IndyCar – Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Recap

By: Kevin Neeley

Will Freakin Power. What does it take to keep him in the back of the grid? Not even a ten grid spot penalty for the mass unauthorized engine change for all Chevrolet teams could keep the Terror from Toowoomba down. For the second race in a row, Power overcomes qualifying woes to take the win. This time, it just happened to be on the Streets of Long Beach. The Top Ten was an interesting mishmash of names, but the real thrill was right at the front for the last sixteen laps.

With sixteen laps to go, Simon Pagenaud of Schmidt-Hamilton Racing pitted his #77 HP Honda from the lead, returning to the track in third place, behind Takuma Sato and Will Power. Pagenaud returned to the track sixteen seconds behind Power, who was under fuel restrictions per strategist Tim Cindric. Pagenaud shaved roughly one second per lap off Power’s time over the last sixteen laps, finishing right on Power’s tail coming across the finish line.

Takuma Sato would have finished in third for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing had he not had unfortunate contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay on the final lap. Sato was in fuel conservation mode ahead of Hunter-Reay, but the two came together on the back side of the track, sending Sato into the tire barrier. After a review by officials, it was deemed that Ryan Hunter-Reay could have avoided contact, and was issued a thirty second penalty, moving him from Third to Sixth.

Another last lap incident saw Helio Castroneves get tangled with Justin Wilson, James Jakes and Sebastien Bourdais. Castroneves attempted the divebomb on Wilson going into the hairpin. Wilson didn’t see him, and the two connected coming out of the apex of the turn. Castroneves pushed Wilson to the outside of the track, collecting Jakes, who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Bourdais caught the tail end of the incident, stopping just before hitting Castroneves, but losing power. As Will Power completed his cooldown lap, he came to the blocked track at the hairpin, shut the car off, and began his celebration right there in front of the grandstand. Castroneves was later issued a thirty second penalty for avoidable contact, moving him from 10th to 13th.

Incident of the day goes to the Lap 22 incident involving Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal. Rahal was leading Andretti going into Turn 8 when the two connected, sending Andretti’s Chevrolet Dallara into a Top Gun-ish flatspin into the Turn 8 tire barrier. As Andretti pulled to the inside of Rahal going into Turn 8, he made a bit of a bobble, causing “Tire on Kardashian(the big rear end bumpers of the DW12)” contact. This made Andretti’s car catch some air from ramping off the back of Rahal, thus destroying the rear wing of Graham’s #38 Service Central Honda, ending his day. An obviously stunned Marco Andretti climbed out of his car, his day also done.

Your Top Ten were winner Will Power followed by Simon Pagenaud finishing a career high 2nd in an IICS race. James Hinchcliffe earned his best career finish as well, coming home in third after Hunter-Reay’s thirty second penalty for avoidable contact with Sato. Tony Kanaan finished in a season best 4th place, while J.R. Hildebrand rounded out the Top Five in his #4 National Guard Chevrolet. Ryan Hunter-Reay brought home 6th place followed by top qualifier(but not polesitter) Ryan Briscoe. Takuma Sato captured a Top Ten for RLLR finishing 8th with a hard charging Rubens Barrichello behind him in 9th place. Justin Wilson rounded out the Top Ten, gaining the spot due to the thirty second Avoidable Contact penalty given to Helio Castroneves.

Lap by Lap Highlights

Race Start Conditions: Ambient air temperature of 62 degrees. Humidity 61%. track Temp 100 degrees.

Lap 1: Josef Newgarden in the #67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda attempts to go around polesitter Dario Franchitti on the outside. Newgarden turns in just a bit too much into Turn 1 and makes contact with Franchitti. Newgarden is sent into the tire barrier, ending his day.

Lap 4: Franchitti doesn’t get back up to speed on the restart, getting passed by Justin Wilson going into Turn One. Franchitti drops all the way back to 6th.

Lap 19: Local yellow issued for Sebastien Bourdais making contact with the tire barrier in Turn 9. The car was stopped in a bad spot, so one lap later, full course yellow was issued.

