PENSKE'S BRISCOE, POWER LEAD OPENING DAY AT LONG BEACH
LONG BEACH, Calif. (Friday, April 15, 2011) - Team Penske teammates Ryan Briscoe and Will Power topped the combined practice (two sessions) time chart as IZOD IndyCar Series drivers prepared for three rounds of qualifications for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Briscoe, whose top-five starts in the first two races have been negated by contact, turned a lap of 1 minute, 10.7403 seconds on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn street circuit in the No. 6 Penske Truck Rental car. Power, who's earned the PEAK Performance Pole Award in both races this season, had a quick lap of 1:10.8885 in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car.
Ryan Hunter-Reay, the defending race winner, was third (1:10.9984) in the No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda car for Andretti Autosport.
Also on April 15, Esteban Guerrieri joked that he was first and last on the Timing & Scoring sheet for the lone Firestone Indy Lights practice session.
It was an anomaly. Guerrieri was quickest in the 60-minute session with a lap of 1 minute, 15.6670 seconds in the No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car - filling the seat of teammate Conor Daly, who was traveling from Europe. It was fortuitous for the young Argentinian.
"I had a mechanical issue with the (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports) car," said Guerrieri, who has started on the front row in both of the races this season. "The driveshaft broke so I only did one lap. Unfortunately, my teammate isn't here because of his GP3 commitments, so his car was available. I had to know the track and it was useful for the team because his car needed to be shaken down."
Daly is expected at the venue in time for the 45-minute session that precedes the hour-long qualifying April 16.
DAY 1 NOTEBOOK:
The IZOD IndyCar Series will compete in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, an 85-lap race at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. The Firestone Indy Lights series will compete in a 45-lap race at 11 a.m. Sunday.
Legendary car owner Roger Penske was the 2011 Road Racing Drivers Club honoree at an annual event Thursday night at the Long Beach Hilton.
We have all shared some fun times together at the place we all love - the racetrack.
1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal played host to the event, which raises funds for Team USA driver development.
A who's who of racing past and present - past RRDC honorees Dan Gurney and Parnelli Jones were present as were IZOD IndyCar Series drivers Helio Castroneves Dario Franchitti, Will Power, Ryan Briscoe, JR Hildebrand, Simon Pagenaud, Simona de Silvestro and Ana Beatriz.
IZOD IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard, four-time Indy 500 winner Rick Mears, two-time Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk, past IMS track record holder Roberto Guerrero, owners Chip Ganassi and Keith Wiggins and drag racing legend Don Prudomme also enjoyed the story-filled evening.
"To join Dan Gurney and Parnelli Jones as inductees is an incredible honor," Penske said. "I've raced against these guys and had strategize against them as car owners on race day. Parnelli and Dan are two of the top all-time names in racing - any form of racing -- and to be honored and join is a thrill for me. To look out into the crowd and see so many friends, family and racing legends is quite humbling for me.
"We have all shared some fun times together at the place we all love - the racetrack."
Former driver and TV broadcaster Sam Posey in a taped presentation recalled Penske's dynamic career on and off the track through video presentation featuring iconic black and white and color photos from the 1960s to present day. Common threads in the photos - winning and perfection - are Penske hallmarks.
Indy car champion Jimmy Vasser and Target Chip Ganassi Racing received "stars" on the Motorsports Walk of Fame on Thursday in Long Beach.
Chef and television personality Gordon Ramsey is the grand marshal of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing is competing in its 28th consecutive Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (CART, Champ Car, IZOD IndyCar Series). The team, founded in 1982 by Paul Newman and Carl Haas, has six victories and 11 pole starts on the temporary street course.
Ana Beatriz returns to the No. 24 Ipiranga car for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing this weekend. She sat out the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama because of a fractured right wrist (scaphoid bone) that required surgery suffered in the season opener March 27.
I may not be 100 percent, but I will push through it and I'm ready to get back in the Ipiranga car.
Beatriz was re-evaluated April 11 by the INDYCAR medical team and cleared to drive. She has been fitted with a carbon fiber brace that she will wear in the car.
