LONG BEACH, Calif. — The final quarter of Saturday morning’s practice session at Long Beach turned chaotic with some drivers having difficulty getting around turns 1-3. For Romain Grosjean, he wasn’t one of those who had trouble as he topped the practice charts with a time of 1:05.6520 seconds.
Grosjean noted it was tough getting a lap around the treacherous street course, but was happy with his Andretti Autosport team making progress. He also hopes that as the track conditions get warmer, but much cooler than yesterday, that his No. 28 DHL Honda adapts and fights for pole at 3:05 p.m. ET on Peacock.
“I think it was better than yesterday. Very happy with the morning session. We’ve made some nice steps in the right direction,” said Grosjean after practice.
“It was obviously tough for everybody to get a lap out there. But we managed to get a good one on the blacks and reds. Pretty happy where the car is. Track temps are going to change, so hopefully we’re on top of that but happy with how things went.”
Behind Grosjean was defending race winner Colton Herta, who was 0.0451 seconds off his teammate’s flying time.
“It seems like we’re on the right track,” said Herta. We got a fast car. P2 in the session but I think there’s a little bit more in it. So, we should be good for qualifying.”
While Andretti Autosport continue their much needed positive momentum this weekend, other drivers from different organizations struggled. Among those were again Jimmie Johnson, who was medically cleared to practice.
Johnson was involved in his second accident in as many days after binning it into the turn 1 barrier. Unlike yesterday’s turn 5 crash, he lot go of the steering wheel which caused a fractured right hand. The INDYCAR sophomore was sporting a carbon fiber splint upon strapping in his No. 48 Carvana Honda.
He was able to get out of the car and later got checked and released from the care center. More importantly, Johnson is still cleared to drive.
From there, drivers such as David Malukas, Jack Harvey and Graham Rahal each had wild moments in the fountain area during the closing minutes. All were able to continue on.
Along with Grosjean and Herta, seven other drivers broke the old track record time of 1:06.2254. Those being Will Power, Alexander Rossi, Simon Pagenaud, Marcus Ericsson, Alex Palou, Scott McLaughlin and Scott Dixon.
Just missing the old track record was Kyle Kirkwood, who was 10th fastest and led the rookie class.
Live coverage of qualifying begins at 3:05 p.m. ET on Peacock. Josef Newgarden is the defending pole sitter.