IndyCar Long Beach Live Thread

Who Will Be King of the Beach? [IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach Live Thread]

4/15/12 in IndyCar   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Today marks the Blog Photo - IndyCar Long Beach Live Thread38th running of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the most venerable street race in North America. This might also qualify as the most bizarre race weekend in Long Beach history. It started on Friday when driving rains essentially shut down practice before it began. Not that it stopped Scott Dixon from going out for one lap and hydroplaning into the wall. While these cars have rain tires, to use an old expression, they don't have lake tires. Standing water equals no-go, even on the road and street circuits.

Saturday came qualifying, and while Ryan Briscoe is the official pole winner, Dario Franchitti will start in the first position. Why is that? Well, it all started last weekend at a test at Sonoma. Chevy driver James Hinchcliffe blew an engine. Pursuant to the new rules, changing an engine before it hits 1850 miles (in a non-race situation) is considered unapproved and results in a 10 spot grid penalty. All week there's been debate in IndyCar fandom on whether its fair to punish a team for a mishap during testing. A few days ago though, Chevy announced that they had found an issue with their engines, and thus changed engines in all 11 of their cars. Thus, every Chevy team is serving the same penalty. Since Dario was the only Honda to make the Firestone Fast Six, he starts first, while erstwhile pole sitter Briscoe will start 11th.

The result of the penalties is an atypical starting grid (if it ever comes out officially). We do now Dario will start first, and joining him on the front row is rookie Josef Newgarden. Newgarden has been very impressive so far in his young career, and is quickly gaining fans for him and his underdog team Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing. He has a great sense of humor too. Now if he can only get some sponsorship.

Starting in the 2nd row (we think) are two guys that will be dangerous: Justin Wilson and Simon Pagenaud. Defending race winner Mike Conway is believed to be starting 7th. Meanwhile, the top three Chevys are in positions 11-13: Briscoe, Will Power, and Ryan Hunter-Reay. Qualifying showed that the Chevys are stronger than the Hondas right now, and the story of the race will be if the fastest cars can pick their way through the field. We saw Power do it at Barber, coming from staring 9th to win, so it can be done. We'll see if it can happen on this tight street circuit.

It's hard to make a prediction given how strange this weekend has gone, but I'll pick Dario all the same. No matter how you get it, starting first on a street race is huge. This could be the week Dario's championship defense finally takes root.

Coverage starts today at 3:00 Eastern on NBC Sports Network with INDYCAR 36, profiling Graham Rahal. Pre-race starts at 3:30, with green flag at 4:15. Timing and scoring can be found here, and More Front Wing's indispensable Event Summary here. Q it up here throughout the race.
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4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

So two nights ago I got a new follower on Twitter based on some CPA Exam tweets. I immediately thought "this won't last through Sunday once I start tweeting the IndyCar race." Guess what? It didn't.

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Unofficial (and I stress unofficial) Results:

1. Will Power
2. Simon Pagenaud
3. James Hinchcliffe (first career podium)
4. Tony Kanaan
5. JR Hildebrand
6. Ryan Hunter-Reay (assessed 30 second penalty on final lap due to avoidable contact)
7. Ryan Briscoe
8. Takuma Sato -1 lap
9. Rubens Barrichello -1 lap
10. Justin Wilson -1 lap
11. James Jakes -1 lap (as impressive as he's been in his IndyCar career)
12. EJ Viso -1 lap
13. Helio Castroneves -1 lap (assessed 30 second penalty on final lap due to avoidable contact)
14. Ed Carpenter -2 laps
15. Dario Franchitti -3 laps (ouch)
16. Oriol Servia -3 laps (top Lotus, they really looked bad today)
17. Sebastien Bourdais -3 laps
18. Charlie Kimball -5 laps (late problem ruined a great day for him)
19. Katherine Legge -5 laps
20. Simona de Silvestro DNF (Mechanical) (something went wrong late for her)
21. Alex Tagliani DNF (Mechanical)
22. Mike Conway DNF (Mechanical)
23. Scott Dixon DNF (Mechanical)
24. Graham Rahal DNF (Contact)
25. Marco Andretti DNF (Contact)
26. Josef Newgarden DNF (Contact)

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

(Edited by Eric_)

So, here's what happened on that last lap:

  • Pagenaud drove like a madman to catch up, but couldn't get around Will in time. Lapped traffic the last lap (including the infamous Viso) didn't help. Great drive by both guys.
  • Sato was punted by RHR. It denied Sato a podium finish. Hunter-Reay crossed the line 3rd, but was given a 30 second penalty. Hinchcliffe inherits the final podium spot.
  • There was a wreck in the hairpin on the final between Helio, Rubens, and Wilson (I think) that blocked the track.
  • Results seem to still be compiled after the last incident, but it looks like despite their advantage, just 3 Hondas were in the top 10. That's terrible.
  • It was just reported by Jenna Fryer that Helio has also been given a 30 second penalty.

4/15/12   |   Debi_L   |   11846 respect

Nope, Hinchcliffe gets the podium!!!! WOW!

4/15/12   |   Debi_L   |   11846 respect

So with the 30 second penalty for RHR will he still get third?

