PHOTO BY PABLO MATAMOROS
Sunday’s weather in Long Beach for the 44th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach was just right – sunny and warm with no wind. Alexander Rossi/No.27 NAPA Auto Parts Andretti Autosport Honda was again fastest in the morning warm-up for the Verizon IndyCar Series. His time of 1:07.5366/104.903 mph wasn’t meant to break records, but for shake down and race settings. So it’s no surprise that the fastest time all weekend for all drivers was Saturday morning in Practice Three. Scott Dixon/No.9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda was second, and had led for much of the half-hour session. Third through fifth were Ryan Hunter-Reay/No.28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda, Josef Newgarden/No.1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet and and his Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud/No.22 DXC Technology Chevrolet.
The drivers took full advantage of the session, all turning double-digit laps, ranging from 12 to 21. It was drama-free. At the end of the very narrow one-lane Pit Lane pedestrian walkway, the camerman deftly maneuvered the boom camera showing the cars entering and exiting the pits.
The top Rookie was Zachary Claman De Melo/No.19 The Paysafe Car Dale Coyne Racing Honda, in twelfth place.
Nine of the drivers will start the race on the Primary Tire, including the top Rookie, Robert Wickens/No.6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda; while the majority of the 24 drivers will use the Alternates including the Fast Six starters. The Firestone tires are the same as used in St. Petersburg. Each team will have seven sets of Primary tires and four sets of Alternates. The seven Rookies will receive an extra set. In all, Firestone brought more than 1,500 tires to Long Beach.
The IndyCar two-seater cars this weekend are being driven by Mario Andretti, Arie Luyendyk, Jr; Davey Hamilton, Jr. and Indy Lights driver, Juan Piedrahita. Luyendyk and Hamilton are also racing in the Stadium Truck Series.
Luyendyk finished second in Saturday afternoon’s USAC-sanctioned Stadium truck race, which was checkered early after a truck rolled over.No one was hurt. It appeared that the aborted finish half-way through the 20-minute race was not a popular decision with the fans or competitors, based on the boos from the grandstands and comments post-race. The winner was Gavin Harlein. Matthew Brabham is still the points leader, and he also wasn’t happy about the shortened race. They’re all looking forward to Sunday’s race after the IndyCar race.
In Saturday’s BUBBA burger Sportscar Grand Prix at Long Beach, it was a General Motors sweep, winning both classes. The overall and Prototype winners were Joao Barbosa and Filipe Albuquerque in No.5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi. In the GTLM class, Oliver Gavin took his fiftieth Corvette victory with co-driver Tommy Milner in No.4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R.
Albuquerque’s overall/Prototype Margin of Victory ahead of Scott Sharp and Ryan Dalziel/No.2 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan DP was 4.766 seconds. Third finishers in Prototypes and overall were Jordan Taylor and Renger Van Der Zande in No.10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. The Pole Sitters Juan Montoya and Dane Cameron/No.6 Acura Team Penske Acura DPi finished fifth overall. Felipe Nasr/No.31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi turned the fastest Prototype and overall race lap of 1:13.492/96.402 mph.
In the GTLM Class, second and third finishers were Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe in No.67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT; and GTLM Pole Sitters Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller in the sister No.66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT. Hand turned the fastest GTLM race lap of 1:17.640/91.251 mph.