ANDRETTI LEADS WATER-LOGGED OPENING DAY AT LONG BEACH
LONG BEACH, Calif. (Friday, April 13, 2012) - Marco Andretti topped the time sheets on a soggy opening day on the streets of Long Beach as IZOD IndyCar Series teams began preparations for the 38th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
The third-generation driver, whose family claimed wins in the first four Indy car races on the streets of Long Beach, turned a lap of 1:17.2298 in the No. 26 Team RC Cola Chevrolet as the track dried late in the morning session.
Takuma Sato (1:17.9448) was second in the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda, while defending race winner Mike Conway (1:18.2396) was third in the No. 14 ABC Supply car for A.J. Foyt Racing.
Also on April 13, Tristan Vautier led the only practice session for the Grand Prix of Long Beach Firestone Indy Lights event.
The Frenchman, who leads the series point standings after two races, turned a lap of 1:18.2620 in the No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car. The session, which was slated for an hour, was cut short just past the halfway mark because of rain.
DAY 1 NOTEBOOK:
The IZOD IndyCar Series will compete in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, an 85-lap race at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Sunday. Firestone Indy Lights will compete in the Grand Prix of Long Beach, a 45-lap race at 1:45 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.
Live timing and scoring reports from the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach are available on the Internet at racecontrol.indycar.com.
Feature stories, reports, driver quotes and notes will be posted on the INDYCAR media web site at media.indycar.com. More detailed information, including media advisories and VNF coordinates are also posted on the media web site. Hi-resolution images are available to media at www.indycarmedia.com. Media updates will also be provided on Twitter by following @indycarpr
Most everyone has experience at Long Beach: Twenty-two drivers have competed in the previous three IZOD IndyCar Series races at Long Beach. Rubens Barrichello and Josef Newgarden, who raced at Long Beach last year in Firestone Indy Lights, will compete in their first IZOD IndyCar Series race on the street circuit.
Simon Pagenaud and Katherine Legge have raced at Long Beach in Champ Car and other series. Pagenaud is a two-time winner in the American Le Mans Series (2010, 2011) at Long Beach and also competed in Atlantics in '06. Legge won the 2005 Atlantics race.
"You always like a circuit where you've won, right?" Pagenaud said. "It's fun to drive there. It's a challenging circuit like most street courses, and you have to have the car set up just right, which I'm sure the HP crew will do."
Big shoes to fill: Rookie Josef Newgarden said the size-14 basketball shoes of Indiana Pacers guard Leandro Barbosa are a tight fit in his No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing car.
Newgarden and Andretti Autosport's James Hinchcliffe participated in a helmet/shoe exchange with Barbosa and Pacers 6-foot-9 forward Lou Amundson (who wears a size-15 shoe) on INDYCAR Night at the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on April 6.
Newgarden will appear on an episode of the TV show "Day Jobs" with musician Hunter Hays on April 19 (10 p.m. ET on the Great American Country network). Newgarden spent time with Hays at the IZOD IndyCar Series Open Test in Sebring, Fla., in early March.
He said it: Question for Ryan Hunter-Reay: You were a past winner back at Long Beach. What is it about Long Beach that is a special place for you?
"Well, off the track it's special for many reasons. It's where I had my first big start in racing in the Atlantic Series. It's where I met my wife, where we got engaged. It was my mom's favorite race of the year, was for sure Long Beach, and in 2010 winning it.
"Other than that, I absolute love it. The track is awesome. From a driver perspective it couldn't get much better. The fan attendance and atmosphere at the race is second to none."
Danny Sullivan says being introduced as an Indianapolis 500 winner "never loses its luster," though he wishes it could be altered to "multiple Indy 500 winner."
"People talk about the (1985) win, but (drivers) think about the ones that got away," said Sullivan, whose "spin and win" at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a perennial video clip highlight.
In August, Sullivan will be introduced as a member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. He leads a group of 12 that also includes sprint car builder Floyd "Pop" Dreyer - grandfather of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing co-owner Dennis Reinbold.
Eligibility for induction into the Motorsports Hall of Fame is extended to any person who has driven, piloted, owned, designed, built, supported, maintained, prepared or promoted motorized vehicles in pursuit of speed, distance or other records. Members include pioneers from Amelia Earhart and Shirley Muldowney to Eddie Rickenbacker and Louis Chevrolet.
Sullivan made 12 Indianapolis 500 starts between 1982 and '95. He started eighth in the No. 5 Miller American car (a March/Cosworth) and led 67 laps in holding off Mario Andretti by 2.4 seconds. Overall, he compiled five top-10 finishes.
