Montoya fastest in Long Beach first practice

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Juan Pablo Montoya led the opening practice session for this weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Driving the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, the 1999 race winner set a best time of 1:08.1290 around the 1.968-mile street circuit.

Teammate Will Power was second at 1:08.3714 with Jack Hawksworth third, and fastest Honda, at 1:08.4839.

Josef Newgarden and Takuma Sato were fourth and fifth.

With just under 15 minutes to go, Alexander Rossi nosed into the tire barriers at Turn 8 in his No. 98 Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Honda.

“We had a cut left front, so we had to put a new front tire on,” Rossi told IndyCar Radio’s Nick Yeoman. “It caught us out a little bit. The initial laps were pretty positive. It’s a little setback but we only lost about 10 minutes.

“It was alright, actually. Front wing was gone, but very minimal suspension damage.

“It’s amazing man. I’m really pleased to be in California. It’s an amazing atmosphere and I feel really fortunate to be here.”

It brought the session under a red flag and forced track repairs, which took the session down to under 7 minutes remaining. There was a five-minute extension to the session, to extend it from a planned 10:45 finish and 45 minutes to 10:50 a.m.

A second incident occurred when Charlie Kimball ran in too deep at Turn 9 in his No. 83 Tresiba Chevrolet, with more brake issues. The car didn’t suffer any sustainable damage, but it did bring out another red flag and an early end to the session.

Still, after having a similar brake-related problem at the end of St. Petersburg, it’s weird to see Kimball parked again.

The session began with temperatures of 68 degrees Fahrenheit ambient and 86 on track.

Times are below; second practice occurs at 2 p.m. PT and local time.

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Malcolm Stewart sidelined by knee surgery for ‘extended duration’

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The knee injury that kept Malcolm Stewart from mounting up for Anaheim 2 will require surgery and he will be sidelined for “an extended duration” of the Monster Energy Supercross season, according to the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team.

“I just wanted to give you guys an update,” Stewart said on Instagram. “It’s not the news you guys want to hear, but I took a spill last week and hurt my knee pretty bad to the point that we’re going to have to get surgery done.

“I’m definitely bummed out about it; I felt we were riding pretty good and were just now starting to get the ball rolling, but it is what it is.”

Stewart’s season started with high expectations until accidents in the first two rounds left him 15th in the standings.

He ended 2022 on a high note, finishing a career high third in the Supercross standings. He then missed the start of the Pro Motocross season with another knee injury.

The 2023 season appeared to live up to his expectations. Despite back-to-back accidents, Stewart contended for podiums at both Anaheim 1 and San Diego. He won his heat at San Diego.

“It was very tough to receive the news that Malcolm will need to undergo knee surgery,” Nathan Ramsey, Team Manager for the Husqvarna team said in a press release. “He has worked so hard to be in a position to win races this year and I truly believe he was ready.

“The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing program will support him in every way that we can through his recovery and we can’t wait to get him back on track and back at the races.”

Stewart joins 250 rider Jalek Swoll on the sidelines after he broke an arm in a practice session. Swoll will be relieved by Talon Hawkins beginning this week at Houston, Texas.

A replacement rider has not been announced for Stewart, which means the focus shifts to his 450 teammate Christian Craig, who currently sits 12th in the standings with three top-15s in the opening rounds.