Will Power earned pole position at the season-opening race at St Petersburg, but the race didn’t go nearly as well. After a disappointing race on that street circuit, Power now has his sights set on another; Long Beach. The Team Penske driver was fastest in practice on Friday, with a best lap of 1:07.0800 around the historic course.
Power was followed by Marco Andretti, who continues to build his confidence following a tough 2016 season. He was quick in practice yet again, but knows he needs to show it during qualifying. “We really need to convert this pace into results, and I really think we can,” he stated after today’s practice.
Simon Pagenaud was third fastest on Friday, with Takuma Sato and Ryan Hunter-Reay giving Andretti Autosport three cars in the top five. The seven former Long Beach winners were all in the top eight at the end of the day.
Friday Combined Practice Results
Graham Rahal had a rough opener at St Pete, and things didn’t start off great for him at Long Beach today. In nine races here, he has never led a lap, and has just one Top 10 finish. Still, look for him to be heading to the front on Sunday.
JR Hildebrand made his return to Long Beach, a place where he has actually performed very well. He finished 5th in each of his last two races, driving for Panther Racing. Hildebrand was ninth fastest in today’s practice. Castroneves is looking for his third straight pole at Long Beach, and also his third consecutive podium finish. A win would also end his 44-race winless streak. There were a total of 728 laps turned on Friday, with no serious incidents taking place.
There will be one final 45-minute practice session tomorrow at 1:45 PM ET, followed by qualifying for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Qualifying begins at 6:30 PM, and will air on NBCSN one hour later.
Photos courtesy of IndyCar
Conor Daly: “We had a really big improvement in the second session which was nice. Sadly we had an overboost (penalty) and traffic on our fastest lap, so we lost a great deal of time which puts us down the order more than we should have been, but at least we have that in our back pocket, but it was a good improvement. This car still doesn’t suit my driving style that well we just have to make a few adjustments or fine tune it for how I like to drive it and hopefully it’ll be okay.”
James Hinchcliffe: “Solid first day for the Arrow Electronics crew. This afternoon wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for; the track conditions changed, I think more than we were expecting, which caught us off-guard a little bit. With these really short sessions, it’s tough to learn much out there. So we’ll regroup and hopefully tap back into the speed that we saw this morning and be in a good position for tomorrow.”
Mikhail Aleshin: “I think that today we had a really interesting day. I mean, the first time on the track was pretty legendary. It’s a street course, and what we’re testing is so specific. We were pretty competitive today. At the end of the day I was on the Firestone reds, and we had quite a few red flags, so we couldn’t reach our full potential; I think we’ll be able to show it tomorrow.”
Max Chilton: “I think we are all kind of scratching our heads a bit about the practice times today. We’re working hard on the balance of the Gallagher car, just like our three teammates. We will go back to look at the data tonight and have a game plan to move forward up the grid tomorrow for qualifying.”
Scott Dixon: “I was obviously happy with the car this morning, but like I always say, practice doesn’t pay anything for winning. In the second session we had a fast NTT Data car as well, but an untimely red flag caught us out on our fast lap which left us down the timing sheets.”
Tony Kanaan: “Today was definitely a busy day for the No. 10 NTT Data Honda. We made some pretty big changes that didn’t play out the way we wanted them to but the practice days are the days where you can take those bigger swings. We definitely have some work to do tonight to get the car ready for qualifying tomorrow but I’m confident the NTT Data guys will have us ready to go.”
Will Power: “Yeah, you only get a set of reds for this one session. It’s really important for qualifying. It’s such a different tire, a lot softer. The car feels comfortable. We’ll work on it. It kind of sucks if you’re quickest because you don’t get details, you know. Wish I was fifth or something, it would have been much better. You don’t want to show people what you got too soon.”
Carlos Munoz: “We started pretty good in Practice 1, but we had a few little issues then we made some changes for Practice 2 and it didn’t really work. So we have to re-think for tomorrow. Like always the Verizon IndyCar Series is really tight, the times are really close so tomorrow you have to have the perfect lap time.”
