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Weather dampens first Long Beach Friday practice

Marco Andretti was top of the times in Friday's rain-hit practice sessions at Long Beach, but cool and wet conditions prevented most drivers from getting up to full speed.
Marco Andretti topped the timesheets on Friday with the best lap in the first practice session on the streets of Long Beach on Friday morning.

His time of 1:17.2298s (91.737mph) on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit was some six seconds off what teams will be expecting to achieve here based on last year's lap times, as conditions were cold and breezy with the track itself still wet at key points and corners at the start of the practice session from earlier rain.

While a dry line emerged by the end of the hour it was nonetheless still treacherous enough to catch out both Takuma Sato (a spin at turn 10) and Simona de Silvestro (a heavier impact into the tyre wall at turn 8) in separate incidents and bring out a red flag six minutes from the end of the planned running time.

Rubens Barrichello put in the most laps in the session (19 in total) as he tried to get to grips with the tricky, technical street course, but several cars opted not to run at all in the morning. Both Dale Coyne Racing cars stayed in the garage having work carried out on them, and all the Ganassi drivers except for Scott Dixon also sat out the session in expectation of warmer, drier conditions on Saturday and Sunday.

Dario Franchitti did venture out in the second hour-long afternoon practice session, but as rain had arrived during the intervening Firestone Indy Lights practice session there was little hope of setting any competitive time.

With the rain increasing during the afternoon, conditions worsened and when Scott Dixon decided to come out for a lap late in the session he promptly aquaplaned into a heavy right side hit into the wall at turn 1. Unsurprisingly no one else came out of pit road after that, leaving the two Ganassi drivers the only ones to brave the afternoon conditions.

"I just aquaplaned out there," he admitted. "I saw a puddle and thought it was really no big deal ... I hit the puddle and couldn't turn."

Meanwhile Lotus Dragon Racing's Katherine Legge and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Oriol Servia were both added to the growing list of cars that will be hit by ten-place grid penalties for unscheduled engine changes, after both cars needed to swap in new Lotus power plants.

With the already announced engine change for Legge's team mate Sébastien Bourdais and the entire 11-car Chevrolet line-up, that brings the total to 14 of the 26 cars now subject to a penalty on Sunday.

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Related Pictures

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Marco Andretti in the #26 Team RC Cola Andretti Autosport Chevrolet during pre-season testing at Sebring. March 2012. [Photo Credit: Michael Levitt - LAT for IndyCar Media]
Scott Dixon spins during practice (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Mikhail Aleshin sits in his machine prior to practice for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Mikhail Aleshin on course during practice for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Mikhail Aleshin crosses the start/finish line during practice for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest.  (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates with his daughter Mikaella after winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest.  (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves in his pit stand following practice for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Will Power in action during practice for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power in action during practice for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud crosses the line at Fontana during practice for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power sits in his pit stand prior to practice for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon streaks across the start/finish line during the Open Test at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon crosses the start/finish line during the Open Test at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon leaves pit lane (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)

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