Simon Pagenaud led opening practice for the NTT IndyCar Series on Friday for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Conditions were uncharacteristic for Long Beach, with track temperatures soaring to 133F and the ambient at 95F. Additionally, the start of the one-hour session was absorbed with track cleanup due to a prior session from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Cars finally got on track with roughly 45 minutes remaining, which featured a disjointed session full of fast lap times and several incidents.
Starting at the top, Pagenaud, piloting the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Honda, put down a flying lap of 1m07.1991s around the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit. The pace was well ahead of the second-place point man Alexander Rossi (Andretti Autosport), who turn a lap 0.4021s slower than the 37-year-old Frenchman.
The Team Penske duo of Scott McLaughlin and Josef Newgarden ended up third and fourth, with Marcus Ericsson leading the Chip Ganassi Racing stable in fifth.
There were a number of cars that ended up utilizing the run-off areas, including defending race winner Colton Herta.
Pato O’Ward was the first of the group to suffer an incident when his No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet slapped the left rear into the wall at the exit of Turn 5, which also bent the toe-link and put him behind the wall. The team was able to make quick repairs and send him back out before the end of the session, where he ended up 14th on the leaderboard.
One of the more significant moments came with 16 minutes remaining in the session when two separate incidents – both involving CGR drivers – at different ends of the track brought out the first red flag.
Scott Dixon ended up stalled in the runoff area of Turn 9 and needed assistance that included the AMR IndyCar Safety Team extinguishing the front brakes before returning him to pit lane. Around the same time, Jimmie Johnson hopped the inside curbing on the entry to Turn 5, making him a passenger as the momentum carried him into the tire barrier on exit of the corner.
Turn 5 strikes again.
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The restart to the session was brief as Turn 5 also ended up collecting A.J. Foyt Racing’s Dalton Kellett, who spun and backed into the tire barriers, with the red flag returning with 12m29s to go.
Up Next: The second practice session will run on Saturday at 11:45 a.m. ET, with live coverage on Peacock and the IndyCar Radio Network.