ACURAS RULE!

Acura Team Penske cars

The Acura Team Penske teammates pretty much dominated the penultimate round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, starting and finishing first and second – but not in their qualifying order. The winner was Dane Cameron from Northern California, with co-driver Juan Pablo Montoya in No.7 Acura. The pole position car came in second, with Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves. Third was Philipe Derani in No.31 in Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac with Felipe Nasr. He had been chasing Ricky Taylor/No. 10 Minolta Konica Cadillac for much of the race, and passed him in the last 11 minutes. The Margin of Victory was 9.84 seconds and the leader ran 121 laps. The top six cars finished on the lead lap.

Dane Cameron

Cameron’s victory cinched the manufacturer’s championship for Acura.

The weather was clearly much milder than previous days, at 71 F degrees ambient and 84 F track temperatures. The 270-mile race race green, with no Safety Cars.

This was the 15th sports car victory for Cameron, a lucky 13 in the WeatherTech Series. For teammate JPM, it was his sixth in sports cars, and third in WeatherTech. The veteran driver was motivated, as Montoya turned the fastest DPi race lap on Lap 5 at 105.096 mph.

Cameron said “It feels pretty good to win here. It’s especially satisfying to win here after giving away that one a couple of years ago. I grew up in Sonoma, just a few hours north of here. I spent a lot of times here as a kid watching Champ Car races and Formula Atlantics and stuff. I probably watched this guy (referring to his teammate) and Helio in IndyCars when they were here. So it’s nice to get the prototype victory.” Cameron has won here at Laguna Seca, but in GT cars. This was his first prototype win.

Montoya said “It’s a big relief before Petit (Petit Le Mans.) We made sure we had tires at the end.”

There were seven overall lead changes among four drivers: Cameron-75 laps; Ricky Taylor/No.7 Acura-38 laps; Jordan Taylor/No.10 Minolta Konica Cadillac-1 lap; and Tristan Nunez/No.77 Mazda Team Joest-7 laps.

No.52 LMP2 ORECA

In LMP2, with only the two ORECA cars, both made the podium. Matthew McMurray took the Checkered Flag in No.52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA, with teammate Dalton Kellett. McMurray said the cooler temperatures didn’t help that much for tire management. Runner up was Cameron Cassels in No.38 Performance Tech Motorsports, with co-driver Kyle Masson, who turned the fastest LMP2 race lap of 101.764 mph.

Dirk Mueller & Joey Hand

Dirk Mueller & Joey Hand

This was the Joey Hand’s and his team’s first GTLM win this season in No.66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, with co-driver Dirk Mueller. “I’ve been trying since 1998 to win here on my home track. This is more about the people around me, more so about the team. It didn’t start out well. It was pretty bad at first. We went from worst car here to best car here. This is my race for camping here, with my wife and friends. This one really feels really good. This track stands out on any race calendar, but especially for me a California guy.”

No.66 Chip Ganassi Ford GT

Tommy Milner/No.4 Corvette Racing Corvette C7 R ran the fastest GTLM race lap of 97.660 mph.

In the last ten minutes of the race, it was Gutsy GT driving, with the two factory Corvettes, Antonio Garcia No.3 and Tommy Milner/No.4 with John Edwards in No.24 Team RLL BMW – and slicing, dicing, chasing, side by side, nose to tail, nearly or maybe actually touching, but keeping it on the pavement and in forward motion. Fun to watch! In the end, Edwards prevailed ahead of Garcia and Milner, finishing second through fourth in class.

Corey Lewis & Bryan Sellers

Corey Lewis & Bryan Sellers

Bryan Sellars won GTD class in No.48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini, with co-driver Corey Lewis, who also ran the Lamborghini Super Trofeo race race. Lewis said each car completely different. The Trofeo series car was a street chassis. Sellars said their GTD win was a credit to the engineer, controlling tire degradation. “I think you have to look at this race, a lot of times it’s put on drivers. A lot of times it’s put on crew. But I have to say today it was all down to our engineer, Lars Giersing. He did a fantastic job, the car was great. One of the things we focused on this week was tire degradation and we were able to just run consistent and ultimately that was what was able to get us the win.”

No.48 Paul Miller Lamborghini

Sunday started very differently than the previous three days, in that not only was there fog, there was a deep layer of fog so pervasive that the start was delayed five minutes, after which the fog lifted just enough for visibility corner to corner. The ambient temperature was 57 degrees F and the track was only 60 degrees F. Five drivers chose not to go out. Felipe Albuquerque/No.5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac was the fastest DPi with a lap of 1:16.830; Dalton Kellett/No.52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA Cadillac was fastest in LMP2, at 1:20.030. Joey Hand, a local NorCal driver, topped GTLM with a lap of 123.193 in No.66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT. Joe Holton’s fast time of 1:25.751 was best for GTLD, driving No.76 Compass Racing McLaren.

IMSA Foggy Pre Grid

No.5, No.76 driving into the fog to Turn 4

Foggy Warmup

Foggy Mountain Breakdown

All cars passed Tech, and there are no updated standings for the Driver’s Championship.

The IMSA season finale is Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, a 10-hour endurance race on 12 October 2019. It will be televised live on NBC starting at noon ET.

RICKY’S RECORD RUN

Pole Car No.7 Acura Team Penske

Ricky Taylor put the No.7 Acura Team Penske Acura DPi on the pole for Sunday’s IMSA Monterey Grand Prix with a record lap of 1:15.035. This broke the record set last year by his brother, Jordan.Taylor’s teammate is Helio Castroneves. The No.6 sister car will start on the front row based on the time set by Juan Pablo Montoya. JPM had been fastest overall Friday at 1:16.003 on the 2.238-mile elevated road course for the penultimate round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which just happens to be running at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Montoya’s teammate is Dane Cameron who grew up racing on the Monterey race track.

Ricky Taylor

This is the fourth pole position for Team Penske, with each of the four drivers now having scored one. Taylor was the last of the four to get a pole, and he felt it was his turn “to pull his weight.” His race strategy includes “keeping the tires under us, and be there at the end.”