"I was disappointed that I couldn't be in the car at Barber, but I learned a lot from another angle being there with the team," said Beatriz, whose seat was filled by Simon Pagenaud (finished eighth). "I know the Long Beach track as I raced there in Indy Lights so I feel prepared going into the weekend. My wrist will be sore, but the doctors said that I will be OK. I may not be 100 percent, but I will push through it and I'm ready to get back in the Ipiranga car."
Teammate Justin Wilson, who suffered a fractured left wrist in the same race, wore a similar brace at Barber Motorsports Park last weekend.
"My wrist is feeling fine, it just has a little bit of throbbing, not too bad," said Wilson, the runner-up in last year's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. "I'm hoping once I get a rhythm through the hairpin that I will be fine."
Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver Alex Tagliani will make his 160th Indy car start this weekend (27 IZOD IndyCar Series). He won on the streets of Long Beach twice in the Toyota Atlantic Series, and has three top-five Indy car finishes.
Sam Schmidt Motorsports, in its 10th year, will be making its first start in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The team owner, who has an MBA from Pepperdine University, lived in Long Beach with his wife, Sheila, when they were newlyweds.
Andretti Autosport driver Marco Andretti will throw the ceremonial first pitch - with longtime Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda catching -- April 16 at Dodger Stadium before the game against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Additionally, 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner Mario Andretti will drive the street-legal two-seater with Lasorda in the passenger seat. Both will sign autographs at 5:30 p.m. in Autograph Alley.
Drivers will have 20 pushes of the Honda overtake assist - an ECU software alteration employed by Honda Performance Development - each lasting 18 seconds during the race. It is activated by the driver via a button on the steering wheel and provides an extra 200 RPM (about 10 horsepower) to the Honda Indy V-8 engine. Parameters are updated before each race weekend to meet the circuit layout.
There is a 10-second recovery period between pushes. One overtake assist push is available for the warm-up session on Sunday morning.
The dry weather tires for this weekend are the street course primary, which is a new spec for 2011 and used on the streets of St. Petersburg in March. This same primary spec will be used at Brazil. Making its debut this weekend is the street course alternate, which will be used again at Toronto in July.
The alternate tire program, part of the IZOD IndyCar Series since 2009, calls for a second tire specification at road/street courses using the same construction as the primary specification but with a softer tread compound to provide more grip and faster lap times while trading off compound durability for those shorter-term advantages.
Teams are free to use their tire allotment as they see fit, though a new rule for 2011 limits cars to one set of tires (team choice of primary or alternate) for each qualifying segment. Also, per series regulations, all cars must use at least one set of primary tires and one new alternate set during the race, each for a minimum of two green flag laps.
IZOD IndyCar Series drivers will greet fans and sign autographs from 4-5 p.m. April 15 in front of their transporters in the paddock. … Mario Andretti, Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal will greet fans from 6-7 p.m. April 15 at the Beverly Center Macy's in Los Angeles. … Gordon Ramsey of "Hell's Kitchen" fame and the grand marshal of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and Patrick Warburton of "Seinfeld" and "Rules of Engagement" will be among the celebrity passengers in the Indy Racing Experience two-seater on race day. … John Kay & Steppenwolf will cap a busy April 16 when they perform in the Tecate Light "Rock-N-Roar Concert" Presented by KLOS.
Firestone Indy Lights entry update: Ryan Phinny of Carmel Valley, Calif., is now driver of #8 Brooks Associates entry.
Speaking of food, Conquest Racing driver Sebastian Saavedra has developed an affinity for a West Coast classic.
"I don't know what it is, but there's just something about eating at In-N-Out Burger when you're in Southern California," he said. "All the mechanics like it, so any little things I can do to make the crew happy, I'll go for it."
It's always nice to be here and, of course, having my family here will make it even more so.
"It will be only the second time for my sister to see my race in IndyCar (the other being the Indianapolis 500 in 2010)," he said. "California is such a beautiful place. It's always nice to be here and, of course, having my family here will make it even more so."
