Dixon tops Honda-dominated first practice at Long Beach

Photo: IndyCar

LONG BEACH, Calif. – The Honda pace that kicked off the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg continued in the opening 45-minute practice session for this weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Scott Dixon took his No. 9 NTT Data Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing to the top of the timesheets near the end of the session with a best time of 1:07.6357 around the 1.968-mile street circuit.

Dixon won here in 2015 for the first time and was frustrated to end in second last year after Simon Pagenaud’s pit lane exit from his final pit stop drew a warning, but not a penalty, from INDYCAR Race Control.

Helio Castroneves broke up an all-Honda top-six, as the two-time defending polesitter took his No. 3 AAA Chevrolet for Team Penske to second right at the end of the session at 1:07.7679.

St. Petersburg winner Sebastien Bourdais was third in his No. 18 Sonny’s BBQ Honda for Dale Coyne Racing at 1:07.8187 with James Hinchcliffe fourth and Will Power, a two-time Long Beach winner (2008, 2012) in fifth.

Per IndyCar Radio, Max Chilton was sidelined a bit, with electrical issues putting pause to most of the session in his No. 8 Gallagher Honda.

The session ran without any red flags although a couple cars ran into the runoff area (Dixon, Kanaan, Hinchcliffe and Mikhail Aleshin were captured by the cameras).

Times are below. Second practice is LIVE on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App (stream link here) from 2 p.m. PT and local time, and 5 p.m. ET.

Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
Barry Chin / Getty Images

Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

How to Watch Nitro Rallycross

Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.