No.7 Acura Team Penske DPi

No.7 Acura Team Penske

No. Acura Team Penske DPi

Third through fifth in the DPi class were Jordan Taylor, with co-driver Renger van de Zande in No.10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R; Tristan Nunez in No.77 Mazda Team Joest DPi, with teammate Olier Jarvis; and Felipe Nasr in No.31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi, with co-driver Pipo Derani.

Kyle Masson put No.38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA on the LMP2 pole at 1:16.817. His co-driver is Cameron Cassels.

Jesse Krohn is the pole sitter for GTLM in No.24 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE, with co-driver John Edwards.His lap was 1:21.557.

Corey Lewis is on the GTD pole with Bryan Sellers in No.48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3, at 1:24.962.

Thirty-one of the 32 drivers qualified. Patrick Lindsey crashed No.73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R in Turn 10. He spun out and hit the concrete wall near the grid gate hard three times. The car damage included all four corners with all wheels going in different directions. It took 13 people to load up the car onto the rollback tow truck.

Justin Bell & Tommy Kendall

Two people who will no doubt be talking about young drivers Ricky Taylor and Conor Daly are Justin Bell and Tommy Kendall, hosts of The Torque Show, which will air at least once daily during the Monterey weekend. It is live streaming and covers every round of the IMSA Series.

The Lamborghini Super Trofeo Race was won by Conor Daly/No.46 Precision Performance Motorsports and teammate Brandon Gdovic, racing in the Pro Class. His Margin of Victory was 1.825 seconds ahead of Corey Lewis/No.29 and co-driver Richy Antinucci in the Pro/Am Class. Daly turned the fastest race lap of 1:25.865/93.830 mph. Gdovic had started the race third on the grid. The race was live-streamed on imsatv or squadracorse.lamborghini.com/live-streaming with commentary from IMSA Radio. Daly will start Sunday’s race on pole.

Other class winners were James Sofronas racing by himself in No.14 GMG Racing in the Am and he turned the fastest race lap in that class – 1:26.657/92.973 moh; and Ashton Harrison/No.43 Prestige Performance/WTR in the LB Cup class, who turned its fastest race lap of 1:27.730/91.836 mph. His co-driver was Stephanie Cemo.

Conor DalyAfterwards Daly said it was nice racing again on the iconic circuit. He hadn’t raced here for many years, the last being in 2004. Daly loves Laguna Seca, saying it is a very technical track.

Daly is slated to race the Laguna round of IndyCar next weekend, reuniting him with Andretti Autosport. The Lamborghini rounds at Laguna Seca being at Laguna one week ahead of Daly’s IndyCar run wasn’t part of the plan when Daly signed on for the Lamborghini series back in February. At that time he had nothing firmed up for the season. Daly is slated to race the Laguna round of IndyCar next weekend, reuniting him with Andretti Autosport.

Sunday’s schedule calls for Warmups, Driver Autograph session, another IMSA Fan Walk, track VIP Hot Laps, and some racing – Lamborghini’s second race, the feature Monterey SportsCar Championship Powered by McLaren race lasting 2 hours 40 minutes, followed by the second Porsche race. The IMSA race starts at 12:05 pm local time/3:05pm ET. This is the first time an IMSA race has been shown live on NBC TV.

ROSSI ROCKETS … and OTHER RESULTS

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Alexander Rossi/No.27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Andretti Autosport Honda has the pole for Sunday’s Acura Grand Prix at Long Beach with a 1:06.4811/106.569 mph, a flyer lap he’d started when the Checkered Flag flew. Rossi is last year’s winner, from the pole. This is Rossi’s fifth career pole, and three of those five poles ended up with a victory. This was the fortieth IndyCar pole for Andretti Autosport. Rossi said “This pole was exponentially harder to win than last year’s … so this one was more special.”

Rossi nosed by Scott Dixon/No.9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda who was looking to be on pole. While the top four of the Firestone Fast Six ran in the 1:06’s, the 2017 record of 106.2254/106.980 mph set by Helio Castroneves still holds.

The top six qualifiers are: Rossi; Dixon; the three Team Penske Chevrolets of Will Power/No.12 Verizon, Josef Newgarden/No.2 Hitachi, and Simon Pagenaud/No.22 DXC Technology; and Graham Rahal/No.15 Total Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda. So it’s three Hondas and three Chevrolets on top. They all went out on the Red/Optional Firestone tires. Rossi ran two sets of reds in the Firestone Fast Six.

Alexander Rossi

Scott Dixon

Will Power

Josef Newgarden

Simon Pagenaud

Graham Rahal

In the Fast Six Presser, the drivers were all in such good moods and joking among themselves that it was questioned. Such camaraderie is not prevalent in other top tier series. They all seemed surprised by the question. “Of course we’re happy. We made the Firestone Fast Six.” It’s become a trite, but true, opinion that the IndyCar Series is such a competitive series with so many top drivers, that with such tight racing, any number of drivers could win – unlike F1 for example. So when drivers make the Fast Six, they are happy.

The fastest Rookie was Patricio O’Ward/No.31 Carlin Racing Chevrolet, in ninth position. He made it to Segment Two, where he was in early on and then was bumped.

There were two Red Flags in qualifying, both for drivers hitting a wall. The first one was for Tony Kanaan/No.14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet, in the first Segment, in Turn 6, and the second was Rookie Felix Rosenqvist/No.10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda in the second Segment. Each lost their two fastest laps as penalty. Both drivers admitted it was their fault, apologized, and are working to make up for it in tomorrow’s race.

Ryan Hunter-Reay/No.28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda was one of those who missed out of making the cut at the very last. ‘It was a bummer – definitely scratching our heads over that one.”

Felix Albuquerque and Joao Barbosa

Felix Albuquerque and Joao Barbosa

Felipe Albuquerque/No.5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac won the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach race Saturday afternoon. His co-driver is Joao Barbosa. They ran the 73-lap race. The duo won last year’s race at Long Beach, and this is their first victory since that.

Dane Cameron & Juan Pablo Montoya

Dane Cameron & Juan Pablo Montoya

Second and third in class were the two Acura Team Penske Acuras, with pole sitters Ricky Taylor/No.7 and co-driver Helio Castroneves as runners-up, and Dane Cameron/No.6 and co-driver Juan Pablo Montoya coming in third.. There were eleven DP1 cars, and six finished on the lead laps. Nine of the 11 finished, with two out early on due to accidents. No one was hurt.

