All-American IZOD IndyCar Champion, RYAN HUNTER-REAY/Andretti Autosport Chevrolet was fastest in the second Friday practice at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, with a lap of 1:09.4224/1:02.054 mph, faster than RYAN BRISCOE’S 2012 Long Beach pole lap of 1:08.6089. Hunter-Reay’s afternoon time was fastest all day for the combined practice sessions, which allows RHR to select which Qualifying session he will run. He chose Q2.
MIKE CONWAY/Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing/Honda was again second in practice and overall, the only other driver who was in the 1:09.4 bracket.
All the cars who practiced fastest in the odd-number order will be in RHR’s session, with all the even-numbered practice order cars in Q1.
The top eight cars overall turned their fastest times in the afternoon session. Of the 27 drivers in the Long Beach field, eighteen turned their fastest times in the afternoon, which was 86F/30C-definitely hydration-sunblock weather.
The only Rookie in the field, TRISTAN VAUTIER/Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, was fourth fastest, behind WILL POWER/Team Penske Chevrolet. Fifth was HELIO CASTRONEVES/Team Penske Chevrolet.
Practice Two was a Red, White and Blue. Red for the three Red Flags, White for the hard walls, and Blue for some team’s attitude after the session.
There was more Red Flag than Green Flag time Friday afternoon during the second IZOD IndyCar practice – 27.50 minutes down, with 17.03 minutes running.
Five cars were involved in four single-car accidents. Three drivers crashed, two into the hard concrete barriers, and in one case, a second driver hit a crashed car. All drivers are alright.
Five minutes into the session, SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA/Dragon Racing Honda hit the wall in Turn Six. That took eleven minutes to cleanup.
Four minutes after the second Green Flag, JUSTIN WILSON/Dale Coyne Racing Honda hit tire wall in Turn Eight. SIMONA de SILVESTRO/KV Racing Technology Chevrolet’s left front clipped Wilson’s car after she came around the corner. She then stopped on course. Thirteen minutes for this situation.
Five minutes after the third Green Flag, SCOTT DIXON/Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda hit the wall in Turn Nine and bounced back onto the course, with both rear wheels making a little hop up in the air. This was a quick five-minute cleanup.
Three minutes after the fourth Green Flag, E.J. VISO/Andretti Autosport Chevrolet gently nudged the Turn Nine tire wall. That brought out the Red and Checkered Flag.
All the down time caused a severe crimp in the teams’ strategies, who often use the second practice session to work on race setups or setting their fast lap to make it high on the combined practice charts. Teams have different philosophies, with some choosing the morning session for fast lap and afternoon for race setups, and visa versa. RHR referenced this in his post-practice media conference, saying the afternoon session severely cut into his time to work on the different setups. It will mean concentrating more for the third and last practice session Saturday mid-morning.
In other news, three drivers with IndyCar ties have the pole position for their class in Saturday afternoon’s Tequila Patron ALMS race. Overall fastest driver, in the P1 class, was NEEL JANI, turning a 1:12.600/97.587 mph lap in Rebellion Racing’s HPD ARX-03a on Michelin tires. He raced for PKV Racing in 2007. The 2012 Long Beach IndyCar race winner, RYAN BRISCOE, has the pole position in the P2 Class. His lap was 1:16.014/93.204 mph, driving Level 5 Motorsports HPD ARX-03b with Michelin tires. Former indycar racer, BRUNO JUNQUEIRA of Brazil, has the PC pole for that race, driving the RSR Racing ORECA FLM09 on Continental tires. Junqueira ran Champ Car and IRL from 200-2008. Junqueira had two one-off runs at subsequent Indianapolis 500 races, in 2009 and 2011. In each case, he qualified but his ride was given to another driver. In 2009 Conquest Racing replaced Junqueira with it’s regular driver, ALEX TAGLIANI, who had not qualified due to technical problems. In 2011, team owner A.J. FOYT sold the unsponsored ride to Andretti Autosport for its regular driver, RYAN HUNTER-REAY, who had been bumped from the field in the last few moments of qualifying.
Earlier Friday MIKE HULL, Managing Director of Chip Ganassi Racing and RYAN BRISCOE of Australia held a media conference, to announce – again – that Briscoe will run the 2013 Indianapolis 500 race. Interesting anecdote told by Hull: the original plans with Briscoe fell through when sponsorship failed to materialize. Team owner, CHIP GANASSI, upon reflection, decided to run the car anyway. And then, after the fact, sponsorships fell into place.
Thirty-three cars in five classes make up the ALMS field. That two-hour race starts at 4:30pm local time/7:30pm EDT.
Editorial note: I started writing this column and headline long before the Boston situation resolved. I’d like to think the headline was a good sign.