Simon Pagenaud's car
Simon Pagenaud’s car

SIMON PAGENAUD/Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports Honda was the fastest IZOD IndyCar driver Saturday morning in the third and last practice session leading up to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. His P3 time of 1:08.0960/1-4.041 mph was the fastest of all three IndyCar practice sessions. All 27 drivers turned their fastest laps of the weekend Saturday morning. Maybe it was the temperature – 63F/17C ambient, and 96F/36C on the track.

There were two Red Flags during the 45-minute session. Both WILL POWER/Team Penske Chevrolet and SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA/Dragon Racing Honda drove off into the Turn One runoff and both were restarted by the Holmatro Safety Team, with Power being wing-less. That Red Flag took a quick three minutes.

Six minutes later, another Red Flag, this time for HELIO CASTRONEVES/Team Penske Racing, who stalled on course, and then continued on to pit. That was a four minute track stoppage. Once Green, the session continued uneventful.

Second through fifth were WILL POWER/Team Penske Chevrolet, MIKE CONWAY/Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda, RYAN HUNTER-REAY/Andretti Autosport Chevrolet, and GRAHAM RAHAL/Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda.

There has been discussion about TV ratings and numbers, and I have wondered just exactly how are these figures calculated. A CBS cameraman told me Friday that “Someone knows every time a TV is on.” He explained that as every TV broadcast goes through a cable, satellite or some provider, this means there is data collected. Like hits on a website. ” We know, for example, Formula One is bigger worldwide than soccer.”

Carlos Munoz
Carlos Munoz

Meanwhile, back at the track, CARLOS MUNOZ of Dialy-Ser/Andretti Autosport has the pole for Sunday’s Firestone Indy Lights Race. The young Colombian turned a record lap of 1:12.374/97.135 mph, breaking the existing record of 1:13.6957 set in 2011 by ESTEBAN GUERRI. This is the third straight pole position this season for Munoz, in as many weekends, and he has been fastest of the ten Lights drivers all weekend.

Munoz said “I pushed it like it was my last lap in the car. I didn’t do 100 percent, I did 200 percent. I was near the wall a lot of times.”

Jack Hawksworth
Jack Hawksworth

Second was Rookie JACK HAWKSWORTH, driving for Schmidt Peterson c/w Curb Agajanian. He had a busy weekend. Early on in his first Friday practice he crashed hard into the Turn Eight barrier. He took the blame for “being stupid and pathetic.” The primary car could not be repaired in time for Sunday’s race, so the crew beavered into the night setting up the backup car. Although the backup car was Guerrieri’s winning car from last year’s Long Beach, it was in oval track setup for an upcoming test session with KYLE O’GARA, the high school senior/brother-in-law of SARAH FISHER, who will be making his open wheel debut at the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May. Hawksworth’s Saturday practice went well, running fifth fastest for the session and overall for the weekend.

Half the Lights field are Rookies, including two Americans – third fastest ZACH VEACH of Ohio, racing forK12/Andretti Autosport; and SAGE KARAM of PA, driving for Schmidt Peterson c/w Curb Agajanian.