Montoya leads first Long Beach practice, but Daly happiest

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LONG BEACH, Calif. – Juan Pablo Montoya may have led the opening practice today for the 42nd annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, but Conor Daly was likely the happiest driver in the session.

Montoya, in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, paced the 21-car field with a lap of 1 minute, 8.1290 seconds (103.991 mph) on the 1.968-mile temporary street course, followed by teammate Will Power in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevy (1:08.3714, 103.622 mph).

CLICK HERE: Practice 1 results

A year ago, Daly competed in his first Verizon IndyCar Series street race in a substitute role at Long Beach for Dale Coyne Racing. When Coyne driver Rocky Moran Jr. sustained a thumb injury in a first-day practice crash, team owner Dale Coyne called on Daly to fill in -- literally. Daly was having breakfast on Saturday morning of race weekend when the phone call came for him to head immediately to the Coyne transporter to replace Moran. 

With just one practice session under his belt, Daly qualified 21st. He finished the race in 17th place, posting the second-fastest lap by a Honda-powered car. That performance led to Daly securing a full-season ride with the Coyne team for 2016. Daly is driving the No. 18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Honda and was elated to be competing in all sessions this weekend. 

“I’m very excited for the race,” said Daly. “I love the place. I love the track. I love the fact we were quick at the end of the race last year, so we have a good place to start and it’s with the same team, so it will be really cool.”

Daly finished today's first practice session with the 17th-fastest lap of 1:09.3633 (102.140 mph).

For one of the fellow Verizon IndyCar Series rookies, however, the first session did not go as planned. Andretti Herta Autosport pilot Alexander Rossi found the Turn 8 tire barrier, bringing out a red flag on the course. The incident with Rossi’s No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda caused a 15-minute delay as the Holmatro Safety Team removed his car from the barrier and worked to reset a section of tires that had been moved in the accident. Rossi was cleared to continue driving this weekend.

Practice 2 for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach commences at 5 p.m. ET today for another 45-minute session. A live stream is available at RaceControl.IndyCar.com.

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