Scott Dixon debriefing on the run
Scott Dixon debriefing on the run. Photo by Lynne Huntting
Sunday morning at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach was the first day in the past four which didn’t start with warm sunshine. The skies were leaded with fog and while the weather claimed to be in the low sixties, it seemed cooler.

The Firestone Indy Lights had their fifteen minute warm up called practice, with Polesitter ESTEBAN GUERRIERI/No.7 Sam Schmidt Motorsports on top, where he’s been all weekend. All 17 entries have been on course for all sessions.

Izod IndyCars had half an hour of uneventful morning practice, with WILL POWER/No.12 Verizon Team Penske on top, followed by JUSTIN WILSON/No.22 Dreyer & Reinbold; ALEX TAGLIANI/No.77 Sam Schmidt Motorsports; HELIO CASTRONEVES/No.3 Team Penske; SIMONA De SILVESTRO/No.78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy HVM Racing; MIKE CONWAY/No.28 Andretti Autosport; DARIO FRANCHITTI/No.10 and SCOTT DIXON/No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing; TONY KANAAN/No. KV Technology – Lotus; and JAMES HINCHCLIFFE/No.06 Newman/Haas Racing.

Now that IndyCar practice is over, the starting race tire designation information has been provided. Of the 27 drivers running the two-hour Sunday afternoon race, seven are starting with Primary (harder) Firestone tires, with the remaining twenty starting on the softer Alternative tires, marked with a large red stripe on the outside. This allows fans and others to know which tire the car is running. The stripe is bigger and easier to see than the stripes run on the Formula One Pirelli tires.

Rafael Matos debriefing
Rafael Matos debriefing. Photo by Lynne Huntting
The top eleven starters all opted for Alternative tires. The seven drivers starting on Primary tires are RYAN BRISCOE/No.6 Team Penske starting twelfth; MARCO ANDRETTI/No.26 Andretti Autosport-P14; RAFAEL MATOS/No.17 AFS Racing-P19; DANICA PATRICK/No.7 Andretti Autosport-P20; TAKUMA SATO/No.5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus-P22; PAUL TRACY/No.8 Dragon Racing-P25; and ANA BEATRIZ/No.24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing-P26.

Tracy is running all the “bigger events” on the 2011 Izod IndyCar schedule and now he’s filling in the blanks with other races. His goal is get a full time ride for next year, which will be his Farewell Tour.

Hinchliffe had a scare Friday when his car caught fire during the first IndyCar practice, so he pulled into the back door of the Pit Lane at Turn Ten with two foot flames and smoke from the rear. Hinch’s rear cowling was melted near the shaft and the gear box was locked. PAUL EINHORN, volunteer race marshal from San Francisco Region SCCA, was stationed at that point and held up a fire extinguisher bottle. Hinch pulled up and bailed out of the car. Einhorn went over the wall putting out most of the fire before the pit fire response people arrived.

JIM SWINTAL, the IndyCar dispatcher on the landline to the turns, said Paul did a very professional job. Saturday morning, IndyCar officials came unannounced to the morning Flag & Communications meeting to thank Paul in front of the entire corner workers crew and presented Einhorn with an official IndyCar hat.