Grosjean Leads Practice as Track Record Demolished- Update with Time Sheet

Romain Grosjean led an Andretti/Meyer Shank attack on the track record in morning practice for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

The top six were below the track record.

Andretti Autosport cars took three of the top four spots. Meyer Shank Racing has a technical alliance with Andretti.

I would still not discount pole chances for Will Power or Marcus Ericsson.

The session ran clean for the first 30 minutes. Jimmie Johnson had another wall contact bringing out the red flag. Johnson was3 cleared to drive this morning and is still eligible to qualify.

Graham Rahal brought out a red flag for contact. With six minutes remaining, David Malukas hD contact with the outer wall just past the fountain.

This morning ‘s session was the first instance of Indycar’s new practice policy. The schedule allowed 60 min for the 45 minute practice. The clock stopped on the red flags and drivers had the full 45 minutes of green flag running.

Qualifying will be interesting. I will have qualifying groups up in a bit

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Some Teams Still Looking for Speed

Today’s schedule:

Gates Open 7:45 AM-1:30 PM

8:00AM – 8:45AM Indy Pro 2000 Race 2
9:00AM – 9:45AM NTT INDYCAR SERIES Practice 2 Peacock
10:00AM – 10:45AM Mazda MX-5 Cup Race 2
11:00AM – 12:00PM SRO GT America Race 2
12:30PM – 1:45PM NTT INDYCAR SERIES Qualifying Peacock

2:00 PM-2:30 PM Indy Lights Autograph Session Fan Village

3:00 PM- 4:00 PM Indycar Autograph Session Fan Village

4:00 PM-6:00 PM Party in the Park North Straub Park

8:00 PM Fireworks

On track activity is packed into just five hours today. The Indycar field has just 45 minutes to prepare for qualifying. Andretti Autosport had three drivers in the top 10 Friday while Team Penske and Rahal letterman Lanigan Racing each had two drivers near the top. The team that puzzled me the most was Arrow McLaren SP, who had Felix Rosenqvist 16th and Pato O’Ward 20th.

Chip Ganassi Racing didn’t have any driver higher than 15th place Marcus Ericsson.

The practice round today will be run in cooler conditions than Fridy’s late day session. The temperature at 12:30 when qualifying starts is expected to be 76 degrees and sunny, rising to 78 by the time the Fast Six begins.

Indycsr decided not to alter it’s qualifying format in spite of a larger full time grid and even more cars at some events. We saw a few cars backed up in turn 10 yesterday trying to make a gap, but not a huge line. A qualifying round may look different.

Yesterday’s fastest driver, Romain Grosjean, said about his session,

“I think we’ve got a very, very strong baseline, but I think there’s a little bit more to come if we put it all together. Hopefully we can
find that and have fun for the rest of the weekend.”

Will Power said about qualifying this season,

“It will be very tight qualifying sessions, and it’ll come down to whether you get a clean lap and don’t get held up, if someone doesn’t back
up or you don’t go through a yellow. Yeah, it’s going to be
that sort of year, which is great. I think it’s very good, very fun.”

Today will be a fun day. Practice and qualifying can be seen on Peacock.

Grosjean Leads First Practice

New year, different team, but Romain Grosjean hasn’t missed a beat. The second year driver led the first practice of the season at the Firestone Grand Prix this afternoon. Grosjean’s first run for Andretti Autosport turned a quick lap of 1:01.0525. His teammate, Colton Herta, was second fastest, 0.1042 seconds behind.

Six teams finished in the top 10, including three who switched teams for 2022- Grosjean, Simon Pagenaud, and Jack Harvey. Rookie David Malukas ended the session 10th.

Among the other rookies, Kyle Kirkwood was 12th, Devlin DeFrancesco 13th, Callum Ilott 22nd, Christian Lundgaard 25, and Tataiana Calderon 26th.

Defending series champion Alex Palou ended the day 17th, Marcus Ericsson in 15 was the fastest of the Ganassi drivers.

The session was halted briefly when Jimmie Johnson went into the runoff area in Turn 10 and returned to the track with his brakes on fire.

The results:

Rain Cuts ROP Short; Grosjean and Johnson Have Long Wait to Finish

The on again, off again rain finally cut short Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway around 4 pm this afternoon, leaving Romain Grosjean and Jimmie Johnson short of completing their rookie tests. The drivers, who just completed their first season in Indycar, will have to wait until the open test in April to finish the final laps of phase three of the 40 lap test. The afternoon stoppage was the second one of the day, and there was not enough time to get the track dry for more running.

These photos by Joe Skibinski of Indycar sum up the day. Race cars and dark clouds

Grosjean needs two more laps at 215 mph or better, while Johnson needs about five laps.

