Dixon and Rossi fastest in Long Beach Friday practice sessions

by Jordan Groves

Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi have topped the first two practice sessions ahead of this weekend’s Verizon IndyCar Series 2018 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Dixon took the top spot in the first session with the fastest lap of the day, with Rossi taking over the reigns in practice two; albeit with a slower time.

Practice One:

As the teams and drivers of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series took to the streets of Long Beach for the first of two Friday practice sessions, they were met with perfect racing conditions and clear blue skies.

Four-time series champion and former Grand Prix of Long Beach race winner, Scott Dixon, topped the first forty-five-minute session of the day in his #9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. The New-Zealander completed fourteen laps of the circuit during the session, with a best lap-time of 1:08.4112.

Dixon’s best lap was 1.8-seconds slower than Will Power‘s lap record that was set during last year’s race weekend. Of course, the best time is likely to drop later in the weekend, especially in qualifying tomorrow, but it may be difficult for anyone to best Power’s time from twelve months ago due to the new, lower-downforce specification of the cars this year which will lead to slower speeds through mid to high-speed corners.

A hundredth of a second separated Dixon from second placed Ryan Hunter-Reay, with another tenth separating Ryan from his fellow Andretti Autosport team-mate Alexander Rossi. Alexander in the #27 Honda was one of a number of drivers who were perhaps pushing a little too hard in opening practice, with the American exploring the run-off area after running wide in the final ten minutes of the session.

The two most recent winners of the Grand Prix of Long Beach finished first practice in fourth and fifth. 2016 race winner Simon Pagenaud took fourth ahead of 2017 winner James Hinchcliffe. Takuma Sato was just outside of the top five in sixth place, with the 2013 race winner lapping just over half a second slower than Dixon in the first position. Yet another former Long Beach winner followed next, with Australian Will Power putting his #12 Team Penske Chevrolet in seventh place.

Reigning champion and current point leader Josef Newgarden was eighth fastest, just ahead of Tony Kanaan in ninth, with Sebastien Bourdais completing the top ten in the #18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda. The top ten were all covered by seven-tenths of a second, with the top fifteen all within a second of Dixon out front.

Zach Veach was the highest placed rookie in the session, with the American Andretti Autosport driver finishing thirteenth fastest in the #26 Honda. He was just ahead of fellow rookies, Robert WickensJordan King and Jack Harvey; with the trio taking positions fourteen through sixteen.

Only one red flag period interrupted the forty-five-minute session. That was due to the #88 Harding Racing Chevrolet of Gabby Chaves stopping out on track at the final corner hairpin. The Columbian was twenty-first fastest out of twenty-four drivers.

Credit: Joe Skibinski / Courtesy of IndyCar

2018 Verizon IndyCar Series – Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – Practice One results:

19Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing1:08.4112
228Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti Autosport1:08.4285
327Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport1:08.6077
422Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske1:08.7790
55James HinchcliffeCANSchmidt Peterson Motorsport1:08.9133
630Takuma SatoJAPRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing1:08.9295
712Will PowerUSATeam Penske1:08.9481
81Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske1:08.9600
914Tony KanaanBRAA.J. Foyt Enterprises1:08.9675
1018Sebastien BourdaisFRADale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan1:09.1270
1115Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing1:09.2349
1221Spencer PigotUSAEd Carpenter Racing1:09.2572
1326Zach Veach (R)USAAndretti Autosport1:09.2766
146Robert Wickens (R)CANSchmidt Peterson Motorsports1:09.2807
1520Jordan King (R)GBREd Carpenter Racing1:09.3598
1660Jack Harvey (R)GBRMeyer Shank Racing1:09.6034
1710Ed JonesUAEChip Ganassi Racing1:09.6060
1859Max ChiltonGBRCarlin1:09.6271
1919Zachary Claman De Melo (R)CANDale Coyne Racing1:09.7486
2098Marco AndrettiUSAAndretti Autosport Herta1:09.7632
2188Gabby ChavesCOLHarding Racing1:09.8182
2223Charlie KimballUSACarlin1:10.0010
234Matheus Leist (R)BRAA.J. Foyt Enterprises1:10.1979
2432Kyle Kaiser (R)USAJuncos Racing1:10.7481

Practice Two:

The great track conditions at Long Beach stayed put for the second practice session on Friday. After finishing third in the session earlier in the day Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi improved in practice two to go to the top of the charts at the end of the session.

Rossi and his team-mate Ryan Hunter-Reay both made a run on the red alternate tyre toward the end of the session in order to practice for qualifying tomorrow. Rossi lapped a tenth of a second faster than Hunter-Reay to take P1, with a time of 1:08.5567. This was slower than Dixon’s time from the first session, however.

Behind the Andretti Autosport pair was Josef Newgarden, who put his #1 Team Penske Chevrolet in third place at the end of the session. Takuma Sato and Scott Dixon completed the top five, but Sato’s session ended prematurely when he smacked the right-rear corner of his #30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda against the concrete wall on the exit of turn one. The reigning Indianapolis 500 champion was thankfully unscathed in the incident.

Will Power finished just outside of the top five in practice two in sixth place. James Hinchcliffe took seventh, just ahead of Graham Rahal, who moved from outside of the top ten in the first session to eighth place in the second in his #15 Honda. Frenchmen Sebastien Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud completed the top ten.

The top twelve drivers were separated by a second in practice two. Zach Veach in the #26 car was once again the fastest rookie, taking thirteenth place. Just like in the first session, he was closely pursued by Robert Wickens who finish in fourteenth.

Carlin had an unspectacular but reasonable day of running. Neither of their drivers, Max Chilton or Charlie Kimball, came close to cracking the top ten in either session, but they were well amongst higher placed teams such has Ed Carpenter Racing, A.J. Foyt Enterprises and others. The British team will be hoping to continue to make gains as the weekend continues.

Credit: Joe Skibinski / Courtesy of IndyCar

2018 Verizon IndyCar Series – Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – Practice Two results:

127Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport1:08.5567
228Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti Autosport1:08.7083
31Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske1:08.9307
430Takuma SatoJAPRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing1:09.0544
59Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing1:09.1049
612Will PowerAUSTeam Penske1:09.1953
75James HinchcliffeCANSchmidt Peterson Motorsports1:09.2687
815Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing1:09.2728
918Sebastien BourdaisFRADale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan1:09.3552
1022Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske1:09.3687
1121Spencer PigotUSAEd Carpenter Racing1:09.4608
1214Tony KanaanBRAA.J. Foyt Enterprises1:09.5770
1326Zach Veach (R)USAAndretti Autosport1:09.6902
146Robert Wickens (R)CANSchmidt Peterson Motorsport1:09.7242
1598Marco AndrettiUSAAndretti Autosport1:09.8166
1660Jack Harvey (R)GBRMeyer Shank Racing1:09.8433
1759Max ChiltonGBRCarlin1:09.8444
1820Jordan King (R)GBREd Carpenter Racing1:09.9069
1910Ed JonesUAEChip Ganassi Racing1:10.0616
2023Charlie KimballUSACarlin1:10.1694
2132Kyle Kaiser (R)USAJuncos Racing1:10.3206
224Matheus Leist (R)BRAA.J. Foyt Enterprises1:10.5076
2319Zachary Claman De Melo (R)CANDale Coyne Racing1:10.5442
2488Gabby ChavesCOLHarding Racing1:10.8269

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