Warm and sunny bright is the order of the day for the first official day of the 35th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Blocks away from the track one could hear the Indy Racing League’s Firestone Indy Lights Series take to the track at 8 am PDT. All six race groups practice and/or qualify Friday.

The first half hour of the 90-minute Indy Racing League IndyCar session was limited to ten drivers, Rookies and those outside the top ten in points. ROBERT DOORNBOS/No.06 Newman Haas Lanigan Racing was fastest in that group.

DARIO FRANCHITTI/No.10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing was the top IndyCar driver Friday morning at 1:11.1915. He spent much of the session in that position. Franchitti, who is sporting long curly locks this season, has a bet with pal TONY KANAAN/No.7 Andretti Green Racing, who has a closely shaved head. Whomever wins first dictates the others hair style. Kanaan is game to take clippers to Franchitti’s hair, and the other side of the bet is that Kanaan will let his hair grow. This weekend marks the 100th race for Kanaan in indy cars.

Second through fifth were RYAN BRISCOE/No.6 Team Penske., MARIO MORAES/No.5 KV Racing Technology, WILL POWER/No.3 Team Penske, and GRAHAM RAHAL/No.02 Newman Haas Lanigan Racing.

Top Rookie was ROBERT DOORNBOS/No.06 Newman Haas Lanigan Racing in sixth place. After racing Formula One and Champ Car in 2007, it’s hard to think of Doornbos as being a rookie, but IRL considers former CCWS drivers as Rookies due to lack of oval track experience.

This will be the second race at Long Beach for Doornbos – he ran the 2007 Champ Car race, and likes street circuits.

Doornbos won the A1 GP Sprint race in Portugal last weekend, racing for Team Netherlands. However, he suffered an electrical problem on the first lap of the Feature race and retired on the spot. Something shorted out from the in-car camera wiring. Team Netherlands is one of the top four countries in the series, along with Ireland, Switzerland and Portugal, and Doornbos said the series is attracting strong drivers. “I agreed to three races for A1GP Team Netherlands but racing conflicts prevent me from any more this season. I enjoyed it and did well – one victory, two poles, three podiums and six starts on the front row. People love it when you win for your country.”

Doornbos said “It’s not that different driving an IndyCar and an A1GP car. I know how to drive open wheelers, with experience in several series including F1. However, the IndyCar is far more comfortable. The A1 car has a more cramped cockpit. The A1 car has mega downforce and lots of grip. The IndyCar has less grip than the Champ Cars. The car is all over the place and it’s hard work to drive.”

Firestone Light’s RICHARD PHILIPPE/No.36 Genoa Racing, JONATHAN SUMMERTON/No.9 RLR/Andersen Racing, SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA/No.27 AFS Racing, JAMES DAVISON/No.21 Vision Racing, and JR HILDEBRAND/No.26 AFS Racing were the top five in the early morning practice. There were some spins, minor mechanicals and two visits into the tire walls, but no one was hurt and cars not severely damaged. All 25 were on track, and the top three are Rookies.

GIL de FERRAN/No.66 de Ferran Motorsports Acura LMP1 topped the ALMS morning practice session. The top drivers in the other classes were: LMP2-ADRIAN FERNANDEZ/No.15 Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura; GT1-OLIVER GAVIN/No.4 Corvette Racing Chevy Corvette; and GT2 WOLF HENZLER/No.87 Farnbacher Loles

ALMS qualifies Friday afternoon for Saturday’s afternoon ‘sprint’ race.