Photo: Justin R. Noe/ASP, Inc.

Friday INDYCAR Musings: Long Beach

By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer

LONG BEACH, California —The opening day of practice for the 44th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach kicked off with two practice sessions with Andretti Autosport on the fast end of the grid.

The duo of 2010 Long Beach winner Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi were second and third in the morning session but in the afternoon Rossi led the field from Hunter-Reay. 2015 Long Beach winner Scott Dixon led the first session with a 1 minute, 8.4112 second lap around the 1.968 mile street circuit.

Manufacturer Battle

Honda has had the measure of Chevrolet for the most part so far this weekend. In the opening session they occupied five of the top six positions and seven of the first nine in the second session. 2016 Long Beach winner Simon Pagenaud was the top Chevrolet in fourth place during the morning session while Josef Newgarden (third) and 2008/2012 winner Will Power (sixth) broke up the Honda stranglehold at the top of the charts.

Rookies

While rookies excelled in St. Petersburg, they have struggled so far in Long Beach. Zach Veach was the fastest rookie in the morning in 13th while Matheus Leist and Kyle Kaiser were at the bottom of the time sheet in 23rd and 24th respectively. In the afternoon session, Veach again was the top rookie in 13th but the last rookie was Zachary Claman De Melo in 23rd.

Past Winners

If you were a past Long Beach winner, you had a great day in practice as the lowest placed former winner in each session was in tenth.

Morning session:

1st: Scott Dixon (2015)
2nd: Ryan Hunter-Reay (2010)
4th: Simon Pagenaud (2016)
5th: James Hinchcliffe (2017)
6th: Takuma Sato (2013)
7th: Will Power (2008, 2012)
10th: Sebastien Bourdais (2005, 2006, 2007)

Afternoon session:

2nd: Ryan Hunter-Reay (2010)
4th: Takuma Sato (2013)
5th: Scott Dixon (2015)
6th: Will Power (2008, 2012)
7th: James Hinchcliffe (2017)
9th: Sebastien Bourdais (2005, 2006, 2007)
10th: Simon Pagenaud (2016)

New Team Struggles

Newer teams in the Verizon IndyCar Series had a bit of a rough time getting used to the circuit. Jack Harvey was 16th in both sessions in his No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing/Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda. Carlin’s Max Chilton was 18th with teammate Charlie Kimball in 22nd in the morning. In the afternoon, Chilton was 17th while Kimball was 20th. Gabby Chaves brought his No. 88 Harding Racing Chevrolet home in 22nd in the morning and 24th in the second session while Kyle Kaiser was 24th for Juncos Racing in the morning and 21st in the afternoon.

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A 2012 graduate of LSU, Christopher DeHarde primarily focuses on the Verizon IndyCar Series and the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. DeHarde has actively covered motorsports since 2014.