Charlie Kimball of Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing will have about 60 family and friends rooting for him in Grandstand 6. He's from Camarillo, Calif.
JR Hildebrand, Sunoco Rookie of the Year points leader in the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car, has competed at Long Beach in Toyota Atlantics, Firestone Indy Lights, the American Le Mans Series and now the IZOD IndyCar Series.
Hildebrand won in 2009 in Firestone Indy Lights and he co-drove the Genoa ALMS entry to a class podium (seventh overall in the event) in 2010.
Selected quotes from Danica Patrick's media availability
"I have a lot of fond memories of Long Beach - winning the Pro-Celebrity Race back, oh, 9 or 10 years ago, then coming here in 2008 straight from Motegi to start the whirlwind after my win there and then finishing fourth the next year. Last year wasn't so great, but I have a lot of good memories here. I think that this is a race where a lot of things can happen. That's the nature of the street course so it's important to be there to take advantage of it. I think that the emphasis for me is going to be to do the best I can to get a good qualifying effort out and be farther up the grid."
(About double-file restarts): "Those of you who follow Indy car racing are familiar with the fact that it's challenging to pass in these cars. The double file restarts have really changed that. You can pick up five spots and you can lose five spots so that's been an interesting change that I like in the series."
(About qualifying on street courses): Ultimately, when you don't qualify well, you're forced to take risks. It's best to be up the grid and that's what we're going to be working toward. The first practice session didn't go well at all. We were having a throttle issue. It was as if I was kind of keeping my foot on the throttle all the way around the track all the time so it made it rather difficult to stop the car and start the car so hopefully that will be fixed for the next practice, and we'll be able to feel the car a little bit more. When something like that is wrong it makes it a little bit difficult to feel the changes very well because you're trying to over compensate for something that is not normal. But I think that we could be good. A couple of our teammates were fast - obviously Ryan won last year and he's running well already. So, I think we have some good teammates to look to if we need some specific direction."
(About the season and how it seems to be starting off the same as last year): "I would say that this year has felt a lot better to me than last year. To be honest, this is probably the first practice session that hasn't really gone so well for me so far, but I'm much more in the top 10-15 range instead of way down. I guess I would have been apprehensive to say this a couple of years ago, but the competition is so difficult that if you can make in in the top 10 or 12, that's a good practice. So we've been much better off so far for the most part at practice, it's just that in qualifying it doesn't go well. I've had one of the fastest laps times of the race for the first two races of the year already so the pace is there in the race it's just that when you start further back and you have to take chances." (Is Long Beach one of your best races or your favorite race? ): "I don't think I'd say that (laughing). I enjoy coming to Long Beach. It's here, it's a great atmosphere, but this is not one of my best races. It's part of the schedule and you still have to try and do well.
a great atmosphere and when you're in a good atmosphere like this with all kinds of people and excitement and buzz you always enjoy doing well. But, I struggle more on road courses than I do on ovals - although I've had almost as good of results on road courses - but you have to take chances. I've qualified on the front row a couple of times a few years ago, but it's been a while. My qualifying isn't good enough so you have to take chances in the race then. I like coming
Conor Daly will not participate in the opening Firestone Indy Lights practice session due to his travel schedule from Barcelona, where he was testing with his GP3 team. Daly drives the #77 Mazda Road to Indy car for Sam Schmidt Motorsports in Firestone Indy Lights.
CONOR DALY (No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "Six weeks ago I had the option of missing the whole weekend by not even trying to make it back from Spain, or taking the gamble that the flights might not get in on time. Long Beach is such a mega INDYCAR event that even if the gamble did not pay off and I had to miss the first session, I still wanted to be part of the weekend. I will spend time with my engineer, Chris Finch, Friday afternoon and also learn as much as possible from my team mates".
People in Japan are suffering so much, and the children are going through a terrifying situation.
IZOD IndyCar Series driver Takuma Sato and the Children Mending Hearts organization are collaborating to launch "With you Japan" -- an international fund-raising program that will empower local child-care professionals to provide responsive and proactive care to thousands of children impacted by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan last month.
