Kirkwood leads Andretti 1-2 in second Long Beach practice

Andretti Global’s two previous Long Beach winners Kyle Kirkwood and Colton Herta led second practice for the 49th Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, a session that saw Will Power strike the Turn 8 wall twice.

In the second and final practice session before qualifying, IndyCar competitors were faced with 60 degree F conditions, and exclusively Firestone’s primary compound, unlike FP1 when both the hard and soft rubber can be used. With 26 cars on the 1.968-mile track at the same time, several drivers struggled to find traffic-free laps.

But eight minutes into the session, Josef Newgarden of Team Penske sat atop the times with a 1m07.5764s ahead of Colton Herta of Andretti Autosport. However, Newgarden’s teammate Power, who was second fastest yesterday, made contact with the wall on the exit of Turn 8, bending his left-rear suspension A-arm and having to limp to the pits on 45 degrees of steering lock.

In the meantime, the third Penske of Scott McLaughlin had jumped to the top of the times with a 1m07.2463s, a quarter second ahead of Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward. Fifteen minutes into the 45-minute session, Tom Blomqvist also looked impressive, sitting fifth fastest, despite missing track time yesterday with mechanical difficulties.

Andretti Global-Honda’s defending Long Beach race winner Kirkwood, who also suffered gearbox difficulties for much of Friday’s session, sprung to the top of the times when he became the first driver to crack the 67-second barrier, and then swiftly improved to a 1m06.6279s. His nearest challengers became Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou and Christian Lundgaard of Rahal Letterman Lanigan, until Kirkwood’s teammate Herta shaved 0.0361s off the erstwhile benchmark to hit the top spot. He then lowered his time still further with a 1m06.4886, an average of 106.557mph.

Scott Dixon moved into fifth behind Lundgaard and ahead of the Penskes, while IndyCar debutant and reigning Formula 2 champion Theo Pourchaire made contact exiting Turn 4, scraping his left front and left rear wheels but not hard enough to oblige him to pit.

Romain Grosjean gave Juncos Hollinger Racing-Chevrolet reason to be cheerful by jumping to fourth with 20 minutes to go, just 0.31s behind Herta, in a session where teammate Agustin Canapino explored at least two runoff zones before setting a 1m07.3157s.

With 17 minutes to go, Penske’s No. 12 crew finished repairs on Power’s car and sent him back out, while Alexander Rossi clocked sixth fastest to become top McLaren driver.

Power had just got into sixth spot when he again struck the Turn 8 wall, spun and clipped the opposite wall with his nose cone. He stalled, too, and therefore caused a red flag to enable the AMR Safety Team to bumpstart him. Just before that, his teammate McLaughlin had gone third fastest.

In the final five minutes, despite drivers backing up at the final hairpin, Kirkwood squeezed out fastest time, a 1m06.4731s, while Lundgaard jumped to third ahead of Felix Rosenqvist of Meyer Shank Racing.


Story originally appeared on Racer