Johnson had a bit of an advantage as he remains with his Chip Ganassi Racing team. Grosjean not only had the stress of his first time driving on the IMS oval, but also the concerns of his first day with a new team. It was his first day as a driver for Andretti Autosport.

Romain Grosjean photo by Chris Owens, Indycar

Asked about the stress, Grosjean said,

“I think really the most stressful part was to know what my first lap speed was going to be. You grow up or move from there. I had no idea what to expect to get to 205. Then it went pretty smoothly, enjoyed
it. When you have to go above 215, that’s where the fun starts. ”

Grosjean felt at ease with the support he received

“I got some good explanation, some good tip from the guys, from the engineers also, James Hinchcliffe came in the morning, which I appreciated a lot. Michael was there, as well. When you’ve got those guys, they know what they’re talking about, so that was great to
be with them and to know what to do.”

Jimmie Johnson photo by Chris Owens Indycar

Johnson fuflilled a childhood dream by running the oval in an Indycar.

“… just a special day to drive an INDYCAR at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I have truly, truly enjoyed it. It was a childhood dream come true. The experience is more than expected and something that I really, really enjoyed.”

He said today has heightened his interest in driving in the 500.

“(My interest) Definitely, definitely increased. I think
the look I had at Texas increased it and brought me here.
A little short on laps for what I wanted to experience today.
As comfortable as I felt my interest is at the highest it’s
been, certainly my comfort is at the highest it’s been. All
that said, there’s still a lot of work between now and really
pulling through with this opportunity.”

In an interview just after the day ended, Johnson’s face lit up when he was asked if today made him want to run the 500. While he admitted there is “still a lot of work to do” for him to be able to run in May, he seems determined to make it happen.

It was an exciting day to see two veteran drivers turn their first Indycar laps on an oval. For Grosjean, it was just the second time he had seen open wheel cars on the oval. Johnson, who has won at IMS four times in NASCAR on the oval, I enjoyed watching him run in a different type of car.

The rookie class for the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 could be very deep in talent and numbers. In addition to Grosjean and Johnson, there could be up to four drivers from this year’s Indy Lights Series, plus maybe a current NASCAR driver.

Update from IMS- Rain Delays Rookie Tests

A damp morning pushed back the start of on track activity by 10 minutes this morning. Jimmie Johnson left thepits first Romain Grosjean followed. Both drivers did an installation lap and returned to the pits. Johnson left to begin Phase 1 of his roomie test. Grosjean started out, but the yellow light came on for moisture at the south end of the track.

Johnson had completed five laps with a top speed of 208 mph.

Track drying efforts halted after a soaking rain hit the track.

Track drying has just resumed. More rain may arrive around 3:30.

Here are some photos from this morning.

Johnson, Grosjean Take Next Step in Indycar Careers

Photo: Romain Grosjean set for his new team.

Jimmie Johnson and Romain Grosjean hope to complete Rookie Oientation tests at Indianapolis Motor Speedway today in preparation for their Indianapolis 500 debuts next May.

Jimmie Johnson. Indycar photo by Chris Jones

Johnson did not run any ovals in 2021, while Grosjean ran one, At World Wide Technology Raceway. Grosjean did a great job on his initial oval run.

Today’s activity begins at 10:30 am. ROP was originally scheduled to begin at noon, but was moved up because of a chance of rain this afternoon. The Turn 2 viewing mounds are open. There is no streaming of the tests.

Each car gets three sets of tires for the three phase test.

Phase 1- 10 laps 205-210 mph

Phase 2- 15 laps at 210-215 mph

Phase 3- 15 laps at at 215 + mph.

It will be hard to get used to seeing the 28 car with someone other than Ryan Hunter-Reay in it.

Grosjean, Johnson Take IMS Rookie Tests Wednesday

From Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

Indianapolis Motor Speedway & NTT INDYCAR SERIES
Grosjean, Johnson To Take Indy 500 Rookie Test Wednesday at IMS


Grosjean and Johnson, both series rookies in the 2021 season, will attempt to complete the test that involves a series of laps at three controlled speed phases on the 2.5-mile oval. The Rookie Orientation Program is a prerequisite for participation in the 106th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 29, 2022.
Former Formula One standout Grosjean plans to compete in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in the No. 28 DHL Honda fielded by Andretti Autosport, while seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Johnson is exploring possible participation in the race in the No. 48 Honda fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing.

Note

I understand that fans may view the tests from the turn 2 viewing mounds.

