Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach - Day 1

Hunter-Reay leads Long Beach practice two

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Ryan Hunter-Reay led an incident-marred second practice session at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach at 1:09.4224.

“We’re executing a little better,” said the Andretti Autosport driver and defending IZOD IndyCar Series champion. “We’ll take the balance of what we learned today and apply it to tomorrow. We know what we’re working with.”

Mike Conway was second once again for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, with Will Power, Tristan Vautier and Helio Castroneves in the top five.

Conway, who like Hunter-Reay is a former Long Beach race winner (2011), hasn’t appeared to miss a beat for his first race back in IndyCar since Baltimore last year.

“There were cobwebs, but I felt good coming into the weekend,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about this since February.”

James Jakes, Alex Tagliani, Dario Franchitti, Takuma Sato and James Hinchcliffe completed the top 10.

Four red flags peppered the 45-minute session for the IZOD IndyCar Series. Sebastian Saavedra, Justin Wilson, Simona de Silvestro, Scott Dixon and E.J. Viso all had unscheduled appointments with the concrete barriers.

Saavedra led off the session when nosing into the Turn 1 wall. Later, Wilson went into the tires at Turn 8 and de Silvestro, who ran a wider exit of the 90-degree right hander, crashed right into him with nowhere to go.

Turn 9 was the trouble spot for both Dixon and Viso. Dixon hit the wall exiting the corner and damaged his left rear suspension, while Viso nosed into the tire barriers going into the corner.

Combined times from Practice 1 and 2 are below:

Rank  Car Driver            Team                C/E/T Time 

1.     1    Ryan Hunter-Reay     Andretti               D/C/F 1:09.4224
2.     17   Mike Conway          RLL                    D/H/F 1:09.4603
3.     12   Will Power           Penske                 D/C/F 1:09.5166
4.     55   Tristan Vautier      Schmidt Peterson       D/H/F 1:09.5657
5.     3    Helio Castroneves    Penske                 D/C/F 1:09.6008
6.     16   James Jakes          RLL                    D/H/F 1:09.7664
7.     98   Alex Tagliani        Barracuda/BHA          D/H/F 1:09.7829
8.     10   Dario Franchitti     Target Chip Ganassi    D/H/F 1:09.7891
9.     27   James Hinchcliffe    Andretti               D/C/F 1:09.8157*
10.    14   Takuma Sato          Foyt                   D/H/F 1:09.9197
11.    78   Simona de Silvestro  KV                     D/C/F 1:10.0767*
12.    19   Justin Wilson        Coyne                  D/H/F 1:10.1028*
13.    9    Scott Dixon          Target Chip Ganassi    D/H/F 1:10.1479*
14.    15   Graham Rahal         RLL                    D/H/F 1:10.1906*
15.    67   Josef Newgarden      Fisher Hartman         D/H/F 1:10.2081*
16.    77   Simon Pagenaud       Schmidt Hamilton       D/H/F 1:10.2472
17.    25   Marco Andretti       Andretti               D/C/F 1:10.3292
18.    7    Sebastien Bourdais   Dragon                 D/C/F 1:10.3736
19.    4    JR Hildebrand        Panther                D/C/F 1:10.4001*
20.    11   Tony Kanaan          KV                     D/C/F 1:10.4956
21.    2    AJ Allmendinger    Penske                 D/C/F 1:10.5424
22.    5    EJ Viso              Venezuela/Andretti/HVM D/C/F 1:10.8132
23.    83   Charlie Kimball      Novo Nordisk Ganassi   D/H/F 1:10.8156*
24.    18   Ana Beatriz          Coyne                  D/H/F 1:11.0011*
25.    22   Oriol Servia         Panther DRR            D/C/F 1:11.0586*
26.    6    Sebastian Saavedra   Dragon                 D/C/F 1:11.0693*
27.    20   Ed Carpenter         Carpenter              D/C/F 1:11.6747

*Fastest time set in Practice 1 instead of Practice 2

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Carlos Munoz

Carlos Munoz
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver roster in this year’s Verizon IndyCar Series. Next up in 13th is Carlos Munoz, who fell back to earth a bit after winning Indianapolis 500, then series rookie-of-the-year honors in consecutive years.

Carlos Munoz, No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda

  • 2014: 8th Place, Best Finish 3rd, Best Start 3rd, 3 Podiums, 5 Top-5, 8 Top-10, 0 Laps Led, 10.5 Avg. Start, 12.6 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 13th Place, 1 Win, Best Start 4th, 1 Podium, 3 Top-5, 7 Top-10, 25 Laps Led, 14.0 Avg. Start, 12.1 Avg. Finish

Munoz fell down to earth a little bit in his second full season in IndyCar, albeit not as badly as fellow 2014 rookie Jack Hawksworth, who’d switched teams and had a myriad of issues throughout the season. He won his first race in the rain at Detroit race one, which was well judged, but there were precious other highlights from the driver who has showcased “wow” potential in the past.

His qualifying fell off year-to-year and that was probably the single thing to pinpoint as to why the decline occurred, falling from eighth to 13th in points. What had been a 10.5 average in 2014 fell to 14th this year, and behind teammates Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Ovals seemed his strongest type of circuit this year on the whole. Like teammate Justin Wilson, he’d been in position to score what would have been his third straight Indianapolis 500 top-five finish if a late splash of fuel wasn’t needed. Sixth at Texas from fourth on the grid marked his best overall weekend of the year, and fifth at Iowa and Pocono were also fairly good results.

But whereas Munoz picked his spots well last year and delivered a handful of podiums, his Detroit win marked his only podium visit this year. He didn’t really make much of an impression and was more anonymous than not over the course of the year. His future with Andretti is uncertain for 2016.

Williams maximizes wet setup work despite limited running in Sochi

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With action pretty much limited in both practice sessions due to the diesel spillage in free practice one and rain in free practice two for the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, teams could only do limited wet-weather runs.

Williams Martini Racing tried to make the best of the circumstances, as one of only five teams that completed laps in FP2 (McLaren, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Ferrari) with eight cars.

Felipe Massa led second practice but it was an essentially meaningless session.

“It was quite a stunted session today which stopped us from completing all of the work we wanted to,” said Rob Smedley, Williams’ head of vehicle performance. “We had planned to run in the wet but we had a strange situation this afternoon in that half of the circuit was much wetter than the other half which made most of the tests null and void.

“We have been working on the wet set-up of the car and so wanted to get out at the end of FP2 to see the progress we have made. In a similar vein to our low speed corner work in Singapore, we seem to be making progress. We got through all of the bits and pieces we wanted to get through in terms of control systems and power unit set-up, and we have to go into tomorrow with a good plan for FP3 to get the car set-up for qualifying and the race.”

Valtteri Bottas finished third in Sochi a year ago, while Massa seeks a rebound after a fuel flow issue in qualifying resigned him to a Q1 elimination and an 11th place finish.