Winning the GTLM class was Earl Bamber/No.912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR with co-driver Laurens Vanthoor. Second and third were Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R teammates Jan Magnussen/No.3 with co-driver Antonio Garcia and No.4. Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin. There were eight cars, with the three podium cars finishing on the lead lap, one lap down from the overall winners. One GTLM car retired on the last GTLM lap due to an accident on the white flag lap. Dirk Mueller/No.66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT was hit by a Corvette and hit the wall. Mueller’s co-driver was Sebastien Bourdais, loaned from the IndyCar Series to fill in for ailing Joey Hand.

Earl Bamber & Laurens Vanthoor

Earl Bamber & Laurens Vanthoor

In the Pirelli GT America Series, Spencer Pumpelly/No.66 TRG Porsche 718 Cayman CS MR has the pole position with a lap of 1:25.916/132.75 kph. Second and third were Team Panoz Avezzano GT4 drivers Ian James/No.50 and Matt Keegan. All drivers are from North America – 19 American men and one Canadian female. Several of the drivers are also running in the Historic IMSA GTO Race.

Matt Keegan, Spencer Pumpelly & Ian James

L-R: Matt Keegan, Spencer Pumpelly & Ian James

FASTER YET

Alexander Rossi

The lap times fell fast Saturday morning for the third NTT IndyCar Series practice session at the 45th Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. It was already 65 degrees F at 9am and all 23 drivers went faster in this 45-minute session than they had in the previous two. All but two drivers got down to the 1:07’s, compared to four on Friday afternoon. The qualifying track record of 1:06.2254 was set by Helio Castroneves in April 2017. Friday afternoon at Long Beach Castroneves, now racing an Acura for Team Penske in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, broke the IMSA DP1 track record and is on pole for Saturday afternoon sprint race.

With only seconds to go, Alexander Rossi/No.27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Andretti Autosport Honda laid down the fastest lap of 1:07.0588. He pipped Graham Rahal/No.15 Total Rahal Letterman Laningan Racing Honda who had just hit the top of the charts with two minutes remaining. The top Rookie was Colton Herta/No.88 Harding Steinbrenner Racing Honda, in seventh position.

The top ten were Rossi, Rahal, Scott Dixon/No.9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Ryan Hunter-Reay/No.28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda, Simon Pagenaud/DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet, Joseph Newgarden/No.2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, Herta, Rookie Felix Rosenqvist/No.10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Rookie Patricio O’Ward/No.31 GESS Carlin Chevrolet, and Will Power/No.12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.

The session was caution-free with no drama. Next up for IndyCar will be afternoon qualifying for Sunday’s 85-lap race.

Jon Ikeda, Acura Brand Manager, met with the media. It’s only been 65 days from the time Acura was announced as the title sponsor for the 45th running of the street race. Ikeda worked in Honda R&D for 26 years before moving into Sales. With Acura being the performance division of Honda, it wanted to refocus on the performance aspect of the brand. Honda started with the NSX car, and then moved into IMSA with Team Penske’s DPi program. Now Acura is the title sponsor for the Long Beach race. Ikeda lauded Toyota’s curating the race over the years; and praised the city of Long Beach and promoters of the race and their working with Acura to make the title sponsorship happen. He said it is a great foundation to build on, and Acura feels it can add new things and dimensions to what the race has been about. One way Acura is putting its imprint on the race is changing the Toyota red and white color scheme to blue. And over time, Acura would like to do some new and different things, amplify and innovate, bringing in whatever is new and enhance the whole experience.

For Acura, Long Beach is its home race, with its offices nearby in Torrance. Acura knew Toyota was leaving and Acura had a lot of discussions internally on how it wanted to approach it. And Acura felt Jim Michaelian and the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach went through its own list. “We came full circle. We just said ‘This is the right thing. We would like to work with you.’ Ikeda said “It was a match made in heaven. You could see how the teams at Acura and the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach were working together to make this come together so quickly. It’s been a fantastic decision and choice for us.”

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Helio Castroneves/No.7 Acura Team Penske Acura has the DPI pole for Saturday’s BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach. He had a record-breaking time of 1:11.332. He broke the record set last year by his Penske teammate, Juan Pablo Montoya. “Records are hard work and meant to be broken.” He was super pumped about the significance of his pole. “The Acura. What a great combination to be in an Acura at the Acura Grand Prix. There are a lot of people to be here.” Castroneves’ co-driver is Ricky Taylor. When asked about his former fellow IndyCar driver, Sebastien Bourdais, doing double duty this weekend, Castroneves said it was more natural for Sebastien to be jumping from one car to another as he drove sports cars on a more regular basis. However, Castroneves did admit to carrying a separate helmet and suit with him to double series weekends.

Nick Tandy

Nick Tandy/No.911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR has the GTLM pole position with a lap of 1:16.377. He spoke about the track surface. He said “The IMSA drivers are usually the street sweepers on Friday being the first series on track on the first day. I found that the promoters had had the track swept quite clean the night before its first session (which was 7:40 am.) It was a pleasant surprise compared to previous years. The Drifters rubber isn’t that compatible for the IMSA drivers.”

There are nineteen IMSA cars, and 11 have in-car cameras. The race is Saturday at 2pm.

Nick Rossi's No.27 Honda

WHISTLIN’ DIXIE & HAVING FUN

Scott Dixon

NTT IndyCar Series driver, Scott Dixon/No.9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda topped the chart in the second practice Friday afternoon at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, with a time of 1:07.7940. The weather was sunny and warm, nearly 70 degrees F. “I think it was only an average run. I think I missed the timing line when I went to get the fast lap out of it. We ran long, and the grip felt high, but I made a pretty big mistake in the first two laps.”

Dixon was one of four drivers who broke into the 1:07 area in the final five minutes of the 45-minute session. They were: Ryan Hunter-Reay/No.28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda, Rookie Felix Rosenqvist/No.10 NTT Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, and Joseph Newgarden/No.2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet were the other drivers. Of those four, all but Felix, the top Rookie in the session, were at the top once during the session.

