This weekend the Verizon IndyCar Series heads to California for the 35th running of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. If 2017’s event is anything to go by, this year’s race along the famed street course will be full of excitement.
In Friday’s two practice sessions, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon led the way with a combined lap time of 1:08.4 seconds.
“The PNC Bank car was fast right out of the box. We went out and were quick in our first run, then improved upon that in the second run,” said the veteran racer following Friday’s second session.
Defending race winner James Hinchcliffe comes into this weekend after a solid 6th place finish last week in Phoenix.
“Last year was obviously pretty special taking the win! The entire team has had a really strong start to the season,” said Hinchcliffe prior to the start of the weekend.
In practice Hinchcliffe looked strong, posting the fifth fastest lap overall with a time of 1:08.9 seconds in the morning session.
“It was an up-and-down day. There was a really big change on the track for us from Practice 1 to Practice 2, so we struggled a lot with the car balance this afternoon,” Said Hinchcliffe following a difficult afternoon session where he placed the seventh fastest lap.
Defending series champion Simon Pagenaud, who’s had a rather lacklustre start to the 2018 campaign, looked strong in practice with the fourth overall time. The Frenchman is hoping to give his season a boost after a disappointing result last weekend in Phoenix.
“We had a lot of performance in Phoenix this past weekend, but unfortunately, I made a costly mistake in the pits early in the race,” said Pagenaud ahead of this on-track action. “This weekend, we’re putting that behind us and look ahead to putting a great performance together in the #22 DXC Technology Chevrolet.”
Perhaps the most talked about driver after the first two races of the season is Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Robert Wickens. The veteran Canadian DTM driver, but who is an IndyCar rookie, arrives at Long Beach following an impressive second place finish last weekend at Phoenix.
“I definitely can’t complain with how competitive we’ve been in the first two races. Long Beach is going to be a new challenge,” Said Wickens.
The driver of the #6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda struggled in his on-track debut at Long Beach, posting the 14th fastest time.
“It’s still early in the weekend, and we have a lot of hard work ahead of us. From what I remember of St. Pete, we also weren’t that strong through free practice, but we came out good in the end,” said the Canadian after Friday practice.
Coverage of this weekend’s IndyCar Series action can be found on BT Sport ESPN from 9pm.