing; and yes, he’s from ‘that’ New York family. He has been around racing for quite a while, and had some idea of how it worked before he decided to try it on for size. Last year Steinbrenner’s stepfather, Sean Jones, co-owned a RallyCross team with Bran Herta, and Steinbrenner worked with the team. He is the grandson of New York Yankees owner, George Steinbrenner, and the step-grand-son of the late Chuck Jones, who spent years in racing including as a partner in Mo Nunn Ensign in Formula One 1975-1985.
Young Steinbrenner said “Colton (Herta) seems like a good way to jump into racing team ownership. I knew Bryan (Herta) a few years before Colton. I went to Lime Rock Park back in the day, to watch Colton at Skip Barber and all his other American racing series before he went overseas. And now he’s back in America. I was always more interested in the behind-the-scenes aspect of baseball rather than playing. Driving a car wasn’t as fascinating to me as the management side.”
The young Steinbrenner, from Tampa, FL., grew up as a racing fan. His step-grand father, the late Chuck Jones, had a lengthy racing career which included being a partner at Mo Nunn Ensign in Formula One from 1975-85.”
Colton’s father, Bryan, won the Indy Lights Championship in 1993, and as a team owner won the Indianapolis 500 twice – in 2011 with the late Dan Weldon, and last year with Rookie Alexander Rossi.
Colton Herta said he’s itching to get back into the car. He lives nearby Long Beach, so to him it’s unfortunate that the Indy Lights Series is not running here this weekend.” Herta said “It was huge to be working with so many big, house-hold names, such as Andretti, Steinbrenner and his dad, Bryan Herta. Being around all of them in one team brings resources in the form of tutoring and mentoring. There’s not a huge pressure to excel, as I grew up around racers. It’s a bit more relaxed here than in overseas. The taking of photographs inside the garage and paddock in F1 is new this year; but here in America, there’s more access. European and American driving styles are not different. But over there it’s more intense; and you can get away with a bit more over there. It’s a little bit more sheltered over there. Our goal is to take Colton to the Indy 500 in a couple of years …or sooner, if he wins the Mazda Road to Indy Scholarship.” Looks like they’re off to a good start!