Rounding out the top ten were: Rookie Patricio O’Ward/No 31 GESS Carlin Chevrolet; Alexander Rossi/No.27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Andretti Autosport Honda; Graham Rahal/No.15 Total Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda; Simon Pagenaud/No.DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet; James Hinchcliffe/No.5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda; and Marco Andretti/No.98 U.S. Concrete/Curb Andretti Herta with Marco & Curb-Agajanian Honda. Say that fast five times.

Patricio O'Ward

O’Ward practically ran into the post-session media conference. RHR was asked if he was smirking at it. He said “He’s enjoying himself. You got to love it. He’s got that talent. He’s got the fire to do it. That’s what it’s about. It’s cool to see, for sure. Yeah, the more you go to press conferences, the slower the entrance becomes, I’m not sure how that goes.” O’Ward was then asked if he was actually having fun out there. “You have to be having fun doing this. I mean, I feel like if you’re not having fun, then why are you doing it, right? You have to enjoy it. You have to have fun where you’re at.

But I think it’s just a place that everybody likes to come to because of the energy around this place. I’ve never been here, but today is a Friday, man, and the paddock is full. The stands are, like, packed. I’ve never seen a Friday so full in my life.

It’s cool. It’s really cool. I wonder what it’s going to be like Sunday. So, I mean, I think Ryan knows better than I do, but I’m super excited.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay

Hunter-Reay responded” Yeah, it’s excellent. Don’t mistake what he’s saying. He’s not out there giggling while he’s on the track. He’s enjoying it because it ticks every box off for a driver that you want. You have the passion; you have the energy from the fans. The track is challenging you as a driver. It has that aspect to it that you really enjoy, you can’t wait to get back in the car.”

Mathew Leist/No.4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet was one of those drivers who found the 1.968-11-turn street course challenging. He drove into the Turn 9 runoffs area early on in the session, bringing out a Red Flag, for which he received a five-minute penalty – for causing the Red Flag. “We had a great Practice 1 here, but unfortunately in the second session, I think the higher temperatures and the setup that I had didn’t work well together. I had too much oversteer on turn-in, which doesn’t help you to go faster.” That was the only drama in the session, although Dixon admitted he probably hit the wall three-four times ‘just lightly’ during the session. He said “The course is very difficult. It’s quite a technical circuit, hard to piece it together. I think any street course, it’s very easy to get caught out. You’re constantly just rubbing the walls or getting close.”

Leist and two other Rookies – Colton Herta/No.88 Harding Steinbrenner Racing Honda and Santino Ferrucci/No.19 David Yurman Dale Coyne Racing were the only drivers who were faster in the morning session. Everyone else went faster in the warmer afternoon.

Sebastien Bourdais, who races No.18 Sealmaster Honda for Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan in IndyCars is also racing the No.66 factory Ford GT for Chip Gannassi Racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship this weekend. He is filling in for Joey Hand, who is ill. Dixon was asked in the post-session conference if he would have taken the opportunity if Ganassi called him. Dixon paused, and said “Chip did call.” Big stunned silence. “You said no?” Dixon – “I said, Call me back if you get stuck.”

In the Historic IMSA GTO qualifying session, Craig Bennett of Wixom MI got the pole in No.3 1990 Chevrolet Beretta. Second was Joel Miller of Oakbro IL in No. 62 1991 Mazda RX7 and Pieter Baljet in his 1990 Chevrolet Beretta. These cars are required to have run five races at five different tracks in a single year, and be outfitted with the original livery as it was period run. They have a 20-minute race Saturday at 5 pm.

IMSA GTO Podium Qualifiers

Left to Right: Keith Freiser, Craig Bennett and Joel Miller.

LIFE’S A BEACH!

Wyland Mural on Convention Center

The weather was a warming 63 degrees with bright sunshine and blue skies for the first NTT IndyCar Series practice on the streets of Long Beach, in the shadows of the massive Wyland dophin & whale mural on the side of the Long Beach Convention Center. This is the 45th Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. The schedule calls for IndyCars, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Pirelli GT4 America Series, Historic IMSA GTO, SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks, and Super Drift Challenge. A full plate.

Ryan Hunter-Reay/No.28 Honda

The morning 45-minute IndyCar practice session started four minutes late due to track cleanup from the previous BUBBA burger 90-minute session, and IndyCars ran green – IMSA had several session stoppages to retrieve cars. All 23 IndyCars were on track, and Ryan Hunter-Reay/No.28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda the fastest, at 1:07.9335/104.290 mph – which he turned on his last lap. He was the only driver to get down to a 1:07. He said “It’s a good place for us to start. It will continue to change.”

Several drivers took their turn at the top including Rookie Felix Rosenqvist/No.10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, and Scott Dixon/No.9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. The top seven cars were Honda. The top Chevrolet was Simon Pagenaud/No.22 DXC Technology Team Penske, and the top ten was rounded out by his two teammates, Joseph Newgarden/No.2 Hitachi Team Penske and Will Power/No.12 Verizon Team Penske.

This weekend there are five Rookies, with Rosenqvist the fastest, in seventh position. The others are former F1 driver, Marcus Ericsson/No.7 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda; Santino Ferrucci/No.19 David Yurman Dale Coyne Racing Honda; Patricio O’Ward/No.31 GESS Carlin Chevrolet; and St. Pete winner Colton Herta/No.88 Harding Steinbrenner Racing Honda.

Alexander RossiAlexander Rossi/No.27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Andretti Autosport Honda had a short day, with five laps before he pitted with a cutting tire problem. Rather than risk any more tires, he parked after five laps, while running third. He said later that they worked with Firestone Tires, and the issue is now resolved.

Sebastien Bourdais/No.18 SealMaster Dale Coyne Racing Honda is having a busy weekend. Thursday he and Will Power were inducted into the Long Beach Walk of Fame on Pine Avenue, and he started out at 7:40 am Friday practicing in No. for the 90-minute practice session. He is filling in for an ailing Joey Hand.

Sebastien Bourdais & Will Power

Bourdais and Power were on hand for the Walk Of Fame Ceremonies in bright sunshine. It’s not often that current drivers are honored by the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. According to GPALB President, Jim Michaelian, he promises that when – years away down the road – these drivers retire, he will dig up the bronze medallions and update them.

