A few news and notes from IndyCar and some of this weekend's support races after Saturday at Long Beach are below.
HITTING THE CURBS/RUMBLE STRIPS – What do James Hinchcliffe, Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan (LEFT) have in common? They all hit the rumble strips in IndyCar's morning practice, with the end result there was contact with the Turn 5 wall. Kanaan's was worst of the three, where he caught air and then crashed into the barriers harder than the other two.
“You can't hit it the same as last year with these cars,” Hinchcliffe said. “Something's different with the cars because the corner's the same.”
Assuming the drivers can't hit it at the same rate as last year, that corner onto the second straight on track may prove a trouble spot in the race.
CHANGING LIGHTS – Sebastian Saavedra scored the pole for Sunday's Firestone Indy Lights race. The field has 15 cars, including two new drivers (Alex Jones, RIGHT, and Nick Andries) with Juncos Racing and Younessi Racing not present this weekend. Both teams are focusing on the next round, the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis, and the Younessi squad appears likely to have a driver change for the race from owner/driver Rodin Younessi to a prior series veteran. The team withdrew from Barber and did not make the trip to Long Beach as it makes organizational and structural changes.
PRO/CELEB RACE RECAP – Adam Carolla, in his third attempt at the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, took his first win in one of the weekend's most fun events.
Comedian and radio personality Carolla fought off a number of charges, the last from Hill Harper, to secure the victory.
“The toughest for me was laps 5 and 6, when I saw I had eight to 10 car lengths ahead of second,” Carolla said. “At that point, I was thinking, ‘All right, just drive your line with five laps left.' Then there was a local yellow and everyone caught me up, and I (expletive) my pants again!”
Carolla and IndyCar team owner Michael Andretti were both on Donald Trump's The Celebrity Apprentice this season, and subsequently fired on the same episode. Carolla joked being in the showroom trumped being in the boardroom, with that pun completely intended.
Harper, who climbed from 12th on the grid to second at the flag, drew inspiration from his friend Lewis Hamilton, who also has a mountain to climb this weekend with a five-spot grid penalty in the Chinese Grand Prix.
“He texted me before the race, after practice,” Harper said. “He'd had the same problem. He told me we'd both have to move up.”
Move up he did, and he came to second after an early accident between Brody Jenner and Eddie Cibrian. Harper's progress caught Carolla off guard.
“With no disrespect to him, the first thing I thought when I saw Hill in my mirrors was, ‘Did I lap him?'” Carolla joked.
Biff Gordon finished third, ahead of top Pro runner Frederic Aasbo and Top Gear USA and NASCAR TV personality Rutledge Wood.