Qualifying Report: Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach
LONG BEACH, Calif. (Sept. 25, 2021) – Qualifying for the final race of the 2021 NTT INDYCAR Series is in the books. AJ Foyt Racing fielded three cars for this event, welcoming back Charlie Kimball in the No. 11 Tresiba Chevrolet.
Kimball, who hadn’t been in a car since May, or on a street course since a year ago in St. Petersburg where he registered his 2020 season best finish of eighth, qualified the fastest of the Foyt contingent and will start 20th. He posted a time of 1 minute, 9.67 seconds around the 1.968 mile street course.
Charlie Kimball appears ready to get back into action. (INDYCAR Photo)
“Well, I don’t know about the qualifying result but I’m still grinning from being back in and Indy car,” Kimball said afterwards. “It’s been so much fun this weekend. First and foremost, most of the credit goes to the AJ Foyt Racing crew. The No. 11 crew guys have made sure the car ran flawlessly both practices through qualifying. Qualifying we missed it a little bit on the grip and the result wasn’t great, it wasn’t what we wanted as a team, but we know there’s some left on the table for the race tomorrow.”
Starting 22nd will be three-time Long Beach Grand Prix winner Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet. Bourdais rubbed a barrier in the morning practice which bent a rear lower wishbone. The team couldn’t repair it before the session ended (less than 10 minutes left). He didn’t get to run the alternate compound (red) Firestone tires before qualifying which would have been useful. In qualifying, the brakes locked up going into Turn 1 on the “money lap” so the warmup lap ended up being his best time which was 1 minute, 9.70 seconds.
“Pretty disappointing qualifying for the ROKiT Chevrolet No. 14,” Bourdais commented afterwards. “Kind of paying the price for my mistake this morning. Made the change that seemed to be a good thing for our teammates, but it ended up causing another issue. Bounced off the rear third (spring) going into Turn 1 and locked everything up—rear and front [brakes]. Unfortunately, that was on what had to be the fastest lap. It’s just a real shame, now we’ll be starting well out of position. Not sure what we can do, but we’ll dig as hard as we can and see what we can do tomorrow.
A.J. Foyt explains something to Jonathan "JK" Kendrick, co-founder and chairman of the ROKiT Group of Companies.
Dalton Kellett got his first look at the course on Thursday during the track walk as he didn’t race here last year due to event being cancelled. He will start 26th after posting a time of 1 minute, 9.76 seconds in the No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet.
“Overall, a tough qualifying session for us, obviously not where we want to be starting with our team cars towards the back,” the recently engaged Canadian said. “The field’s very tight, very competitive and a couple tenths [of a second] puts you in the mix. From our end, we’ve been fighting some oversteer most of the weekend. Our street course car we typically have a better front end versus the road course so trying to get the rears to work a bit better and allow me to come off the brakes and really roll speed through the middle of the corner. Just happy from practice to tighten up the gap to Seb and Charlie, so that’s a gain for the 4 team. We’ll try some stuff out for tomorrow. We have three cars so we can really evaluate different packages for the race and see what we all hone in on and what we think is going to work best for tomorrow.”
Josef Newgarden won the pole with a time of 1 minute, 8.22 seconds. Rounding out the Firestone Fast Six were: Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud, Felix Rosenqvist and Romain Grosjean. Teams will have a 30 minute final warmup tomorrow morning.
The 85-lap Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach will be broadcast live on NBCSN Sunday afternoon starting at 3 p.m. ET.