Sebastien Bourdais Medallion

Jim Michaelian

Will Power Medallion

The schedule continues with all groups having another session – IndyCars will have a second practice early afternoon and the IMSA series having a late afternoon qualifying session for Saturday afternoon’s sprint race.

Wyland Mural

J TAYLOR ON IMSA POLE & DUSTY DRIVING

Dust Cloud

Saturday at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca, it was sunshine from the moment the sun crested over the Turn Nine hill and bathed the paddock in light, bringing out the shades at 7:30am. Today there is more practice, an 8am warm-up for a 5:45pm race, qualifying and three races. Busy Day!

The day started out frisky and none of the morning sessions went uninterrupted. The drivers kicked up their heels … and a lot of dust and gravel. The corner workers got a work out with a rainbow of flags – Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, Yellow/Red, and White. The SFR E Crew were kept busy retrieving.

Amused Visitors at F&C Meeting

Porsche Driver Coach Craig Stanton & Race Director Randy Buck

SCRAMP (Sports Car Racing Association of Monterey Peninsula) CEO, Tim McCrane and IMSA Driver Advisor, Elliot Forbes-Robinson visited, amused and educated us at the 7am morning meeting of the SFR SCCA Flagging & Communications Crew, with IMSA Official, Jo Ann Jensen, Jim Swintal, Pirelli Porsche Race Director Randy Buck and Driver Coach, Craig Stanton. Lots to go over with all the IMSA rules, ways and means.

Jordan Taylor

No.10 Konica/Minolta Prototype Cadillac

In IMSA WeatherTech Qualifying, Jordan Taylor/No.10 Konica/Minolta Cadillac has the pole position for Sunday’s America’s Tire 250 Race for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. His lap was 1:16.181/105.758, a new track record – breaking the one set last June by his brother, Ricky Taylor – 1:16.853. There are thirteen Prototypes in the race. This was Jordan’s tenth (or 11th) IMSA pole, his second WeatherTech Championship pole, and his first pole at this Laguna Seca track since 2015. The team hasn’t won at Laguna Seca since 2013. Jordan and teammate Renger Van Der Zande are fourth in the Driver standings. Cadillac is leading the Prototype Manufacturer Standings. Thirty-four drivers qualified.

Jordan hasn’t had a victory this season, and hopes this pole will remedy that. He said “We’ve been putting ourselves in a good position to win all year. Getting pole certainly helps. I guess it’s time for us to get a win and get ahold of this championship.” He said “Action Express is our main competition.”

Jordan said “It was a good lap, we have had a good Cadillac all weekend. Renger was fast in practice all week. I had a good qualifying set-up that worked over one lap, but in practice we were working on a car that would handle for the whole race. It is nice to start from the pole. We will work from the front and see if we can control it. Laguna is always a low grip track, you are always sliding around. We focused on the handling toward the end of the stint. Renger is going to finish the race and developed a set-up that best suits him, so hopefully we have the car set-up right so he can battle for the win.”

Oliver Gavin

Oliver Gavin/No.4 GTLM Corvette

Oliver Gavin/No.4 Corvette Racing Corvette C7 R took the GTLM pole position ahead of seven competitors. It was his first-ever pole position at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. He’s had more than 50 career poles in various series.

For awhile during the fifteen-minute Qualifying session, he and teammate, Jan Magnussen/No.3 were 1-2, before Dirk Mueller/No.66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT inserted himself to be the filling in a Corvette sandwich.

Gavin is the ninth different driver to get the pole position in ten races. He and teammate, Tommy Milner are fourth in the GTLM Driver standings with 252 points.Their fellow Corvette, No.3 with Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen, is leading the standings with 269 points. Gavin and Milner won their 2015 IMSA class at Laguna Seca in 2012.

Gavin said “It was nice to get back to P1. It’s always great to get pole position here at Laguna Seca. Thanks to everyone at Corvette Racing and the crew. It takes a massive effort from everyone on the team to get back to P1. It’s nice to have this moment for the guys on our team. It gives everyone a nice little fill-up going into the race tomorrow.

“I’m thrilled, but this is only a small step in trying to achieve what we want to achieve tomorrow, and that’s a victory. Once the green flag drops tomorrow, this is all kind of forgotten. We have a very good race car; obviously it fell in nicely for qualifying. The Corvette C7.R has been strong all year. We’ve had an amazing team, great strategy and pit stops. We just need to execute tomorrow. The competition is at an all-time high in GTLM, and to be able to beat those guys is pretty satisfying. But the real work is ahead for tomorrow.

“We’ll be pushing like crazy at the start and we’ll work hard tonight to make sure we have everything covered and we’re fully prepared for the race.

On there being so many different GTLM pole winners, Gavin said “It speaks to the level of competition in the class. We’ve obviously got a good race car and an amazing team. It’s great for the guys. GTLM competition is at an all-time high and beating them (other competitors) feels good.”

Katherine Legge

Katherine Legge/No.86 GTD Acura

Katherine Legge/No.86 Meyer Shank Racing w/Curb-Agajanian Acura NSX got her first WeatherTech IMSA pole position with a time of 1:24.456. She said it was nerve-racking the last five minutes waiting to see if anyone topped her time. She credited her team for giving her such a good car. “First pole in a GT car for me, so I’m over the moon over that. The team gave me a great car, so thanks to them. Now it’s all about tomorrow. We really need a good result here and Petit [Le Mans] to be in with a shot at the championship.”

Legge is in a tights point battle with Bryan Sellars and Madison Snow in No.48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3. Sellars and Snow are 18 points ahead of Legge. Her co-driver, Alvaro Parente is further behind in the standings.

IMSA WeatherTech sportscars had an hour-long morning practice. Ranger Van Der Zande/No.10 Konica/Minolta Cadillac was the fastest overall and the fastest Prototype, narrowly shading his Friday fastest overall time, to clock a 1:16.605/105.172 mph. His co-driver is Jordan Taylor. The No.911 Porsche Team Porsche 911 RSR with Patrick Palet and Nick Tandy was quickest in the GTLM Class, at 1:22.839/97.258 mph. The No.58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911GT3 R driven by Patrick Long and Christina Nielsen was tops in GTD, at 1:24.619/95.212 mph.