Speaking engagements, merchandise sales, celebrity collectible auctions, and mobile phone text donations are part of the program. Autographed driving gloves, helmets and race suits from IZOD IndyCar Series competitors will be among the items for auction at www.WithYouJapan.org.
"With you Japan" T-shirts also are available for sale at this weekend's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May and online.
"People in Japan are suffering so much, and the children are going through a terrifying situation," Sato said. "I am personally supporting a few campaigns but since I am competing in the IndyCar Series I want to do something special to support Japan from North America. This With you Japan campaign is going to do several projects and hopefully make a difference."
Tony Kanaan, Alex Tagliani and Simona de Silvestro participated in a taping of a dinner serving of "Hell's Kitchen" with Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach grand marshal and show host Gordon Ramsey. The episode will air this fall.
FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:
ESTEBAN GUERRIERI (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, fastest of the day in #77 Mazda Road to Indy car): "That's funny that I was first and 17th in the session and I had two positions on the (timing screen). I had a mechanical issue with the (No. 7) car. The driveshaft broke so I only did one lap. Unfortunately, my teammate (Conor Daly) isn't here, because of his GP3 commitments, so his car was available. I had to know the track and it was useful for the team because his car needed to be shaken down. We went out and put some laps together to get familiar with everything and in the end we were first." (Will you talk to Conor about trading cars): "No, no. All the cars are the same. It was good to shake it down for the (77) team and for me. It was a good 10 laps and now we have information for tomorrow."
JAMES WINSLOW (No. 26 Andretti Autosport, second fastest): "We had a good session today. We ran on old tires so I am very pleased to be the second fastest in the practice session. I feel like we still had a lot left in the car. The team did a fantastic job and the car is really good this weekend. I am hoping that I can turn this into a good result for tomorrow's qualifying.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 11 Robo-Pong Sam Schmidt Motorsports, fourth-fastest): "With all the different types of cars and tires out there today, I was actually surprised how good the track is today. It wasn't too slick and actually really good for our first practice session. And it's only going to get better throughout the weekend. I expect it to rubber in even more and in a good way. I don't think we'll be playing around with any funky rubber this weekend. It's great to finally drive on the Long Beach track, but it is very hairy. It's a difficult course to be on the limit at, much more difficult than St. Petersburg in my opinion because you are carrying a lot more speed through the mid corners and that adds a lot more danger to it. With those higher speeds, you really need to be in control of the car. But its' great. It's a really, really fun course. I'm enjoying it."
IZOD INDYCAR SERIES POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:
"It's going to be really hairy in Turn 1 on every start and restart on Sunday.
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Penske Truck Rental, fastest of the day): "It's going to be really hairy in Turn 1 on every start and restart on Sunday. Certainly, the big goal is to start at the front and it's going to help a lot. From the third, fourth row back it's going to be such a big bottleneck, and there's going to be some impatient guys out there. We're certainly working hard at getting some speed out of the Penske Truck rental car today. (Street courses seem to suit your style): "Yeah, California certainly feels like Australia and you have that beautiful Pacific air. I love this track. It's a great event and I'm glad we come here. It's part of Indy car tradition and Team Penske has a great history here. I haven't won here and this is certainly one I want to win at." (About incident this morning): "It's great to end the day on top. We made some good changes over lunch time. We got that spin out of the way this morning. We changed the wing and were able to get fast one on there now."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske, second-fastest): "It is very competitive around this track. You can see how close the times are together. We were running on new tires and it turned into a really good session for us. We will make a few changes for tomorrow and see if we can get another pole."
