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Power quick at Long Beach, IndyCar mandates more aero fixes: by Keith Jones

2015 IndyCar Long Beach Grand Prix

LONG BEACH, Calif. – Team Penske’s Will Power led the first day of practice for the 41st Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Friday while IndyCar announced further changes to cars’ bodywork for added strength and safety.

Will Power addresses the media at the 2015 IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach

Will Power addresses the media at the 2015 IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach

Power, driving the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, led the 23-driver field with a lap of 1 minute, 7.5485 seconds. Teammate Simon Pagenaud was 0.0370 of a second back in the No. 22 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet. Eighteen drivers were within a second of Power’s quick lap on the 11-turn street circuit.

Graham Rahal, debuting his new Steak ’n Shake sponsorship livery, led the Honda contingent with seventh quickest time, again showing improved form and the strength of this year’s version of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

“We are the fastest Honda but we have a little work to do to catch the Penskes. I was on a lap that was about a tenth (of a second) and a half quicker but I just screwed it up, ate too much curb off in Turn 8 and lost it,” said Rahal. “I feel like there is a lot of potential. But we’re pretty close and if you put Will, Simon and a few others aside, we’re kind of the best of the rest but we’ll keep fighting hard to improve the Steak ‘n Shake car tomorrow. We’re in the hunt.”

Sebastien Bourdais set the track lap record at the 1.968-mile configuration at 1:06.882 in 2006.

IndyCar on Friday announced an update to the Verizon IndyCar Series car aerodynamic bodywork kits, effective for the rest of the season beginning with this weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, issuing the following statement:

• INDYCAR will continue to be proactive in its review of aero kit performance.

• This process will be ongoing as INDYCAR is committed to delivering an entertaining on-track product throughout the Verizon IndyCar Series season.

• The first step in this process began with last week’s mandate of structural upgrades to both Chevrolet’s and Honda’s aero kit components and will continue as the season progresses and opportunities for improvements are identified.

• As a result of the ongoing development of aero kits, INDYCAR has requested the following actions:

-Chevrolet to add a tether to the winglets, or remove the winglets, from its front wing assembly.
-Honda to implement additional reinforcements to its rear wheel guards.

• These upgrades must be implemented prior to Sunday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

The first two races of 2015 saw lots of flying bodywork when cars carrying new series-mandated aero kits made contact during competition. All Chevy cars are running without the “rabbit ears” winglets on the front wings on Friday.

Keith Jones was in Long Beach Friday for Arizona Auto Scene.  Scroll down to check out some of his photos for the day.

Words and photos submitted by Keith Jones.

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