IndyCar

Simon Pagenaud Tops Practice One at Grand Prix of Long Beach

3 Mins read
(Photo Credit: Chris Owens / Penske Entertainment / Courtesy of IndyCar)

Simon Pagenaud came out fastest in a hotter than expected first practice session at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, in a session where Andretti Autosport-affiliated cars found themselves towards the top of the timing sheets. Unexpectedly to some, it was the affiliate Meyer Shank Racing that beat out Andretti to the top spot, with Alexander Rossi second and championship leader Scott McLaughlin third.

There was a small delay getting underway, as extra cleanup was needed from the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Series that hit the track just before, but when the green flag flew Andretti-affiliated cars dominated the early portions of the session. All four Andretti cars (Rossi, Romain Grosjean, Colton Herta, Devlin DeFrancesco) as well as both MSR cars (Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves) dominated the top ten.

But as the session went on, Marcus Ericsson of Chip Ganassi Racing took the lead and the field began to diversify with more Ganassi and Team Penske cars filling out the top of the time sheets.

Bad luck continued to plague Arrow McLaren SP, as Pato O’Ward slapped the wall exiting turn five with about twenty-six minutes to go. With the tyre slightly knocked off the rim, O’Ward managed to make it back to the pits without causing a red flag. With only one lap to his name, many thought his day was over, but all the team needed to do was repair some rear tow links and got him back on track. He was able to salvage some time in the session and finished in fourteenth place ahead of his teammate Felix Rosenqvist.

With 16 minutes to go, the session went red for the first time as Jimmie Johnson ended up nose-first in the tyre barrier at the outside of turn five. Johnson ran over the curbs and the car bottomed out hard, sending him straight into the barrier and ending his day with a twenty-fourth place finish. Johnson held onto the wheel through the contact and was seen shaking his right hand in the cockpit, raising concern about an injury. Neither Johnson or the team have confirmed any injury.

Less than five minutes later A.J. Foyt EnterprisesDalton Kellett also found himself in the turn five barrier, locking up and spinning into the barrier rear-wing first. There wasn’t much damage on the car, and Kellett was able to continue on and the session was soon resumed.

With seven minutes to go, Pagenaud jumped back ahead of Ericsson, as did Rossi and McLaughlin, and those spots would not change. Josef Newgarden also slipped past the Swede, taking fourth to put two Penske cars in the top five. Ericsson, despite falling to fifth, showed fantastic pace and was the highest-placing Ganassi car.

Herta, the defending race winner, finished sixth fastest and stated post-race that he doesn’t believe much will be gained from this test session due to the change in temperature expected for race day. Seventh fastest was Alex Palou, followed by Will Power in eighth, putting all of Team Penske in the top ten.

The last two spots of the top ten were taken up by rookies, as Callum Ilott and Kyle Kirkwood both snuck into the top ten within the last five minutes of the session. Impressive showings from two of the top rookies in this year’s class. No other rookies finished in the top fifteen, the next fastest being David Malukas in sixteenth. Christian Lundgaard finished twenty-first, while DeFrancesco and a returning Tatiana Calderon finished twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth respectively.

Action resumes Saturday 9 April with second practice at 0845 PT / 1145 ET / 1545 GMT.

Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach – Practice 1 Results

RANKCAR NO.DRIVERNATTEAMBEST TIME
160Simon PagenaudFRAMeyer Shank Racing01:07.1991
227Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport01:07.6012
33Scott McLaughlinNZLTeam Penske01:07.6720
42Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske01:07.7282
58Marcus EricssonSWEChip Ganassi Racing01:07.8425
626Colton HertaUSAAndretti Autosport01:07.8783
710Alex PalouESPChip Ganassi Racing01:07.9113
812Will PowerAUSTeam Penske01:08.0000
977Callum Ilott (R)GBRJuncos Hollinger Racing01:08.0201
1014Kyle Kirkwood (R)USAA.J. Foyt Enterprises01:08.0221
119Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing01:08.0478
1206Helio CastronevesBRAMeyer Shank Racing01:08.1579
1315Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing01:08.1737
145Pato O’WardMEXArrow McLaren SP01:08.4147
157Felix RosenqvistSWEArrow McLaren SP01:08.4615
1618David Malukas (R)USADale Coyne Racing w/ HMD Motorsports01:08.4838
1745Jack HarveyGBRRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing01:08.5799
184Dalton KellettCANA.J. Foyt Enterprises01:08.7003
1920Conor DalyUSAEd Carpenter Racing01:08.7009
2021Rinus VeeKayNEDEd Carpenter Racing01:08.7706
2130Christian Lundgaard (R)DENRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing01:08.7736
2228Romain GrosjeanFRAAndretti Autosport01:08.8407
2351Takuma SatoJPNDale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing01:09.2460
2448Jimmie JohnsonUSAChip Ganassi Racing01:09.6203
2529Devlin DeFrancesco (R)CANAndretti Steinbrenner Autosport01:09.6432
2611Tatiana Calderon (R)COLA.J. Foyt Enterprises01:10.2096
(R) = Rookie
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Lifelong sports junkie, currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Hofstra University. Lead writer for Indycar at The Checkered Flag.
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