Simon Pagenaud led the first practice for the Acura Grand prix of Long Beach this afternoon with a lap 1:07.1991edging Alexander Rossi by 0,402 seconds. Scott McLaughlin, looking to keep his run of front row starts for 2021 intact, was third, just seven hundredths behind Rossi. Pagenaud’s time is less than a second slower than the track record of 1:05.2254.
Drivers were surprised at the grip level.
“We were all surprised by the level of grip we had already,” 2021 series champion Alex Palou said. “On the first timing lap, we were doing 69 (1:09), 68 (1:08). It was really grippy. I don’t know if it’s all the rubber from the tires from the other series or just the heat, but it’s super nice to drive. We’re enjoying every lap.”
The temperature was in the upper 90s for the session, and the temperature tomorrow is expected to be in the low 70s. The speed will probably be there, but we might see different cars up front.
Jimmie Johnson brought out the first of two red flags when he bottomed while crossing a curb on the inside of Turn 5, launching his car nose-first into the tire barrier.
Dalton Kellett spun in his No. 4 K-LINE/AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet with about 15 minutes left in the session in Turn 5 and backed lightly into the tire barrier.
Pato O’Ward clipped the wall and limped back to the pits. He returned late in the session.
The time sheet:
I will have more about the day at Long Beach in my Saturday preview tomorrow morning.