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Practice report

IndyCar Long Beach: O’Ward leads Power in opening practice

Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward was quickest in opening practice for this weekend’s IndyCar Series round at the Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Patricio O'Ward, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Photo by: Penske Entertainment

The Mexican delivered a quick run of 1m06.6874s in Group 1 running on a set of softer alternate tyres to set the day’s best time.

Team Penske’s Will Power, who was best in the second group, delivered a mighty effort of his own with the lap of 1m06.7811s that led his bracket and ultimately put him second overall.

The rest of the top five in overall times between all segments featured Scott McLaughlin in third (+ 0.1384s), followed by Felix Rosenqvist (+ 0.1726) and Josef Newgarden (+ 0.2102).

Group 1 – 10 minutes

Christian Lundgaard held the top spot briefly before setting in third at 0.3981s in the No. 45 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda. However, he was dethroned moments later by O’Ward and then Meyer Shank Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist by 0.1726s.

Rookie Christian Rasmussen was able to run 0.5899s off O’Ward’s mark to end up fourth in the opening group in the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet.

Juncos Racing’s Agustin Canapino was fifth-fastest in the group, but 0.6994s behind the top mark set by O’Ward.

Group 2 – 10 minutes

McLaughlin wheeled his No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet to a fast lap of 1m06.8258.

Moments later, Power was able to hustle to within 0.0169s of his Team Penske team-mate and then, in the final seconds, hurdled him to a run at 1m06.7811s to lead the group.

Newgarden climbed to third in the group with a final push at the end to make it a Team Penske 1-2-3 in the second group.

Reigning and two-time IndyCar Series champion Alex Palou concluded the segment fourth.

One of the two incidents in the group began with Dale Coyne Racing rookie Nolan Siegel, who locked up in Turn 9 and ended up in the runoff area with six minutes left, losing valuable time until finally getting back out nearly two minutes later.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s rookie, Kyffin Simpson, brought out the red flag with just under two minutes to go after locking up and going into the runoff area Turn 9. He made a similar incident in the last minute of the 45-minute all cars segment to also bring out a red flag.

All cars 45-minute segment

The opening 45 minutes saw the entire field out pounding laps on the 11-turn, 1.968-mile temporary street circuit.

Andretti Global’s Colton Herta set the early pace with a 1m07.4217s lap, trading the top spot with Team Penske’s Will Power on multiple occasions.

However, McLaughlin vaulted to the top of the leaderboard with three minutes remaining in the opening 45 minutes after hitting a flying lap of 1m07.3709s.

Rosenqvist backed up his strong showing on the Streets of St. Petersburg by ending up fourth, ahead of O’Ward in fifth.

Reigning Formula 2 champion Theo Pouchaire, who is making his debut this weekend in the No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet substituting for the injured David Malukas, was patient with the throttle in his first official laps in the opening 10 minutes.

It didn’t take long, though, for him to build up some competitive pace, logging 18 laps with a best of 1m08.9118s (23rd in the segment) by the end of the full field running.

Pourchaire logged a session-most 35 laps, ending up 21st overall in all segments after an outright best lap of 1m08.2857s, which came in Group 2 running.

A few drivers encountered issues, including defending race winner Kyle Kirkwood. He was rolling out of Turn 9 with roughly 25 minutes remaining when he slowed and opted to abandon the hairpin and dipped behind the break of the wall entering Turn 10 to escape to pit lane.

Software issues were suspected on his No. 27 Andretti Global Honda as there was mention of him struggling to downshift to first gear.

Rookie Tom Blomqvist was forced to wait on his car arriving nearly 20 minutes after the start of practice, with his No. 66 Meyer Shank Racing Honda hit with throttle position sensor problem that required attention.

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