Sullivan, the 1988 CART champion for Penske Racing, in 2010 was inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame. He won the race in 1992 and attended the ceremony April 12 as his car owner that year, Rick Galles, joined the list of inductees.
Of note: Effective May 1, Terry Angstadt, previously president of INDYCAR's commercial division, will assume the role of executive vice president and general manager of Green Savoree Racing Promotions and will be given the day-to-day reins of Green Savoree Sports and Entertainment, a newly created subsidiary devoted to managing the sales and marketing activities of Green Savoree properties along with the evaluation and acquisition of new opportunities... Motegi Racing is the primary sponsor on the No. 22 Lotus Dreyer & Reinbold Racing car driven by Oriol Servia for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach… Lotus HVM Racing driver Simona de Silvestro, who suffered burns on her hands last May in a practice crash at Indianapolis, met with young burn victims from the Children's Burn Foundation.
More cars penalized: Lotus engines in the Nos. 6 and 22 cars driven by Katherine Legge and Oriol Servia, respectively, were swapped out for fresh 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 power plants before the first IZOD IndyCar Series practice session for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
In addition to the engine changed in the No. 7 Lotus Dragon Racing car driven by three-time Long Beach Indy car race winner Sebastien Bourdais following the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 1, Chevrolet changed out engines in its 11 entries in a precautionary move April 12.
All 14 entries will incur 10-spot grid penalties for the 85-lap race on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn street circuit April 15 because of an unapproved engine change. Rules 15.5.1 and 15.6.1 outline the penalty for a change-out if the engine that has not reached its minimum threshold.
IZOD INDYCAR SERIES POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team RC Cola Chevrolet, fastest of the day): "We were the first to put on slicks, and I was glad we were able to put a good time in the books, but with so little running today in the dry, it doesn't really show anything. The real key is going to be practice three (Saturday morning) That's going to tell the story and we'll be able to see what we have in dry conditions."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda, second-fastest of the day): "It's a shame for the fans that the weather was unlike the usual Long Beach weather. The first practice session started with damp conditions and we ran very few laps just to see how the initial setup was in terms of ride height and those sorts of things. We didn't have a proper run today so all of the work is moving to tomorrow. Hopefully we have a good one-hour session before qualifying. I was on a wet patch on dry tires and touched the wall which damaged the front wing but the team fixed it and we will be ready for a good day tomorrow. We didn't run in the second practice session because there was no knowledge to be gained in the wet. If the weather forecast was for rain Saturday or Sunday, we might have run but the forecast is for dry weather."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda Chevrolet): "We chose not to run in the dry, so we were only out there on rain tires. It's hard to tell what that will mean for the rest of the weekend, but it was useful for a few reads on the DHL/Sun Drop car. Hopefully the lack of track time for everyone will be to our benefit. We've started on the front row the past two years (and won the Long Beach race in 2010), so we're pretty confident in our setup."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): (About accident in second practice): "I just aquaplaned out there. I saw a puddle and thought it was really no big deal. I was waiting for the tires to come up to temperature and asked the team if I should come into the pit lane. Before I even had the chance, I hit the puddle and couldn't turn."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Mouser Electronics/GEICO KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): "I didn't run a lot of laps in the morning session, but I think we have a pretty good car. Mostly I feel bad for the fans because the weather was bad. This is such a great event it is a shame the weather didn't cooperate."
E.J. VISO (No. 5 CITGO/PDVSA KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): "It was a very short day today. I am very excited to be back in Long Beach. It is definitely one of the most challenging street courses in the series. So far, even with the limited amount of laps we have run we feel we have a fast and balanced car, even if the track conditions were not ideal. We didn't run the second practice due to the extreme weather conditions, but tomorrow we expect to have a sunny day and I think we are going to have a great weekend."