The Lamborghini Race was marred by a jarring accident at the bottom of the Corkscrew on Lap Four. LB driver Sheena Monk/No.7 had no brakes and drove straight into the tire wall and flipped, landing right side up. The SFR Emergency Crew and IMSA Medical Team responded to the driver, and the SFR Course Marshals and Track equipment arrived to repair the damaged tire wall. “Monk was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation, and she was awake and alert.”

The Red Flag lasted most of the race, which featured driver changes. The race restarted, there were driver changes, and then another incident so the Pace Car took the Checkered Flag ahead of Pro Driver, Taylor Prolo/No.50 US Race Tronics. His co-driver is Edoardo Piscopo, who qualified the car. Trent Hindman/No. 1 Wayne Taylor Racing turned the fastest lap in the class at 1:25.651. Unfortunately he and co-driver Johnny Cecotto DNF.

ProAm driver, Loria Spinelli/No.71 P1 Motorsports, had led until the restart after the Red Flag and their driver change to JC Perez. They won the ProAm class, finishing fourth overall. Spinelli turned the fastest class lap of 1:25.515

Brian Thiennes/No.17 US Race Tronics won the Am Class, driving alone. He finished sixth overall. Damon Ockey/No.09 US Race Tronics turned the fastest class lap of 1:27.302.

Mark Proto and Parris Mullens won the LB Cup Class, finishing eighth overall. Brett Meredith/No.66 P1 Motorsports drove alone and turned the fastest class lap of 1:27.776.

Fourteen drivers finished the race, with 13 on the lead lap. Only 15 laps were completed in the 50-minute race, due to the half hour or so Red Flag time. Two drivers were penalized time for short pit stops – No.67 PPM in the Am class and No.71 P1 Motorsports in the ProAm class.

Next up the two-hour race for IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and 45-minute race for Pirelli Trophy West U.S.A.

THE SUN ALSO RISES

South Boundry Sunrise

Despite the ground hugging fog greeting early arrivers at WeatherTech Laguna Seca Friday morning for the Continental Monterey Grand Prix, the schedule started on time with Porsche Pirelli Trophy West U.S.A. The drive into the track on South Boundary Road was downright scary, but upon cresting the hill overlooking the paddock it was clearer…enough so that it was picturesque but clear enough to race.

It soon lifted and the sun shone, with blue skies and light breezes. It was low seventies, warmer than Thursday.

Four series are competing this weekend – IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, IMSA Lamborghini Trofeo, and Porsches. Friday calls for Practice for all, and Qualifying for Lambos and Porsches.

The IMSA race has been held at Laguna Seca 1974 when it held the Inaugural Monterey Triple Crown. Just now “experts from USA Today and fans” voted the Continental Monterey Grand Prix the fifth Best Motorsports Race in the World, behind such International events as the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500, Monaco Grand Prix and 24 Hours of Le Mans. This race on the iconic 2.238-mile elevated road course is traditionally the penultimate race of the IMSA season. Ten International races made the list, and the only other American venue besides Daytona was the USGP at COTA. Next year the fiftieth Anniversary of IMSA will be celebrated as the featured marque at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion.

Several of the sessions were punctuated with Red Flags to bring in the cars, while their fellow competitors were being retrieved out of gravel pits mostly in Turns Two and Eight/Corkscrew area. The lunch-time on-track activities were mostly canceled so that track maintenance could be performed in the Corkscrew area, removing three Dissuaders after one was taken out at Turn Eight.

The Konica Minolta Cadillac No.10 DPi was the fastest WeatherTech IMSA Prototype and overall sportscar in the morning practice, with drivers Roger Van Der Zande and Jordan Taylor, turning a 1:16.882/104.794 mph. Second and third Protytpes were Dane Cameron & Juan Pablo Montoya/No.6 Acura Team Penske Acura DPi; and Johannes van Overbeek & Pipo Derani/No.22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan DPi.

In the GTLM class, Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook were fastest in No.67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT at 1:23.644/96.322 mph. Second and third were Joey Hand & Dirk Mueller in the No.66 team Ford GT; and Earl Bamber & Laurens Vanthoor/No.912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911.

Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow were the top GTD team in No.48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 at 1:25.403/94.338 mph. Second and third in class were Ben Keating & Jeroen Bleekemolen/No.33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes; and John Potter & Andy Lally/No.44 Magnus Racing Audi.

No.10 Konica Cadillac P

No.67 GTLM Ford GT

No.48 GTD Lamborghini

Left to Right: No.10 Konica Minolta Prototype Cadillac; No.67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing GTLM Ford GT; and No.38 GTD Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini.

In the afternoon Dane Cameron/No.6 Team Penske Acura pipped his teammate,Helio Castroneves/No.7 Team Penske Acura at the very last minute – literally, with a time of 1:16.885 – just barely not quite as fast as the Konica Cadillac from the morning session. Castroneves was second in the afternoon, with No.5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac in third with Filipe Albuquerque and Joao Barbosa.

In the GTLM class, the No.66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT was tops with Joey Hand & Dirk Mueller at 1:23.427/96.670 mph. Second and third in class were teammates Briscoe and Westbrook in No.67; and Oliver Gavin & Tommy Milner/No.4 Corvette Racing Corvette.

Park Place Porsche was the fastest GTD team with drivers Patrick Lindsey and Joerg Bergmeister in No.73 Porsche at 1:25.148/94.620mph.

Dane Cameron/No.6 Prototype Acura

No.66 GTLM Ford GT

No.73 GTD Porsche

Left to Right: Dane Cameron/No.6 Prototype Acura; No.66 GTLM Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT; and No.73 GTD Park Place Porsche.

Watching this group go through the Turn One radar trap near the end of the first hour-long session, I saw 149 mph pop up on the cross-over bridge sign.

In the Continental Challenge Group, practicing for Saturday’s WeatherTech Raceway Laguna 120 race, Gary Ferrera and Kris Wilson were fastest overall in the morning session and in the Grand Sport Class at 1:33.123/86.517 mph in No.99 Automatic Racing Aston Martin. Second and third in GS were Dillon Machavern & Spencer Pumpelly/No.28 RS1 Porsche Cayman; and Alan Brynjolfsson & Trent Hindman/No.7 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang.

