Wilson Leads First Day

LONG BEACH, Calif. - Justin Wilson led the initial qualifying session for the 34th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, guaranteeing himself a front row starting position for Sunday's race. Wilson lapped the 11-turn, 1.97-mile street circuit in 1 minute, 7.356 seconds, 105.184 mph. A second qualifying session to finalize the starting grid is scheduled for Saturday.

Wilson's fast lap in the No. 02 McDonald's Racing Team Panoz bettered the 2007 pole speed of Champ Car World Series champion Sebastien Bourdais by 0.190 of a second.

"We felt that the car was good, and I was very pleased with how it was handling," Wilson said. "We went out and did quite a quick time on the Black tires that still would have been good enough for pole, but we weren't sure what everyone else was doing down the pit lane. We didn't get a good pit selection so we couldn't see, so we decided let's go and see what they're like. We tried the Bridgestone Red tires and they worked great.

"I'm just very pleased to keep up the tradition of the McDonald's car being quickest. Before the qualifying I thought it's a bit of pressure taking over this seat at a track like this where Sebastien (Bourdais) has always gone so well. I'm actually quite relieved to have done as well as we have today, and I think we can relax tomorrow and work and get even quicker."

KV Racing Technology driver Oriol Servia was second with a best lap of 1:07.858, 104.406 mph. Walker Racing's Alex Tagliani was third, Pacific Coast Motorsports driver Mario Dominguez was fourth and Wilson's Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing teammate Graham Rahal was fifth.

The 19-year-old Rahal is coming off a victory two weeks ago on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., where he became the youngest winner of a major open-wheel race.

Twenty cars are entered in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

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Auto Club 500

@ Auto Club Speedway
Saturday, October 19, 2013
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