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 Enterprises‘ Dalton 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
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||NAT||TEAM||BEST TIME|
|1||60||Simon Pagenaud||FRA||Meyer Shank Racing||01:07.1991|
|2||27||Alexander Rossi||USA||Andretti Autosport||01:07.6012|
|3||3||Scott McLaughlin||NZL||Team Penske||01:07.6720|
|4||2||Josef Newgarden||USA||Team Penske||01:07.7282|
|5||8||Marcus Ericsson||SWE||Chip Ganassi Racing||01:07.8425|
|6||26||Colton Herta||USA||Andretti Autosport||01:07.8783|
|7||10||Alex Palou||ESP||Chip Ganassi Racing||01:07.9113|
|8||12||Will Power||AUS||Team Penske||01:08.0000|
|9||77||Callum Ilott (R)||GBR||Juncos Hollinger Racing||01:08.0201|
|10||14||Kyle Kirkwood (R)||USA||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||01:08.0221|
|11||9||Scott Dixon||NZL||Chip Ganassi Racing||01:08.0478|
|12||06||Helio Castroneves||BRA||Meyer Shank Racing||01:08.1579|
|13||15||Graham Rahal||USA||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||01:08.1737|
|14||5||Pato O’Ward||MEX||Arrow McLaren SP||01:08.4147|
|15||7||Felix Rosenqvist||SWE||Arrow McLaren SP||01:08.4615|
|16||18||David Malukas (R)||USA||Dale Coyne Racing w/ HMD Motorsports||01:08.4838|
|17||45||Jack Harvey||GBR||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||01:08.5799|
|18||4||Dalton Kellett||CAN||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||01:08.7003|
|19||20||Conor Daly||USA||Ed Carpenter Racing||01:08.7009|
|20||21||Rinus VeeKay||NED||Ed Carpenter Racing||01:08.7706|
|21||30||Christian Lundgaard (R)||DEN||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||01:08.7736|
|22||28||Romain Grosjean||FRA||Andretti Autosport||01:08.8407|
|23||51||Takuma Sato||JPN||Dale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing||01:09.2460|
|24||48||Jimmie Johnson||USA||Chip Ganassi Racing||01:09.6203|
|25||29||Devlin DeFrancesco (R)||CAN||Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport||01:09.6432|
|26||11||Tatiana Calderon (R)||COL||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||01:10.2096|