The sun was out, the breeze was brisk and all 21 Verizon IndyCars took to the track for Practice One of the 41st Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. At the end of the forty-five minute session, 2015 Champion, Scott Dixon was fastest in his NTT Data Honda with a time of 1:07.6357/104.749 mph. Helio Castroneves/No.3 Auto Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet was second at 1:07.7609, making him the top Chevrolet. Third was Sebastien Bourdais/No.18 Trench Sharing Dale Coyne Racing Honda, followed by James Hinchcliffe/No.5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda and Will Power/No.12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.
With the switching around this season, there are eight Chevrolets and thirteen Hondas. The four-car Ganassi Team switched from Chevrolet to Honda, while the two-car team of AJ Foyt Racing now run Chevrolets.
The session saw a constant shifting of the order, with several drivers on top, including Dixon’s teammate, Tony Kanaan/No.10; first 2017 race winner, Bourdais.
Hinchcliffe. Preceding the IndyCars on track were the IMSA WeatherTech cars, laying down nearly two hours of rubber on the 1.968-mile, 11 turn temporary street course.
Carlos Munoz/No.14 AJ Foyt Chevrolet spun and swapped out a wing, and ended up fourteenth. Kanaan grazed the wall and used up a Firestone tire, but still managed eighth overall. Another Ganassi teammate, Max Chilton/No.8 Gallagher limped into pit lane with mechanical issues, but got back out. He finished last in line. But all in all, the session was drama free with no cautions.
This weekend’s driver of the IndyCar two-seater is Zach Veach, who comes from the Indy Lights Series. It’s no secret that he’s actively been trying to get an IndyCar ride, especially for the Indianapolis 500. Friday he made his announcement, after his poker-faced conversation Thursday saying he didn’t know when he hopefully would be breaking the news – Veach will drive No.40 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet with primary sponsorship from The Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim. As for other races, Larry Foyt said “You never know about other races, but we’re focusing on Indy 500.
Foyt Racing has two other young drivers on its roster this year in Chevrolets, rather than the previous Hondas, with ABC Supply sponsorship – Conor Daly in No.4 and Carlos Munoz in No.14. Larry Foyt said “All the drivers are young, but there’s experience. AJ, as a team owner, has always liked to give young boys a chance. Having AJ to talk with has helped a great deal. And the team has lined up good people to work with the team and crew, and is bringing good engineers to the track. One piece of advice AJ has already imparted to Veach is that to win the race, first you have to be there at the end of the race. Don’t worry about the first part of the race.
Veach, whose first time in the IndyCar will be at Rookie Orientation, said running the Indy 500 will be really special. Finding funding in the past couple of weeks has happened. I worked with Carlos my first year in Indy Lights. Last year’s Indy 500 proved it’s possible for a Rookie to win it.
AJ Foyt said “The Aero Kits have made good topics of conversation. Chevrolet has worked hard and stepped up its game.”