Lap 20: Wilson pits from the lead, handing over 1st place to Takuma Sato.

Lap 22: This is the official Festival of Carbon Fiber Lap. Full course yellow is issued when Marco Andretti makes contact with Graham Rahal going into Turn 8, launching Marco over Rahal’s car and into the Turn 8 tire barrier. Katherine Legge makes contact with the tire barrier in Turn 9.

Lap 27: Restart is waved off when Scott Dixon’s #9 Target Honda stalls on course. Sato pits from the lead, handing 1st place to Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Lap 29: Hunter-Reay pits, giving the lead to Ryan Briscoe.

Lap 34: Ruan Briscoe stops along with Castroneves and Franchitti. The Target Chip Ganassi Racing crew replaces Franchitti’s front wing, damaged on Lap 30 in contact with Briscoe. Simon Pagenaud takes over the lead.

Lap 48: Pagenaud pits from 1st place, handing the lead back to Sato.

Lap 56: Sato pits, surrendering the lead to Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Lap 57: Hunter-Reay pits along with Hinchcliffe, giving the lead back to Simon Pagenaud.

Lap 70: Pagenaud come in for tires and fuel. New leader is Will Power.

Lap 80: Pgenaud passes Sato for 2nd place. Power leads Pagenaud by 5.883 seconds

Lap 85: Sato spins into Turn 6 tire barrier after contact with Hunter-Reay. Hunter-Reay issued 30 second penalty. Will Power wins race by a margin of .8675 seconds.

Points1.Will Power-127
2.Helio Castroneves-103
3.Simon Pagenaud-100
4.Scott Dixon-96
5.James Hinchcliffe-95

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4 Thoughts to “IndyCar – Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Recap

  1. @BrianMcKayUSA

    Thanks for the recap, Kevin.
    I wished while watching that I knew how Wilson went from first to eighth. Then I saw that he pitted from seventh. Helio foolishly nerfed him when he was about eleventh (after a pit stop that I didn’t expect). “We should have had a podium finish today, maybe even a win,” said Wilson. I’m guessing that his tires ‘went away’ from pushing hard, and he drifted backward. And I’m guessing that he stopped three times rather than the two that I expected.
    I certainly expected a Honda-propelled racer to win (Wilson or Pagenaud [Conway is handicapped by teammate’s slop pit service]).
    I think many of us expected Power, who was so fast to have to make a splash-and-dash (Team Penske splitting strategies). Oops. Chevy & Penske spanked Honda.
    Andretti & Penske guys were fast, Pagenaud (ALMS winner here) & Wilson were fast.
    Newgarden, Hunter-Reay, and Castroneves were boneheads.
    Do not know what was awry with Target cars. Is Franchitti ‘lost’ on setting up his DW12?

  2. I wonder if Dario was having such trouble with the DW12, that he thought obviously the problem was the left foot braking. I wonder if he was shocked when they installed the right foot kit that it didn’t fix his problems.

    great write up Kevin.

  3. oregonwings

    Great write up. What struck me was how much of an obvious horsepower advantage the Chevys had over the Hondas, and yet still achieved amazing fuel economy. Will Power after his last pit stop was flying through the field and wasn’t told to conserve until 10 laps left. Then with two laps left was told that he didn’t have to conserve as much anymore. Amazed that he didn’t splash and dash or simply run out. Another good race for the season, and Honda has some work to do. Maybe they should try Twin turbo instead of the singular bigger one?

    1. @BrianMcKayUSA

      Yeah, that was amazing. Watched Hinch’s car bump Simona’s at hairpin turn, then he easily motored away. Felt sorry for her being saddled with a sLotus in a one-driver team.
      BTW, INDYCAR wouldn’t let Honda-powered teams switch to a different (previously-approved) turbocharger. Those that had installed the ‘option’ turbochargers had to pull them b4 GPLB.
      Dario and Scott were suckin’ wind this weekend, but Schmidt-Hamilton’s little one-car team dd well with a single-turbo Honda and three pit stops!

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