Scott Dixon negotiates the hairpin turn in morning warmup - Anne Proffit photoEnlarge Photo
Unlike most races, there are quite a few drivers and teams that have opted to begin on the black, primary tire rather than the softer, short-wear alternate red Firestone Firehawk.
Everyone must use new alternates for at least two green flag laps during every INDYCAR race.
The first five drivers (all using Honda engines) in this 85-lap race around the 1.968-mile, 11-turn Long Beach street circuit are using the alternate, red Firestone: polesitter Dario Franchitti, Josef Newgarden, Justin Wilson, Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon, while Honda driver Takuma Sato, who went off this morning during warmup starts sixth on the primary Firehawk tire. The balance of the top 10 will use the alternate Firestone: 2011 winner Mike Conway, Graham Rahal, Charlie Kimball and Lotus driver Alex Tagliani.
Behind this group comes the Chevy corps, with pole winner Ryan Briscoe, Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay all choosing the primary, while Honda driver James Jakes in 14th runs the alternate Firestone. Chevy drivers EJ Viso and James Hinchcliffe will start on the primary, as will Lotus' Simona de Silvestro, Chevy drivers Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan, with Chevy's JR Hildebrand on alternates, completing the first 20 grid spots.
Of the final six drivers all but one is using primary Firestones, with last-starting Katherine Legge looking to move up on alternate Firehawks. They are Chevy's Marco Andretti (who qualified on the primary), Rubens Barrichello, Oriol Servia (Lotus), Chevy's Ed Carpenter and Lotus driver Sebastien Bourdais.
While there have been no further discussions in the paddock about a turbocharger change made by Honda this weekend, we did find out the A/R referred to in the rules designates "the area of the turbine inlet over the distance from the shaft which is the radius of the curve of the passage at that point," according to INDYCAR's director of engine development Trevor Knowles.
"The manufacturers have a choice so they can pick small ones for road courses and large ones for ovals or circuits where top-end power may be better than low-end torque," he told me.
In morning warmup, there were several drivers jumping curbs at the fifth turn and ending up in the tire wall. Hunter-Reay was quickest, followed by Dixon, Barrichello, Power, Viso, Briscoe, Kanaan, Jakes, Kimball and Pagenaud completing the top 10. Franchitti ended the session with his T5 off and his Target team is completing repairs in time for the race.
The weather is--as it normally is for race day--beautiful today in Long Beach, with clear skies and moderate temperatures, which should be just right for the expected 1:17PM green flag start.