Grosjean, Andretti Confirm Deal; DHL Stays

Photo from Andretti Autosport

It has been one of the worst kept secrets in the paddock. Andretti Autosport made the following announcement today:

INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 24, 2021) — After an impressive rookie season in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, Romain Grosjean has been named to pilot Andretti Autosport’s No. 28 DHL Honda entry for the 2022 season. The Swiss-born French driver will join longtime Andretti partner, DHL, in his second season competing in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Championship.

“We are thrilled to welcome Romain to the Andretti Autosport family,” said Michael Andretti, CEO and Chairman, Andretti Autosport. “He already had an impressive resume before coming to INDYCAR and watching what he’s been able to do in his rookie season here has been exciting to say the least. His vast motorsport experience will be beneficial to the team alongside our already strong 2022 driver lineup. We also couldn’t be more excited to continue our strong partnership with DHL. The DHL sponsorship is one of the longest and most successful in the paddock and we look forward to continued success on and off the track.”

DHL, headquartered in southern Florida, first appeared as a partner with the Andretti Autosport team in 2011 as a co-primary sponsor on the 28-car, growing to be the full primary starting in 2014. During their decorated tenure in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, DHL has been a part of an Indianapolis 500 win, an NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion, 14 wins and 39 podiums.

“We couldn’t be happier to continue our successful partnership with Andretti Autosport, which has provided us with one of our most powerful avenues for connecting people to our global brand,” said Mike Parra, CEO of DHL Express Americas. “The legendary Andretti organization is run by a winning team whose members we have long considered part of our DHL family, and now we are excited to also welcome their newest driver, Romain Grosjean, to our family. We are thrilled to have such a highly regarded international competitor taking the wheel to represent DHL, and we look forward to a fruitful partnership with Romain and the entire Andretti team, both on and off the track.”

Grosjean officially made his move from Formula One, where he spent nine seasons, to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in 2021. The 35-year-old began his racing career at the age of 14 in multiple international karting championships before collecting numerous championship titles and race wins as he ascended Europe’s ultra-competitive open-wheel racing ladder. Before making the switch to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, Grosjean recorded 10 podium-finishes, twice finishing a career-best second, and finished as high as seventh in the Formula One Championship standings. Grosjean has made quite the splash in his first year of American open-wheel racing, recording one pole, three podiums, four top-five finishes, leading over 50 laps and making his oval debut.

“I’m delighted to be joining Andretti Autosport and driving the No. 28 DHL Honda for next season,” said Grosjean. “It’s a big honor to be joining such a great team as Andretti, anyone in the motorsport world knows the name Andretti. I’m super happy and proud to be racing with the team. I’m also very proud to be representing with DHL. I’ve known the DHL color on racing cars for a very long time. I couldn’t be more proud to represent such a great company in INDYCAR. I’m hoping that we are going to be very successful together, which is our aim on every side. I would like also to thank Dale Coyne Racing for giving me the opportunity to join INDYCAR. I’ve enjoyed the racing so much and it’s given me the change today to be racing with one of the most competitive and best teams in the world.”


Grosjean joins already announced drivers Alexander Rossi and Colton Herta in Andretti Autosport’s 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES lineup.

Grosjean Tops Practice 1

Photo of Romain Grosjean by Walt Kuhn Indycar

Romain Grosjean led this afternoon’s Indycar practice at Road America with a lap of 1:47.681, beating Ryan Hunter-Reay and Josef Newgarden. The 45 minute session featured the Indycar debuts of Kevin Magnussen and Cody Ware. Ware ended the practice 22nd and Magnussen was 23rd. Oliver Askew, subbing for Rinus VeeKay, had the ninth fastest time.

Ryan Hunter-Reay led most of the session until Grosjean put down his quick lap on his next to last circuit. Points leader Pato O’Ward had the 11th quickest time today.

As we have seen all season, the top ten was split evenly between Honda and Chevrolet.

A second practice at 10:10 Central tomorrow morning will set the qualifying groups for Firestone Fast Six qualifying at 1:30 Central. A post qualifying session follows at 4:30 Central.

Ryan Hunter_Reay led most of the session
Points leader Pato O’Ward was 11th fastest

New Look

After a long construction delayed journey, I arrived at Road America around 2:30 Central time. I had a pleasant surprise at Gate 3. The gravel road is now paved, and there is a large, nice looking sign identifying the gate. I later noticed Gate 4 had similar improvements. In the past, the gate sign was inconspicuous and easy to pass by if you didn’t know what you were looking for. Signage all around the track is upgraded. The look is much improved.

The track also received a makeover. Turns 5, 6, and 14 have a new coat of asphalt.

Overall, Road America looks a bit nicer this year. The changes haven’t altered the character of the place at all, but they have enhanced it.