Sunday’s weather started out far different from the previous hot days. There was a thick marine layer of fog to start out the morning, before it started burning off during the IZOD IndyCar warmup, for Sunday afternoon’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. This is the thirty-ninth consecutive year for this iconic street race, and it’s never really rained on race day. Last year it did before race day, and was quite cold.
For the IndyCar Warm-Up, the temperature was 60F/16C ambient, and 78F/26C on track.
There’s no bonus for being fastest in IndyCar Warm-Up. Sunday’s half-hour session was filled with lots of ins and outs, practicing of pit stops, setup changes, making adjustments, getting the driver comfortable, tweaking, and getting into race mode. When they’re not attending to the pit stops, many crews are glued to the TV monitor for Timing & Scoring as well as video coverage of the session.
For the record, TAKUMA SATO/AJ Foyt Enterprises Honda was fastest, at 1:08.5388/103.369 mph. All 27 drivers did double-digit laps, ranging from 10-18.
Josef NewgardenSecond through fifth were JOSEF NEWGARDEN/Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda, EJ VISO and RYAN HUNTER-REAY/Andretti Autosport Chevrolet, and GRAHAM RAHAL/Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda.
Location! Location! Location! It’s all about where you are in Pit Lane for the race, and where you and your teammates are in the paddock for the weekend – where your garage bay is, where are your transporters, and in some cases – hospitality.
For the Pit Lane spots, the position is determined by your qualifying position in the previous race. RHR was on pole for the last race at Barber Motorsports Park, so he’s first in line, by Pit Exit, for Long Beach. His team tells me this is considered the preferable spot as it makes for a clean exit after a pit stop – with no traffic ahead to dodge. Hunter-Reay has to maintain the proper pit lane speed until he hits the cone and blend line for entering traffic. There is a radar gun to monitor. At the other end of the pit lane, Pit Entrance, the drivers have to quickly slow to 50 mph, the designated speed limit for street and road races. For oval track races, the limit is 40 mph.
A different procedure guides where the teams park in the IndyCar paddock. IndyCar’s Ops people work with the teams. The teams are kept together by manufacturer, and all cars within a team are kept together. Basically it can work out to a Chevrolet row and a Honda row.
For causing a Red Flag in Qualifying, SCOTT DIXON/Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda lost his two fastest laps and will start last in the 27-car field. I was told by a race official that “He’s on his own” in terms of getting through the pack, with no Blue Flags. All the drivers know Dixon is back there.
In the Firestone Indy Lights race, it went from a 45-lap race to an timed race (one hour) after a couple of accidents, which led to two caution periods taking up close to twenty minutes/nine laps. The drivers got 34 green laps/40.57 minutes.
Pole sitter CARLOS MUNOZ/Dialy-Ser/Andretti Autosport is continuing his winning street, with his third straight victory. The Indy Lights Rookie led every lap, and now leads the points standings. The 21 year old will take his Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program next month. He’s driving the fifth car for Andretti Autosport.
Second and third were Rookies GABBY CHAVES and SAGE KAREM/Schmidt Peterson c/w Curb-Agajanian.
The other finishers were JORGE GONCALVEZ/Belardi Auto Racing, and RMATTHEW Di LEO/MDL Racing/RES Precast.
The retirements were all due to contact – half the field.