Quickest in the Touring Car Class were Roy Block and Pierre Kleinubing/No.75 Compass Racing AudiRS3 at 1:35.501/84.363 mph.Second and third in TCR were Russell Ward & Damien Faulkner/No.33 Winward Racing/HTP Mercedes AMG and Robin Liddell & Andrew Davis/No.71 Rebel Rock Racing Camaro.

Mike LaMarra and Matt Pombo were the fastest of the Street Tuner class cars,in No.73 MINI USA Mini JCW, at 1:39.853/80.686 mph. Second and third were Nick Galante and Devin Jones in No.81 Veristor/Logistics BMW; and Colin Mullan & Mark Pombo in No.52 Mini USA JCW.

The Porsche group was the largest field, with 38 entries. They have six categories within the series: Diamond, Diamond Masters, Platinum, Gold, Bronze and Silver. In the first practice, Michael Zukeack/No.2 GT3 Cup was fastest overall and in Diamond Master at 1:31.013. Sean McAlister/No.00 GT3 Cup was the fastest Platinum at 1:31.405; Jonah Yokubatis/No.43 GT3 Cup in Diamond at 1:31.538; Will Lin/No.5 GT3 Cup-Gold at 1:34.347; Steve Goldman/No.9 Cayman-Bronze at 1:35.564; and Chris Bellomo/No.67 Cayman at 1:36.897.

In the second practice, a somewhat different cast topped their respective classes, as the times got faster. Loren Beggs/No.08 GT3 Cup was the quickest Porsche and in Diamond at 1:19.934. Preston Calvert/No.7 GT 3 Cup-Diamond Master at 1:19.152; Mcalister in Platinum at 1:29.841; Lin in Gold at 1:32.845; Laura Ely/No.09 Cayman-Bronze at 1:34.887; and Bellomo in Silver at 1:35.853.

In the Super Trofeo series morning practice, Trent Hindeman and Jonathan Cecotto/No.1 Wayne Taylor Racing were the fastest in the Pro Class at 1:24.211/95.673 mph. JC Perez and Loris Spinelli/No.71 P1 Motorsports were the fastest ProAm Team at 1:24.380/95.482 mph. Brian Thienes/No.17 US Race Tronics was the fastest Am driver at 1:26.240/93.422 mph. Brett Meredith/No.66 P1 Motorsports was the fastest in the LB Cup Class at 1:28.990/90.535mph.

In the afternoon, the speeds were a tad slower. P1 Motorsports drivers Perez and Spinelli were fastest overall and in ProAm at 1:25.264/94.494 mph. The fastest Pro drivers were Brandon Gdovic and Shinya Sean Michimi/No.46 PPM at 1:25.845/93.852 mph. Damon Ockey/No.09 US Race Tronics led the Am class at 1:26.429/03.218 mph. Sheena Monk/No.7 Wayne Taylor Racing was the fastest in LB Cup at 1:29.195/90.327 mph.

Thursday was the Promotors Test Day, which included the Porsches, Lamborghini’s and Continentals. At day’s end, the IMSA sports cars fueled in pit lane, with the Emergency Crew and Pit Marshals from San Francisco Region Sports Car Club of America standing by. While this was ongoing, those team members not involved with fueling went for their Track Orientation Walk.

No.6  IMSA Prototype fueling

SFR E Crew at Pit Lane fueling

No,63 IMSA GTD fueling

Saturday’s schedule calls for Practice and qualifying for IMSA and Continental Series, as well as three races – Lamborghinis, Continentals and Porsches. The day starts at 8am and goes to 6:30pm, with a 50-minute lunch. The excitement never ends!

EVEN FASTER SATURDAY

Alexander Rossi/No.27 Honda. Photo by Nico Matamoros

Alexander Rossi/No.27 Honda. Photo by Nico Matamoros

Another beautiful day in Southern California for the 44th running of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The Verizon IndyCar Series had its morning practice, in preparation for the mid-afternoon qualifying session.

Alexander Rossi/No.27 NAPA Auto Parts Andretti Autosport Honda was the fastest IndyCar driver, at 1:06.6105/106.632 mph – faster than the fastest time of 1:08.4112/103.562 mph set Friday morning by Scott Dixon/No.9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. He set it on Lap 12 of the 15 he ran.

Every driver went faster Saturday morning.

Second through fifth were Joseph Newgarden/No.1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet – who led twice and much of the session, Will Power/No.12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, Ryan Hunter-Reay/No.28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda-who led once, and Simon Pagenaud/No.22 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet.

Joseph Newgarden/No. 20 Chevrolet

Will Power/No.12 Chevrolet

Simon Pagenaud/No.22 Chevrolet

Left to right – Team Penske drivers, Joseph Newgarden, Will Power and Simon Pagenaud. Photos by Nico Matamoros.

Also leading early on was Graham Rahal/No.15 Total Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda.

Yesterday morning’s fastest driver, Dixon, and Max Chilton/No.59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet turned the most laps – 20.

Jordan Kind/No.20 Chevrolet. Photo by Nico Matamoros

Jordan Kind/No.20 Chevrolet. Photo by Nico Matamoros

Despite his bringing out the Red and Checkered Flag, Jordan King/No.20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet was the top Rookie. He missed the apex and drove straight into the tire wall. It was the second Red Flag. Earlier, there was another Red Flag to retrieve Zachary Claman De Mello/No.19 The Paysafe Car Dale Coyne Racing Honda. That took 10.19 out of the 45-minute session.He turned the fewest laps – 11.

James Hinchcliffe/No.5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda was late going out. He finished twenty-first. All 24 drivers were on course.

Other fumbles including Veach driving into a runoff area and in need of a restart.

The minimum car weight for an IndyCar is 1620 pounds. The average weight for an IndyCar driver has been determined (by IndyCar) to be 185 pounds. So if a driver, such as Zach Veach or Takuma Sato weighs less, he must make up that difference in ballast, and conversly, if a driver (and there is at least one) weighs more, he can reduce weight in the car. Confidentiality precludes IndyCar indicating which driver is the heaviest.