Graham Rahal: “Today was what we will refer to as a character builder. In the first session, I didn’t think that we were that bad. We just didn’t get a run on the second set of tires. We are definitely challenged for lateral grip, challenged to get the car to bite into the road surface. In the Verizon IndyCar Series right now, it’s so competitive. If you are three-tenths (of a second) off, that could be the difference between being first and 15th place. We have to be on top of our game each and every time we go out on track and on Friday I’m not sure that we accomplished that goal. We will work hard tonight and come back stronger tomorrow.”
Sebastien Bourdais: “I was really surprised and very happy about the way we unloaded this morning. The No. 18 Trench Shoring Honda was hard to drive but it was quick, and then it just felt like the track was starting to get away from us a little bit. We started losing track of balance and the way things evolved. We’ve slipped back a little this afternoon and we don’t seem to be as strong out there on the reds (Firestone alternate tires) so we are going to have to work on that a bit. Long Beach is a tough place because it evolves very rapidly and you can only get a few changes in, so we’re going to have to think long and hard about it tonight and see what we’re going to do.”
Ed Jones: “It’s good to be back in Long Beach. It’s a great track and event. We’ve made some progress from St. Pete and this morning went quite well. This afternoon with the temperatures changing so much, the track changed and I struggled a huge amount. (Sebastien Bourdais) was still all right, so we can look at that after the session and fix the issues.”
Spencer Pigot: “It was fun to be back out on track here at Long Beach. I really enjoy the circuit, but we had a difficult day. We have some areas we need to improve so we’ll be working hard tonight to make sure we get going in the right direction for tomorrow.”
JR Hildebrand: “I feel like we have made a lot of progress since the first race. We looked back at St. Pete and saw some things we needed to focus on to make our weekend a bit better. We have also had some tests since then, including a pretty good test at Sebring a couple of weeks ago. Coming here, I felt good about what we had planned and our ability to make the car better. At the end of the first practice today, we knew what we need to improve on. For me, this is still just about making progress over the course of the race weekends. We ended the second practice in the top 10 and our aim is certainly to qualify there tomorrow. We are slowly but surely making our way forward.”
Takuma Sato: “It was a good day. It’s always good to be back in Long Beach. This is a special event and it’s always fun. We had a busy Practice 1 but we got it sorted out, and in the second session, it felt much better. We tried various setups across the car and it was quite a productive day. Today was actually the first time that I tried the red (alternate) tires in practice because I missed the opportunity in St. Pete. It was a good feeling and I feel prepared for tomorrow.”
Marco Andretti: “The UFD car is on edge, but I think that’s where we need to be to be quick. I like the predictability of the car. I felt like I could drive it to the limit, which is important to be able to wring it out in qualifying. I’m pleased with the pace and the pace we had all through testing, so it’s good to keep the pace here and back it up. We really need to convert this pace into results, and I really think we can.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay: “We seemed to overstep it a little that session, just got a little bit too aggressive with the car. I was starting to protect the entry too much where I’m trying to turn in and the rears always threatening and on a street circuit you just can’t drive that way. It’s something that we need to pay attention to, make the right decisions and try to guess right for tomorrow. Make it so that I can really hustle the car. I almost felt like in that session it was starting to drive me, I just couldn’t attack it. We just need to make some changes and I have faith that if we make the right ones, we can get the No. 28 DHL car in the front row.”
Charlie Kimball: “Well, it’s not the result we wanted for today. I know the No. 83 team is going to work hard tonight to figure out what’s going on and be ready for tomorrow. We found a little bit of speed at the end there, but we weren’t on fresh tires so we’ll look at it. I’ve got a little bit to learn overnight and it’s nice to have fast teammates with Scott (Dixon) and Tony (Kanaan) being a little quicker. We’ll look at their data and learn from that. I’m a little frustrated because I want to come out and start Friday off right but as Dario (Franchitti) says, it’s all about recovery.”
Alexander Rossi: “It was a mostly positive day. On black (primary) tires, I think, we’re in the top-three cars. I missed the balance there a bit on the red (alternate) Firestones, but that’s the positive of using the red tires this year in practice – you can have an understanding of what they have to do before you go in to qualifying. If we just adjust that overnight, then the NAPA Auto Parts car will be looking good.”