The NTT IndyCar Series was greeted by cool temperatures and cloudless skies when it launched into the newly named Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend with a 45-minute practice session, led by Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Following the Michelin-shod IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship field with the weekend’s second session, the 23-car IndyCar field was topped initially by rookie Felix Rosenqvist before his Chip Ganassi Racing stablemate Scott Dixon set multiple fastest laps during the uninterrupted session’s duration.
Relegating the Ganassi duo down the timesheet, Ryan Hunter-Reay executed a 1:07.9335 lap on his 13th and final trip around the 1.968-mile temporary city street course, sending his No. 28 DHL Honda to the forefront of the field.
More than 1.7 seconds slower than Helio Castroneves’ lap record from 2017, Hunter-Reay’s quickest trip around Long Beach Friday morning put him 0.1704 seconds clear of Dixon, who remained at the head of the field in second.
Rosenqvist’s early speed did not make him the session’s fastest rookie, with that distinction instead going to Harding Steinbrenner Racing’s Colton Herta who was third fastest in his No. 88 Honda.
Graham Rahal, Alexander Rossi, James Hinchcliffe and Rosenqvist filled the remainder of the top seven positions with cars powered by the Japanese manufacturer before Simon Pagenaud, the top Chevrolet and Team Penske pilot, in eighth. Hinchcliffe in sixth was the last driver within half a second of Hunter-Reay’s pace, with Pagenaud coming within 0.5833 seconds of the leading lap.
Immediately behind Pagenaud, Penske’s Josef Newgarden and Will Power slotted into the final two positions of the top 10, 0.5911 and 0.6436 seconds slower than Hunter-Reay.
Takuma Sato placed 14th in the first outing since his Barber Motorsports Park win while Sebastien Bourdais, having just participated in WeatherTech Championship practice driving a Ford GT, set the 20th-best time.
With the weekend underway, IndyCar will conclude its Friday activity with a second 45-minute practice beginning at 2 p.m. PDT.