Pagenaud, Bourdais lead IndyCar Long Beach second practice

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Throughout most of the second 45-minute session for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the field was tight – within a second for all 23 cars. As it was, the top 19 ended within 0.9377 of a second, with the field covered by just 1.4354.

Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay led most of the session before Justin Wilson, driving for Dale Coyne Racing, got ahead of him at 1:09.7016. Only two drivers made it into the 1:09 bracket in first practice, led by RHR’s Andretti teammate James Hinchcliffe.

It was close until Simon Pagenaud dropped a 1:09.1488 in the newly liveried blue, white and green No. 77 Charter Honda for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports that put him up by more than half a second.

“It’s been good thus far,” said Pagenaud. “The Honda is behaving really well; the drivability is right there. We have good power delivery.”

But his countryman got within 0.012 of a second, with Sebastien Bourdais second in the No. 11 Mistic Electronic Cigarettes Chevrolet for KVSH Racing at 1:09.1608. Bourdais said the balance is good on his car.

Both are past Long Beach race winners; Pagenaud won the 2010 American Le Mans Series race, with Bourdais a three-time winner in the Champ Car ranks from 2005 through 2007.

A second Charter-sponsored entry, the No. 98 BHA/BBM Honda driven by rookie Jack Hawksworth, clocked in third at 1:09.4409.

The last two Long Beach race winners, Takuma Sato and Will Power, completed the top five.

Times are linked here; the session had no red flags.

Daniel Ricciardo would relish being Lewis Hamilton’s teammate

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BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — Daniel Ricciardo says he would relish the challenge of having Lewis Hamilton as his teammate if he joins Mercedes next year.

Ricciardo is out of contract at Red Bull at the end of the season and expressed interest in joining teams like Mercedes or Ferrari to help him challenge for the championship.

The Australian says he would “love to obviously be challenged against the best and Lewis is obviously up there.”

He adds: “I don’t want to say it’s just Lewis I’m looking for but that would be a good challenge.”

Ricciardo says he won’t accept a faster car if it means playing second fiddle to an established star.

He says “there’s always been really good clarity and fairness (at Red Bull) … and I would expect that environment everywhere.”