Friday afternoon the IndyCar paddock was filled with queues of fans lined up for autographs from their favorite drivers. When I came in to watch, I was asked if I was allergic to bees. Evidently a hive had occupied a now cordoned-off corner and was being relocated. Only in California.

Juan Pablo Montoya and Joey Hand

Juan Pablo Montoya and Joey Hand.

In the BUBBA burgers Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach, only two IMSA classes are competing: Prototypes and GTLM.

Juan Montoya/No.6 Acura Team Penske Prototype is on pole for Saturday afternoon’s 100-minute race. He broke last year’s record set by Ricky Taylor, with a time of 1:12.922. JPM’s co-driver is Dane Cameron. This is the first pole for Honda in its third race since entering the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship this season.

Joey Hand/No.66 Ford GT Chip Ganassi Racing has the GTLM pole, and set a new track record of 1:16.869. He admitted he lost his second mirror on the wall. His co-driver is Dirk Mueller.

The top four Prototype drivers broke the existing track record. Montoya said “I just really love this car. This car reminds of a Formula One car, so balanced, so nice to drive.”

Montoya and fellow Penske IMSA driver, Helio Castroneves, were inducted Thursday into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame and had their name plaques installed, commemorating their LBGP winning history. Montoya said that was such a great honor.”“It’s unbelievable. I came here two years ago to see Roger get inducted. It was huge, huge names here. You don’t realize when you race and you win races, you never do it to be here. To get recognized for everything that you’ve done, it’s amazing.” Montoya won his first of 15 IndyCar races at the 1998 LBGP, and ran five races in Long Beach.

Castroneves raced 13 times since 1998, with one victory, three poles and currently holds the IndyCar qualifying track record of 1.06.2254 seconds/ 106.980 mph, set last year.

During the IMSA sessions there had been a lot of track limit violations, going over the new blend lines. No one seemed to know why.

Jimmy Hague, Chad Raynal, & Bill Ockerland.

Jimmy Hague, Chad Raynal, & Bill Ockerland.

Jimmy Hague/No.16 won the 11-lap HMSA Historic Trans Am Series Challenge in his 1970 Ford Boss 302 Mustang, after starting third. The Margin of Victory was a close 0.628 seconds, ahead of runner-up Bill Ockerland/No.25 1968 Ford Boss Mustang, who started fourth. Ockerland turned the fastest race lap – 1:40.396/70.569 mph. Early on, Hague had set the race’s fastest lap of 1:42.148.

Finishing third was Pole Sitter Chad Raynal/No.64 1969 Chevrolet Camaro.

Tomy Drisi/No.1 1970 Chevrolet Camaro finished third on the track, but was Disqualified.

No.16 1970 Ford Boss 302 Mustang

No.25 1968 Ford Boss Mustang

No.64 1969 Chevrolet Camaro

Twenty-seven started the race, and several failed to finish all the laps. John Hildebrand/No.49 1964 Pontiac GTO had a failed transponder, so didn’t show on the results. He had to pit early for overheating.

Autograph queues

DIXON & NASR FASTEST FRIDAY MORNING

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Sunny blue skies, nary a breeze, and lots of noisy race cars filling the streets down by the harbor. What more could one ask! The Verizon IndyCar Series is the headliner, with five other series adding to the very full bill of fare for the 44th running of the country’s oldest street race. Last year’s attendance was 183,000, and GPALB President, Jim Michaelian, said Thursday that ticket sales are strong and everything is on track for as good or better attendance this year.

Filling the dance card, besides IndyCars this weekend, are the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Pirelli World Challenge, Historic Trans-Am, Stadium Super Trucks, and Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge. There also will be two-seater IndyCar rides, two concerts, a Go-Kart track, and lots of other fun activities including the Lifestyle Expo. Something for everyone … and warm weather.
Scott Dixon's No.9 Honda

Scott Dixon/No.9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, who led twice, was the fastest of the 24 IndyCar drivers on track. His best time was 103.562 MPH/ 1:08.4112. He turned it on Lap Nine of the 14 he ran.

Second through fifth were Ryan Hunter-Reay/No.28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda, Alexander Rossi/No.27 NAPA Auto Parts Andretti Autosport Honda, Simon Pagenaud/No.22 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet,and James Hinchfliffe/No.5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda. All but Hinch led once during the session. Also leading early one was Max Chilton/No.59 Gallagher Chevrolet.

Zach Veach's No.26 Honda

Zach Veach/No.26 Group One Thousand One Andretti Autosport Honda was the fastest Rookie, in thirteenth place. There are seven Rookies this weekend, nearly a third of the field.

There was a Red Flag lasting 5.07 minutes of the 45-minute session, to retrieve Gabby Chaves/No.88 Harding Chevrolet who stalled in the Queen’s Hairpin. He got back out and was twenty-first for the session. Kyle Kaiser/No.32 Juncos Racing Chevrolet went off course, stalled and had to be push started. He was last for the session.Charlie Kimball/No.23 Tresibe Chevrolet drove off and stalled, near the end. There wasn’t time to push him. He finished twenty-second.

There will be another 45-minute IndyCar practice Friday afternoon, followed by an Autograph Session in the paddock.

The Indianapolis 500 Roster is filling up. Thursday Dreyer & Reinbold announced JR Hildebrand will drive No.66 Chevrolet, a number special to JR. Sponsorship will be from Salesforce. JR will be teammates with Sage Karam, making this D&R’s first time for a two-car team at the Indy 500. Both cars are new and the team has requested shakedown time in the car. So far the answer has been no, but they’re still hoping.

The Weathertech IMSA Series was first on track Friday morning, and Felipe Nasir/No.31 Cadillac ended up fastest at 1:13.582. Teammate Felipe Albuquerque in No.5 was second, followed by Helio Castroneves/No.7 Acura. For much of the session Ricky Taylor was fastest in No.7 Acura.

Ryan Briscoe was the fastest GTLM car in No.67 Ford GT Chip Ganassi Racing at 1:17.898, followed by Dirk Mueller in the sister car, No.66. Earl Bamber was third in No.912 Porsche GT Team. The next session for IMSA is qualifying late afternoon.