LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 11, 2014) -- Team Penske progressed solidly through the first day of practice Friday for the 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the second race of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
Will Power, fresh from his March 30 victory in the season opener at St. Petersburg, Fla., had the fifth-fastest lap Friday -- 1:09.4980 in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet. Power has won three consecutive races dating back to last season. The native of Toowoomba, Australia is also a two-time winner at Long Beach.
“It wasn’t a bad day for Verizon Team Penske, but we need to find a bit more," said Power. "(The times are) ridiculously tight, but there’s a bit of a gap to (Simon) Pagenaud and (Sebastien) Bourdais. I don’t know what they’re doing, but it seems to be working for them. It was a hard-working day. Tomorrow when we put on (Firestone) red tires for the first time, we know we’ll be faster, but it’s always a bit of an unknown because it changes the car.”
Meanwhile, Juan Pablo Montoya, who won the 25th anniversary Long Beach race in 1999, had the ninth-fastest lap of the day in just the second event since his return to the Verizon IndyCar Series. He was clocked at 1:09.6987 in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet.
“We definitely picked up at the end. The No. 2 Verizon Chevy had a bit of an understeer after we put new tires on it. We worked through that," said Montoya. "I’m doing a better job myself. I feel like I’m pushing myself harder here than at St. Pete. At St. Pete it was all about being cautious. Here, I’m trying to get a little more performance out of the car early on. We’re making progress. We aren’t there yet but we aren’t that bad.”
Helio Castroneves, the 2001 winner of the Grand Prix of Long Beach, was 19th on the practice charts Friday with a lap of 1:10.0865 in the No. 3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet.
“The last practice was a little bit of a struggle," said Castroneves, the three-time Indy 500 winner. "The Automobile Club of Southern California Chevy felt comfortable in the first session but we definitely lacked speed there at the end. We will all just go to work and come up with a game plan for the rest of the weekend. I love this racetrack but we will need to qualify well.”
The third practice session for the Grand Prix of Long Beach will take place Saturday at 1 p.m. ET before qualifying begins at 4:15 p.m. ET.
Sunday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is scheduled to begin at 4:50 p.m. ET. It will be televised live by NBC Sports Network.