IndyCar: Saturday Morning Update from the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach

Today is shaping up to be a much nicer day than the sizzling temperatures of yesterday in Long Beach after waking up to 64 degrees.   The high temperature for today is predicted to be in the normal range of the low 70s.  That will be much better weather for the cars in the NTT Data Series.

Simon Pagenaud, the driver of the number 60 AutoNation/Sirius XM Meyer Shank Racing entry and fastest in the Friday practice, talked to the media yesterday about the track conditions.

“What I noticed is on track it seems like there’s new sealants from turn one all the way to turn five. I’m assuming that is what makes the tires work better.  Turn six is actually not that grippy, but then you go to turn eight, really grippy. ”

“A lot of it is how the tires will suit the track and how hot the track is,”  Pagenaud said. “When it’s colder, the tire doesn’t overheat and produces more grip for you. The downforce also works better. The worst cars tomorrow are going to get better, and it’s going to level up the field, basically. The fastest car is still going to be fast, but the margin will not be as much. You have to expect that.”

“With the temperature change, we know what aerodynamical change we need to make on the front wing versus the rear wing. Simulation programs these days really help for these conditions. It’s amazing the technology that goes into it and how much we can trust it.”


Alexander Rossi

Photo Courtesy of IndyCar

Alexander Rossi, the driver of the number 27 NAPA Auto Part/AutoNation Andretti Autosport entry, also was surprised to see the track have so much grip.

“The track was black. There was a huge amount of grip. Not always does the rubber translate to performance for us. It was already very fast despite it being over 130 degrees track temp. We’ll see what happens in the Saturday practice session.”

“Yeah, I think from us, from September to now, I think our baselines, you always start
with a car that you ended with if you were happy, right? We started with a version of that based on what we expected the first session grip level to be. Obviously, the Andretti team  has been very strong here for a long time. So I don’t think we were ever thinking to stray too far from the baseline. Regardless of aeroscreen or not, the car has been fast.”


Callum Ilott

Callum Ilott, Photo by Lucille Dust/

Callum Ilott, the driver of the number 77 Juncos Hollinger Racing entry, had a strong finish in the Friday practice of ninth.  The British rookie had raced here in September of 2021.

“Yeah, obviously a great start to the weekend, yeah. We had a lot of items to test. This is one of the tracks I’d been at last year. It made sense to put the most items to test on the weekend here. I got through all of that obviously with a good result as well.”

“Team’s happy, engineers are happy, driver is happy. Had a little moment with the wall. What’s a push like without a wall moment?  Yeah, pretty happy. Will have to adapt a little bit for tomorrow because of the change of conditions, quite cooler.”

Interesting to note that a tweet by Jay Frye came out yesterday showing Ilott’s aeroscreen getting hit by a piece of debris after Jack Harvey crashed at Texas Motor Speedway in March.  Ilott talked about the incident with the media and described what he saw as a crack in the aeroscreen.

“I mean, what’s amazing for me is I just came in, I tell my team I think I hit something, can you check the car. Obviously, I’d gone through a lot of debris. I looked at the aeroscreen. There was a slight hairline crack in the light. They couldn’t see it at first.”

“After the session I said, Can you check that, make sure it’s okay? The aeroscreen had to be changed out of precaution.”

AR1 is checking with the series to see what the actual verdict is on if the aeroscreen was actually cracked.   It would take a huge amount of force to break that safety feature.


Jimmie Johnson

Jimmie Johnson may be done for the weekend

Jimmie Johnson, the driver of the number 48 CARVANA Ganassi Racing entry, had an accident in the Friday practice which caused a red flag when his car ended up in the tire barrier in turn five.  But a bigger penalty was that the seven times NASCAR Cup Series champion hurt his right hand during the accident.

Now the question is will he drive with the injury if he is able or will someone take over his ride.  Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the IMSA WeatherTech Championship entry 01 for Ganassi Racing, is a possibility to replace Johnson if he is not cleared to drive by the IndyCar doctors.

Johnson told fans on Twitter that he would have an update this morning on his status.


The last practice is today at 8:45 am PT.   Qualifying is scheduled for 12:05 pm.

Keep coming back to see the latest updates today.


Lucille Dust reporting live from Long Beach

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