It was a warm and wonderful Saturday morning at the 35th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – Day Two. Skies were blue, crowds were plentiful and things were going well. Unofficially, the Friday attendance was said to be 50,000 – more than last year’s Friday?
DARIO FRANCHITTI/No.10 Target Chip Ganassi was fastest overall Saturday in the Indy Racing League IndyCar practice, despite a spin into the tires during the second half of the bifurcated hour-long session. His best time was 100.801 on Lap 4 of the nine he ran.
Overall, the top five were EJ VISO/No.13 HVM, WILL POWER in his new to him No.12 Team Penske, SCOTT DIXON/No.9 Target Chip Ganassi and JUSTIN WILSON/No.18 Dale Coyne Racing. Power ran 14 laps.
MIKE CONWAY/No.24 Dreyer & Reinbold was the top Rookie, in eighth position, behind HELIO CASTRONEVES, out in the No.3 Team Penske for the first time since last October.
Castroneves went out in the first and second halves of the practice session. For a driver who hadn’t been in an IndyCar since last October, the rust shook off quickly. It didn’t take him long to get up to speed, literally and figuratively. He ran second of the thirteen cars in the first session and ran 27 laps overall.
Team Penske Owner, ROGER PENSKE, was at the track, in the pits and paddock, and riding here and there on his scooter. A Saturday noon press conference is scheduled for the team, with Penske, Team Penske President, TIM CINDRIC, and Castroneves.
TONY KANAAN/No.11 Andretti Green Racing was fastest in the first half hour of practice, in a 14-car field.
HIDEKI MUTOH/No.27 Andretti Green Racing got loose and spun hard into a concrete barrier, causing severe right hand damage to the car – both wheels, front suspension, etc. He was not hurt and walked to the response vehicle. It was the only caution in the first session, and took nearly seven minutes while the clock ticked.
Qualifying is at 2:10 PDT.