LONG BEACH, Calif – The Verizon IndyCar Series took to the 1.968-mile Long Beach street circuit on Friday for two practice sessions, as it was the second time in three races that the series has been on a temporary track. In the opening session, Juan Pablo Montoya led the way in his No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet as he turned a lap of 1:08.1290-seconds on Friday morning. Montoya, looks like he’s going to be a factor to win Sunday’s 42nd annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach as he was strong there in his previous starts as well .
Montoya, won the season opener at St. Pete too, as the Colombian is showing he’s got a very good car on street circuits so far in 2016.
Montoya’s Team Penske teammate Will Power was second quickest in his No. 12 Verizon Chevy as he turned a lap of 1:08.3714-seconds. Both Penske drivers were originally slated as the ones to beat this weekend and after the first session, they look like they’re easily going to be able to back that up.
Jack Hawksworth was third quickest in his No. 41 ABC Supply Co. Honda (1:08.4839-seconds) while Josef Newgarden (1:08.6050-seconds) and Hawksworth’s A.J. Foyt Racing teammate of Takuma Sato (1:08.7097-seconds) was fifth quickest in the opening 45-minute long session.
The session was stopped for two incidents as the first came when rookie Alexander Rossi locked up his brakes and got into the tire barriers. He would be okay but his car was not as they had to tow it back to the paddock for repairs.
Then, with just about a minute to go, Charlie Kimball’s brakes caught fire in Turn 1 as he had to pull off the track into the run off area. That would end the session prematurely.
The second 45-minute session though was clean as we got a full green flag run in without any interruptions. Power who was second quickest in the opening session led the way in session No. 2 with a lap of 1:07.5992-seconds.
Jmes Hinchcliffe who was strong in the opening session as well as second quickest in his No. 5 Arrow Honda with a lap of 1:07.8223-seconds.
Graham Rahal was third quickest to give two Honda’s in the top three with a speed of 1:07.8853-seconds while the other three Penske cars of Simon Pagenaud (1:07.9015-seconds), Montoya (1:07.9443-seconds) and Helio Castroneves (1:08.0431-seconds) were fourth through sixth respectively.
The series has one more practice session tomorrow morning before qualifying for Sunday’s 42nd annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach later on in the afternoon.