Newgarden leads IndyCar Long Beach morning warm-up

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Josef Newgarden continues his Long Beach weekend prowess in the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda, after setting the fastest time in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach morning warm-up.

The Tennessee native clocked a flier of 1:08.3447; he’ll roll off from fourth this afternoon (race Sunday, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra).

Sebastien Bourdais, who starts third, was second (1:08.7762 in No. 11 Mistic Electronic Cigarettes KVSH Racing Chevrolet) with pole sitter Ryan Hunter-Reay third (1:08.9968 in No. 28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda).

Hunter-Reay had a near disaster in the morning when rookie Mikhail Aleshin spun in front of him, exiting Turn 6, and RHR took evasive action to the outside of the left-handed, uphill corner to avoid the SMP Racing-backed driver.

Will Power and Scott Dixon rounded out the top five. Justin Wilson only completed one lap in the No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing entry as he reported he did not have full power.

One red flag interrupted the 30-minute session, when an orange cone was offline in-between Turns 9 and 10.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.