Long Beach, Calif. – Ryan Hunter-Reay picked up where he left off two weeks ago at Barber Motorsports Park, running first and fast. In preparation for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion had the fastest speed on Friday after two rounds of practice -- 102.054 miles per hour around the 1.968-mile street course.
“It is great to be on top here,” the speedster said. “I love Long Beach and this race track. Unfortunately, we didn’t get enough work done on the car that we wanted, but we should get it done in the morning.”
Hunter-Reay was driving the DHL Chevrolet owned by Andretti Autosport.
Said Conway, the 2011 winner, “It is good to be back. I love this place, the whole event. It is a cool layout.”
His speed in the blue Cigs Honda was 101.998 mph. The car is fielded by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
Regarding his comeback event, he added, “There were no cobwebs, and I didn’t feel rusty. I felt pretty good coming back, and it is good to be fast right away. We got one clear lap in and I think a lot of people got one or they didn’t get any, so we were lucky to get the one.”
The absence of clear laps and prolonged runs was thwarted by a series of crashes that involved Scott Dixon, Justin Wilson and Simona de Silvestro and a lesser incident spin by Sebastian Saavedra.
“I just lost it on entry (into turn 9) and chased it into the wall. It was my fault,” Dixon said, indicating his car had been acceptable before that.
Prior to the Dixon accident Wilson made contact with the tire barrier in turn 8 and de Silvestro struck the rear of Wilson’s car.
Explained de Silvestro, “Justin (Wilson) had an incident, and there was no yellow flag. I saw him too late and ran into him. It was pretty unfortunate because I think we were pretty quick.”
Will Power had the third fastest speed followed by rookie Tristan Vautier and Helio Castroneves.
The IndyCars have a final practice on Saturday morning followed by qualifications at 5 p.m. ET.