Jimmy Vasser won the Toyota Pro Celebrity race and Will Power won the Izod IndyCar Series pole on a busy day of racing at the Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Paul Tracy used the Grand Prix of Long Beach as the stage to announce his entry into the Indianapolis 500. James Hinchcliffe won the pole for Sunday’s Firestone Indy Lights race.
But first, the Pro Celebrity race.
Vasser was the top pro, followed by Tanner Foust, a Formule Drift and X Games rally car driver. Brian Austin Green from “Beverly Hills 90210” fame was the top celebrity finisher coming in third.
Marty Nothstein was fourth followed by Oscar winner Adrien Brody in fifth.
Will Power won the pole for Sunday’s Izod IndyCar Series race, leading a pack of Team Penske drivers in the top five of the field.
Power has won three straight IndyCar Series poles and won the Grand Prix of Long Beach in 2008, the last Champ Car Series race. He has won five poles in his IndyCar Series career, including last year at Long Beach.
“We certainly have the car figured out, and I’m very happy that the Verizon car is P1 again,” Power said. “We’ve got to get the strategy right this weekend. I know sometimes it’s really hard to read, but we need to keep executing in races.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay, a driver from Andretti Autosport, will start alongside Power on the front in the IndyCar Series race.
Justin Wilson, a driver for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, will start third next to Helio Castroneves from Team Penske. Ryan Briscoe, who also drives for Team Penske, will start fifth.
“I knew coming into Long Beach that I had to step it up in qualifying, and I think we really did that today,” Briscoe said. “Will got through without using an extra set of reds and had a sticker set at the end, which gave him a big advantage. But we’re right there, and we’ve got ourselves into good position to win the race on Sunday.”
Vasser went from winning the Pro Celebrity race to joining Tracy in announcing his entry in the Indy 500. Tracy will be driving a car for KV Technology Racing, owned in part by Vasser. If Tracy qualifies for the race, it will be his seventh time in the 500. He was the runner-up in 2002 to winner Helio Castroneves and finished ninth in last year’s Indy 500.
“I want to thank (co-owners) Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser of KVRT and GEICO for the opportunity to return to the world’s biggest auto race,” Tracy said. “I have won races and championships at the top level during my racing career, but what I’m missing is a win at Indy. I feel I have some unfinished business at the Brickyard and, with the support of GEICO and an outstanding team like KV Racing Technology, I feel good about our chances at this year’s 500.”
Hinchcliffe won the pole for the Indy Lights race. It was his second pole of the season and the second of his Indy Lights career. He edged out J.K. Vernay, winner of the first two races of the Indy Lights season.
Vernay actually posted the fastest lap in qualifying, but had it taken away when a caution flag came out before he completed his lap.
“He came through and set that time. I saw it, but at the same time I knew there was a yellow flag on the track and he had to drive straight through it,” said Hinchcliffe, a driver for Team Moore Racing. “He did exactly what anybody would have done and kept his foot on it. The rules are the rules and you can’t set your fastest lap when there’s a yellow flag on track.”
And finally, the team of Simon Pagenaud and David Brabham won the American Le Mans Series race in a LMP ARX-01c for Honda Performance Development.
Gunnar Jeanette and Elton Julian won the LMPC portion of the race in an Oreca FLM09.
Patrick Long and Joerg Bergmeister won the GT portion of the American Le Mans Series race in a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.