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 34 Conquest Racing): "I think the day went well. We had a good improvement from the first session to the second, so I'm very happy how that went. We found speed that we were needing. We're showing what we're capable of, now we have to try to maintain consistency with no mistakes and we'll be good for the weekend."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy): "We're getting the Venom car to where it needs to be. I have to thank Ryan (Hunter-Reay) for his set-up, it got us closer and now we're in it. We're hoping to have a strong run for qualifying tomorrow and start near the front."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central): "We just can't seem to get it right since we unloaded in Long Beach. The Service Central team is going to go back and reset a little bit tonight. This morning we weren't that bad, but we didn't gain any time between the first and second practice and everyone else really did. We just have to work on making the No. 38 Service Central Honda consistent and driveable. We have some work do before qualifying tomorrow."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog FlexPen): "Today was really good for Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing. We learned a lot and ran good laps - ran a lot of laps. The Novo Nordisk team make big improvements this afternoon and have a really good direction for tomorrow. We're saving tires and will be in good shape for qualifying. The team has done a fantastic job."
TONY KANAAN (No. 82 GEICO - KV Racing Technology - Lotus): "We had a good and productive day. We had the opportunity to test a lot of different things on the car and we found a good baseline for tomorrow's practice and hopefully we'll have a strong qualifying session."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 KV Racing Technology - Lotus): "We tried many things today and we made reasonably good progress, however the field is again very competitive. We really need to work hard on improving the speed of the car. I think all three drivers collected valuable data today that we will go through tonight."
E.J. VISO (No. 59 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology - Lotus): "Today was day where we did a lot of work as a team. We divided the work load between the three cars. Now we have to sit down and put the best scenarios together. During the last part of the session we made some changes to my car that I think were good, but unfortunately I didn't get a chance to do back-to-back runs on my second set of new tires because of the yellow flags. We are heading in the right direction, but we still have a lot of work to do to improve the car.
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Auto Club of Southern California Team Penske): "We improved our Automobile Club of Southern California car between the first and second practice sessions today. We will be sure to take advantage of what my teammates are learning about the track and then apply it to my car for tomorrow. We have some work to do, but we will continue to improve and look forward to a better result tomorrow."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing): "Practice was good, we started a little bit behind but we have to try things and to do that there is a certain amount of risk. Tried something this morning that didn't work and we came back to what we knew worked in St. Pete and got back to where we thought we had to be. It was a good day. I don't know how good yet because some people did new tires and some didn't. I think any time you are within striking distance of P-1 and P-2, it's very reasonable. I like it. We made right decisions all day long and that's what counts."
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "The Bowers & Wilkins team did a fantastic job. I think the car is good and we are very competitive. We did our good lap on old tires. We are definitely pleased with that. There is definitely more in this car tomorrow with new tires. Ending the session the way we did is good."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing): "I'm actually surprised we were 10th fast. It was one of those days that I was not feeling like myself on track. We knew we had something with the setup we wanted to change but we not able to before the second session so we know we will be better tomorrow from that aspect. Through the session I had to work on myself; I was getting frustrated with everything and there was no reason. I am in beautiful California, the Telemundo car wasn't bad and I am driving for a great team but it was one of those days that things didn't seem to run as fluid as usual for the whole team. Hopefully we have all of that out of the way now and things will be good tomorrow for the Telemundo team."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing): "Today was like a baptism by fire; pun intended! In the first session we went out and did a couple of runs bedding brakes then when we started running I noticed a weird smell coming out of the car and very quickly realized we were on fire. It was not a great thing to happen. By the time I got the Sprott car slowed down and got it to a fire station there had been significant damage to the car. I only got about four hot laps in this morning. The guys did an incredible job getting the backup car out so I would like to give a huge thanks to them for getting us back out there. We got back out to try to get some work done and ran into a couple of little problems which isn't totally unexpected when you are pulling a car out of the trailer that hasn't run in a while. We had to fight a couple of little issues and we were up against it on time. We lost a lot of track time today which isn't great but luckily it's a track I know. I'm confident we can take some things from what Oriol learned in the session. Tomorrow is a new day."
The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series continues with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 17 on the Streets of Long Beach, Calif. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 3:30 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 212 and www.indycar.com. The 2011 Firestone Indy Lights season continues April 17 on the Streets of Long Beach, Calif. with the Long Beach 100. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 2 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS.