Grosjean leads incident-filled Saturday IndyCar practice

Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

Grosjean leads incident-filled Saturday IndyCar practice

IndyCar

Grosjean leads incident-filled Saturday IndyCar practice

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Romain Grosjean topped a manic second NTT IndyCar Series practice session on the streets of Long Beach on Saturday morning, while Jimmie Johnson’s tough start to the weekend snowballed with a second trip into the barriers.

A combination of a busy track and stoppages for minor incidents during the final few minutes left most drivers struggling to put together a complete lap on the softer-compound red tires, but Grosjean managed to find enough space to thread his way between the barriers in 1m05.6520s – a full 0.6s faster than the current qualifying lap record.

“The track is better than yesterday,” he said. “I’m very happy with the session; we made some nice steps. It was tough to get a lap out there, but we managed to get a good one on the blacks; a good one on the reds. Happy with how things went.”

Colton Herta, Will Power, Alexander Rossi and Simon Pagenaud joined Grosjean in the sub-1m06s territory, giving Andretti-aligned entries four spots among the top five. In Herta’s case, the time came after a visit to the pits for a new rear wing after the back of the car stepped out in the middle of Turn 6 and sent him into the tires. That incident, which happened 15 minutes into the session, came just after he’d rattled off a 1m06.8905s on used blacks.

Several others joined Herta in finding the wall during the hour-long session but Johnson’s crash was the most significant, coming just 14 hours after his participation in the rest of the weekend was thrown into doubt when a crash during Friday practice left him with an injured right hand. Driving with a cast, he was quicker to let go of the steering wheel ahead of Saturday morning’s impact and the worst damage seemed to have been to his mood. “I’m fine,” he reported over the radio just after the car came to rest on the outside of Turn 1. “Dammit! Dammit, dammit, dammit.”

Elsewhere, David Malukas and Graham Rahal found the same bit of wall on the outside of the fountain a few minutes apart, each prompting brief interruptions to the session while their cars were retrieved – both with apparently minimal damage. There probably would have been even more red flags were it not for some quick hands from Scott Dixon, who had a huge slide at Turn 4, and later from Will Power.

Kyle Kirkwood shined late in the session and had the No.14 Foyt car running six-fastest with just a few minutes remaining before being shuffled back to 10th-fastest towards the end.

RESULTS

UP NEXT: Qualifying, 12:05 PT

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