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Trackside Update: Grand Prix of Long Beach

Two races, two wins for Andretti Autosport in IndyCar competition. The Indianapolis-based team comes to Long Beach, California for Round Three of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar and Firestone Indy Lights season.
 
Defending series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay is hoping to see his DHL machine take a trip to the historic Long Beach Victory Lane, which he last visited in 2010. The 11-turn Southern California circuit holds special meaning for Ryan – he and wife Beccy met here in 2004 and this weekend they share their special place with newborn son, Ryden. "It was just great to be on track here," Ryan said after taking P1 in the afternoon session. "Always have loved Long Beach. Love getting back into a rhythm with this racetrack, and unfortunately, Mike (Conway, second fastest today) likes it, too. It's a good time out there. We're always just pushing each other. Unfortunately we didn't get enough work done today on my car that we wanted to heading into qualifying on Saturday. We'll get done in the morning, hopefully, in practice three, and look forward to qualifying."
 
Go Daddy driver James Hinchcliffe is looking forward to actually racing this weekend after his 87-lap siesta in the Barber Motorsports Park infield two weeks ago. Refreshed and ready to drive, he and the Go Daddy green machine recorded the fastest lap time in today's morning practice session. Unfortunately, the limited green flag time during session two left him unable to put together a solid afternoon run. "We had a quick car in practice one, and I think we had a quick car in practice two," said the Hinchtown mayor. "We didn't get to put the laps together because of all the red flags. It's unfortunate, you know, we're not getting as much track time as we'd like. There are things we want to test and things we want to try, and just haven't been able to get to them… it's tough. It makes it difficult for everyone, but it's the same for everyone. We're doing a pretty good job as a team, and hopefully we can do it tomorrow when it counts in qualifying and get the Go Daddy car up front."

Andretti kicked off his weekend in Long Beach with a productive first day of practice as the No. 25 RC Cola team worked hard to find the right setup heading into qualifications. While their best efforts weren’t in vein, multiple red flags throughout the day stifled the window of opportunity to try out as many options as possible. Marco is looking forward to tomorrow's practice run, and feels they are very close to finding the right configuration for qualifying. "The RC Cola car felt pretty good today," said Marco. "There is still a lot of speed out there for us to find, and I am feeling optimistic thinking about our potential heading into tomorrow's practice. Today we tried a lot of different things, but setups are always a tricky thing to figure out."

Right out of the No. 5 pit box, E.J. Viso put down laps fast enough for the top five. However, encountering some brake issues, the 28-year-old brought in his Team Venezuela PDVSA CITGO Chevy to get some work done and did not manage many laps in the morning session. Although E.J. did not have much time in his car during the first practice, it allowed more one-on-one time for a special guest who was seen in the No. 5 pit – Rob Kardashian. A guest and friend of Viso's, the budding entrepreneur enjoyed the sights and sounds of the Grand Prix of Long Beach alongside the Andretti Autosport No. 5 crew.  Unfortunately later on during the afternoon's practice, the session was plagued with red flags – coming to a halt with less than five minutes to go when our favorite Venezuelan was fighting understeer and slid his Chevy into the tires. E.J. was uninjured and also optimistic toward the rest of the weekend. "First testing day was a little bit tough for us," he commented. "There've been plenty of red flags due to accidents, and the mileage has been pretty limited. Anyways, we are still working on the setup – still need to find the right one for us. We are going to have a good sit-down with the guys (tonight) and just analyze our data and make a wise decision for tomorrow."

In Firestone Indy Lights, Carlos Munoz had another dominant day heading into the third race of the season. After turning 21 laps of today's first practice session in Long Beach, Carlos was able to find the necessary speed to finish the day in P1. Carlos looks forward to qualifying tomorrow as he goes for his third consecutive pole position this season.

Zach Veach showed a great deal of excitement as he made his debut in Long Beach this afternoon. While he is still relished the moment of driving on a course rich in history, he was disappointed with the results of his first practice session. Zach still remains optimistic, as he knows that they couldn’t find the speed he needed because he was not able to use a newer set of tires. Zach and the K12 team are looking forward to tomorrow's qualifying session.

You can catch all the action from Long Beach by tuning into NBC Sports Network (Verizon FiOS 90/590, DirecTV 220, DISH 159 and AT&T UVerse 640). Qualifying coverage (taped) will kick off at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday and continue with the airing of Sunday's Firestone Indy Lights race starting at 3 p.m. Live IZOD IndyCar Series action will start at 4 p.m. ET. If you can't make it to the television, listen along with the broadcast by the IMS Radio Network, on SiriusXM (Channel 211) and www.IndyCar.com.

Be sure to follow the official Andretti Autosport Twitter feed (@FollowAndretti) for live twitter coverage and a behind-the-scenes look at race day from the Grand Prix of Long Beach.

 
 

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