Long Beach IndyCar: Herta tops first practice, Palou shines

Colton Herta put Andretti Autosport-Honda on top in opening practice for the returning Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, while champion-elect Alex Palou’s first encounter with the course resulted in an impressive third.

Long Beach IndyCar: Herta tops first practice, Palou shines

While the track was still green, Romain Grosjean and Josef Newgarden had incidents at Turn 9 within two minutes of each other – the Dale Coyne Racing with RWR driver slid slightly long but reversed and continued, while the Penske driver locked up when his front wheels got airborne over a bump. His spin resulted in him merely kissing the tire wall, but when he tried to get going again, the car stalled. His restart required a red flag.

Colton Herta then became the first driver under the 70sec barrier with a 69.8160sec, before two-time Long Beach-winning teammate Alexander Rossi clipped 0.022sec off that time to go top.

Then the reds flew again, as Oliver Askew struck a wall with the right-rear of his Rahal Letterman Lanigan-Honda, bending a wishbone and flattening a tire at Turn 1. This came not long after the 2019 Indy Lights champion, who has never raced at Long Beach before, had already grazed his left-side front and rear tires. Out came the second red.

Herta then cut more than half a second from his best to turn the first 102mph lap of the weekend, while teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay made it an Andretti Autosport 1-2-3, and then James Hinchcliffe made it an AA 1-2-3-4, despite a lock-up at Turn 9.

Dalton Kellett made the same error but skidded straight on, necessitating a third red flag to retrieve the AJ Foyt Racing car from the runoff, just as Chip Ganassi Racing’s outgoing six-time champion Scott Dixon slid on at Turn 1 and gently kissed the tire barriers.

Then Ganassi’s likely incoming champion Palou upset the Andretti symmetry with a 69.4554, while Simon Pagenaud – earlier to be found down an escape road – jumped ahead of him to clinch second.

At the session’s close, as the track picked up pace, Felix Rosenqvist delivered fourth-best time, while his title contending teammate at Arrow McLaren SP, Pato O’Ward was a very disconsolate 16th.

Hunter-Reay retained fifth ahead of Meyer Shank Racing-Honda’s Helio Castroneves who has started this race from pole four times and holds the lap record here (2017).

Rookie Scott McLaughlin was second fastest of the Team Penske-Chevys with seventh, while Romain Grosjean – another Long Beach newbie – finished 10th.

Jimmie Johnson clocked 27th, 2sec off the pace, after a couple of confidence-sapping spins.

P

Name

FTime

Diff

FL

Laps

FSpeed

Engine

Tire

Team

1

Colton Herta

1:09.2680

1:09.2680

11

17

102.281

Honda

P

Andretti Autosport

2

Simon Pagenaud

1:09.4334

0.1654

17

17

102.037

Chevy

P

Team Penske

3

Alex Palou

1:09.4554

0.1874

21

22

102.005

Honda

P

Chip Ganassi Racing

4

Felix Rosenqvist

1:09.4870

0.2190

17

17

101.959

Chevy

P

Arrow McLaren SP

5

Ryan Hunter-Reay

1:09.5154

0.2474

11

15

101.917

Honda

P

Andretti Autosport

6

Helio Castroneves

1:09.5703

0.3023

21

21

101.837

Honda

P

Meyer Shank Racing

7

Scott McLaughlin

1:09.6212

0.3532

21

21

101.762

Chevy

P

Team Penske

8

James Hinchcliffe

1:09.6276

0.3596

14

14

101.753

Honda

P

Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport

9

Alexander Rossi

1:09.7940

0.5260

5

15

101.510

Honda

P

Andretti Autosport

10

Josef Newgarden

1:09.8557

0.5877

14

14

101.420

Chevy

P

Team Penske

11

Romain Grosjean

1:09.8807

0.6127

13

18

101.384

Honda

P

Dale Coyne Racing w/RWR

12

Will Power

1:09.9916

0.7236

10

16

101.224

Chevy

P

Team Penske

13

Scott Dixon

1:10.0535

0.7855

8

18

101.134

Honda

P

Chip Ganassi Racing

14

Ed Jones

1:10.1145

0.8465

12

15

101.046

Honda

P

Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan

15

Jack Harvey

1:10.1758

0.9078

11

15

100.958

Honda

P

Meyer Shank Racing

16

Pato O'Ward

1:10.2451

0.9771

16

17

100.858

Chevy

P

Arrow McLaren SP

17

Marcus Ericsson

1:10.3153

1.0473

4

17

100.758

Honda

P

Chip Ganassi Racing

18

Sebastien Bourdais

1:10.3788

1.1108

13

18

100.667

Chevy

P

AJ Foyt Enterprises

19

Graham Rahal

1:10.5113

1.2433

7

18

100.478

Honda

P

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

20

Rinus VeeKay

1:10.7374

1.4694

21

21

100.156

Chevy

P

Ed Carpenter Racing

21

Takuma Sato

1:10.7675

1.4995

10

15

100.114

Honda

P

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

22

Max Chilton

1:10.7844

1.5164

17

17

100.090

Chevy

P

Carlin

23

Conor Daly

1:10.9036

1.6356

10

17

99.922

Chevy

P

Ed Carpenter Racing

24

Charlie Kimball

1:11.0619

1.7939

16

16

99.699

Chevy

P

AJ Foyt Enterprises

25

Callum Ilott

1:11.1181

1.8501

22

22

99.620

Chevy

P

Juncos Hollinger Racing

26

Oliver Askew

1:11.2253

1.9573

6

8

99.470

Honda

P

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

27

Jimmie Johnson

1:11.4371

2.1691

20

20

99.175

Honda

P

Chip Ganassi Racing

28

Dalton Kellett

1:11.7969

2.5289

16

18

98.678

Chevy

Po

AJ Foyt Enterprises

 

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