RUBENS BARRICHELLO (No. 8 BMC/Embrase KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): "Unfortunately I didn't get the full amount of time on track today because of the bad weather. The good thing is I did get some extra track time this morning, but it looks like the conditions are going to be very different tomorrow."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 Team GoDaddy.com Chevrolet): "Not the most electrifying day I've ever had at the track. It really is a shame because I love driving in the rain, but the forecast for the rest of the weekend is good so it wasn't worth risking the Go Daddy car. The lack of track time isn't really made worse by the penalty situation because low track time is bad any time. But we had a similar situation at barber and like there, it's just a function of taking the hand we've all been dealt and making the best of it tomorrow and Sunday."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Auto Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet): "It was a shame there was rain most of the day today. I feel bad for the fans that came out here to Long Beach. Hopefully things will improve and the weather will be better tomorrow so we get a chance to put on a good show in practice and qualifying. I certainly feel Saturday will be a better day in the Auto Club of Southern California Team Penske car."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "Unfortunately we didn't get much out of today, with all the rain. We just didn't have much track time in the Verizon car, but everyone is in the same boat. It's going to make for a hectic day on Saturday, for sure, but we'll be ready to go."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): "I am feeling good about how the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske car felt out on the track. We didn't have the chance to learn a lot today so the bigger emphasis is now on our preparation as a team going into the weekend which should play into our hands. Hopefully the weather will cooperate better the rest of the weekend so we can get some great racing in for the fans here in Long Beach."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): "It looked more like an Indiana day in May here at Long Beach. It was thunderstorms and heavy rain. And it's cold too here. Boy, I didn't think they had that in California. We ran a little in the rain this morning in the first practice. But we only get five sets of Firestone rain tires, so we decided to save the rest for later. We didn't even run in the second session today. The weather forecast looks good for the rest of the weekend. We're prepared for the first practice on Saturday now. I'm just hoping for some sunny weather for Saturday. I don't even care if it is cold as long as the sun comes out."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 22 Lotus DRR Lotus): "We didn't get as much running as we wanted with the rain. Not having rain in the forecast for tomorrow and Sunday it didn't make sense to go out and risk crashing a car. We had a couple of outings to make sure that the clutch was working fine and the pit speed limit and all of that. It all worked well. It will be a two day weekend like it was for us at Barber and we got a 10 spot penalty again like at Barber. We just need to do a good job at the race like we did last race and try to get out of Long Beach with as many points as possible. It's a track that I like a lot and like very well. At the end I think not running today didn't hurt us as much, especially because there are drivers out there that don't know the track. Having just one day of practice for us won't hurt us that bad."
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 7 Lotus Dragon Racing Lotus): "I think this car seems to fit my driving style. I don't think last year's car was bad for me, I just think you couldn't oscillate around as much, there wasn't as much downforce, the rear of the car was a little more nervous, and it definitely wasn't my favorite. This car is a lot more settled, the rear of the car was really strong, it's got probably an understeer, which is always going to be more or less there in the middle and that's something I can deal with pretty good. So yeah I think it's definitely my favorite, and it's been working out pretty good for me."
FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:
TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "There were two corners that were wet, one corner, Turn 10 was wet, but the rest was all dry. Then we started to get the rain drops and we were like, 'Oh, is the track getting wet or not?' It was quite hard to know or judge how the track was going to be. We were getting to the corners because it was raining more and more, and we didn't if it was really getting the track that wet, so it was pretty interesting." (About conditions): "It was really slippery, we're really far from the times from last year. But of course, we only ran for 15 minutes, so I think it's always the same in these kind of situations."
OLIVER WEBB (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "When we first went out it wasn't that bad, it was pretty dry, the wind was quite heavy and we thought it was coming, but I think we both managed to do quite a few laps before the rain came in. It's a bit inconsistent when you're getting rain drops on your visor, but at the speed you're doing it's hitting our visor obviously more than it's hitting the track, so you have to judge that point when it starts affecting the track and when you have to start backing it off a bit and not go as close to the walls. It wasn't too bad, I think both of our main priority was to learn the track because none of us have been here before and Star Mazda doesn't do this track, so it's good to for us to get some laps in before the rain really came down." (About the conditions) "I think if anything it's good that we went out on a green track because it's still raining and still heavy, our original thought was, "Great, the IZOD IndyCar guys are going to go out before us and rubber the track in for us and we'll know what it's like to go on the track tomorrow," but I think we went out on a green track, it's rained again, it's now green again. By the time we go out tomorrow morning with it being early, 8'oclock in the morning for practice, it'll probably be just as similar and we'll be quite far off the time anyway unless magically the sun comes out really early tomorrow it's going to be a bit slippy, I think."
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 27 Team AFS Racing): "It's always good to be back in Long Beach - this is my fourth time racing at this track and it's always good to come into a weekend with that experience, especially when the rain cuts the session short. The session started out dry but then the rain seemed to come out of nowhere so we weren't able to get a lot of laps in today with the AFS car. But we managed to get a good baseline for the car and we are looking strong already."
CARLOS MUÑOZ (No. 26 Team Dialy-Ser): "This is my first time on this circuit so I was looking to get ten laps (in on dry conditions) before tomorrow because the rest of the weekend will be dry. Overall I feel strong and am looking forward to practice and qualifying tomorrow."