The temperature kept rising Friday at the 40th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, beyond the forecast, making great weather for street racing. For the Verizon IndyCar Series second practice mid-afternoon, the ambient temperature was 72 degrees F/track temperature 118 F. The winners were the fans, who turned out in droves for racing, as well as to queue up in long lines for driver autographs
SIMON PAGENAUD/No.77 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda and eleven other Verizon IndyCar Series drivers went faster in the afternoon practice session than the morning fastest lap of JAMES HINCHCLIFFE/No.27 Andretti Autosport Honda. Pagenaud turned a 1:09.1488. All of the 23 IndyCar drivers were faster in the afternoon session, except 2001 LBGP winner, HELIO CASTRONEVES/No.3 Team Penske Chevrolet, who was nineteenth in the second session, and seventeenth overall for the day.
Second through fifth were three-time LBGP winner, SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS/No.11 KVSH Racing; and two-time LBGP winner, WILL POWER/No.12 Team Penske Chevrolet.
Pagenaud said “We need to win a few this year to win the championship. LBGP is different from St Pete. I think the team’s done a great job over the winter at helping the car on the curbs and on the bumps. I feel pretty confident this weekend. It’s quite exciting. The sun was shining, and for qualifying, the red tires will give us more grip. Obviously, with different series running there will be different rubber on the track. You have to adapt. As the track rubbers up, the softness of the car needs to go up or needs to go down, and that’s what we’ll have to adjust for the red Firestone tires that are going to give us more grip.”
Bourdais said “Long Beach is a pretty challenging place. Commitment is always rewarded there. but one only can commit to so much. We’re happy, but still have work to do. The cars have come such a long way. It was a clean session. The morning conditions were tricky – it was greasy.”
Rookie Hawksworth, who drove it last year in Indy Lights, said “I like the circuit. I’m enjoying it – it’s a good location and good weekend. The IndyCar driving is better; going over the curbs is easy, pretty similar. The team is happy. We came into the season a bit late, but we’ve been working hard.” Hawksworth said “The team helped me adapt as a rookie quickly.
Among those were fastest during the 45-minute green flag session: 2011 LBGP winner, MIKE CONWAY/No.20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet; Rookies CARLOS MUNOZ/No.34 Andretti-HVM Honda and MIKHAIL ALESHIN/No.18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda; RYAN BRISCOE/No.8 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet; JAMES HINCHCLIFFE/No.27 Andretti Autosport Honda; 2010 LBGP winner, RYAN HUNTER-REAY/No.28 Andretti Autosport Honda; JUSTIN WILSON/No.19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda; and Pagenaud.
The time sheets shuffled a lot, all up and down.
The damage inflicted to the No.67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Honda by JOSEF NEWGARDEN into the Turn 11 tire wall was repaired during the lunch break. The team said the damage was minimal to the front left suspension. He ran sixth in the session. He said “Today in Long Beach was an interesting day for us.”
Hinchcliffe stopped on course in the waning moments of the session, but no worries. It was covered with local flags and the session remained green and clean.
Next up for IndyCar is Saturday morning’s 45-minute practice session, leading up to Saturday afternoon’s knock-out qualifying.