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

If you can fully decipher what happened at the end, you're better than me. Results coming once I decompress.

4/15/12   |   Debi_L   |   11846 respect

Well, Will Power has shown that he doesn't need to start from the pole to win an IndyCar road race.

4/15/12   |   Debi_L   |   11846 respect

Sato around!!!!! OH NO!

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

2 to go. Can Simon get there?

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Pagenaud into 2nd. He can catch Will. Here we go...

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Pagenaud is flying. This isn't over.

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Pagenaud pits, ceding the lead to Power. Question now is can Will make it on fuel?

Barrichello meanwhile is now in 3rd.

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Pagenaud, meanwhile, is the leader. He has to pit again, so he's trying the Will Power/Baltimore strategy of going as fast as possible to get a big gap, so that he might just get out ahead of Power.

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Power by Sato, but does Power have enough fuel without a caution?

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Debi_L wrote:
The others have identifiers at least - that is weird that she doesn't

HVM isn't exactly known for well, competence, especially since their former PR director (Monica Hilton, who created the legend that is Porkchop) left for Bryan Herta Autosport.

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Sato pits and gets out ahead of Power. That's the battle for the win more than likely.

4/15/12   |   Debi_L   |   11846 respect

Eric_ wrote:
Someone is tweeting from Simona's account today (without identifying themselves). It's funny because it's more tweeting than Simona usually does.

The others have identifiers at least - that is weird that she doesn't

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Power pits with 31 laps to go. According to Jon (sorry Debi, I like Professor B), he can just barely make it to the end on fuel, but he can't exactly floor it.

Sato is P1 and will definitely only need one more stop. He's definitely looking good right now.

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Power to P2. Here he comes.

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Someone is tweeting from Simona's account today (without identifying themselves). It's funny because it's more tweeting than Simona usually does.

4/15/12   |   Debi_L   |   11846 respect

Loving where TK is sitting....just needs to move up ONE spot wink

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

I'll admit I'm not sure all the strategies right now, but those smarter than me are saying Sato is in the catbird seat.

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Dario has not distinguished himself today.

4/15/12   |   Debi_L   |   11846 respect

How am I not surprised at Marco's comments?

Graham Rahal, however =  class act, unlike his father

4/15/12   |   Debi_L   |   11846 respect

Marco would have been 10 foot in the air if it wasn't for the rear bumpers.    

'm with him ^^^^^

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

The International Superstar, Shane Rogers, just tweeted this:

Marco would have been 10 foot in the air if it wasn't for the rear bumpers.

I hope he's right, but seeing that happen on the relatively slow speeds of a street circuit isn't good.

4/15/12   |   Debi_L   |   11846 respect

Love Jenna Fryer's tweet:

2 drivers with famous last names had contact

that would be Graham Rahal and Marco Andretti.  Hate it for Katherine Legge tho

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Marco just launched over Graham. Everyone's OK, but the new rear covers just failed miserably. That's very disconcerting.

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Sato by Dario now for 3rd, even though Sato is on blacks. Not sure if the incident on the first lap is causing problems, but Dario's been an anchor. Now Dixon takes 4th from his teammate.

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Pagenaud around Dario for 2nd. Wilson for the time being has checked out. RHR is top Chevy right now in 8th.

4/15/12   |   Debi_L   |   11846 respect

Eric_ wrote:
Great restart, Wilson takes the lead!

Justin has really stretched that lead out

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Debi_L wrote:
Jenna just tweeted that he mentioned he was going to try something early, when Dario wouldn't expect it.

I loved the idea of it. That kid has some great racing instincts. This will be a learning experience, and from replays it really doesn't look like he did anything wrong. Just a racing incident.

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Great restart, Wilson takes the lead!

4/15/12   |   Debi_L   |   11846 respect

Eric_ wrote:
Newgarden got a little too aggressive at the start, and ended up in the tires trying to get the lead from Dario. Bad time for him to make a rookie mistake.

Jenna just tweeted that he mentioned he was going to try something early, when Dario wouldn't expect it.

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

(Edited by Eric_)

Of course, from the replay, it looks like there was contact between Dario and Josef.

Edit: Race Control looked at things and decided no penalty. Looks like the right call.

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Newgarden got a little too aggressive at the start, and ended up in the tires trying to get the lead from Dario. Bad time for him to make a rookie mistake.

4/15/12   |   Debi_L   |   11846 respect

Beekhuis.  

And dammit!!!! (Newgarden)

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Debi_L wrote:
I'd forgotten how awful this announcer was *facepalm*

Who? Bob Jenkins? Dallenbach? Beekhuis? Or do you have different announcers?

4/15/12   |   Debi_L   |   11846 respect

I'd forgotten how awful this announcer was *facepalm*

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

The Grid Walk remains the best piece of unintentional comedy out there. At Barber, they sent Robin out during the invocation. This time, they send him out during driver introductions, so there's no drivers to interview.

4/15/12   |   Debi_L   |   11846 respect

Eric_ wrote:
I guess that's going to be the fan excuse if the ratings suck, which is bad, because there are some in IndyCar land that really need to get out of denial.

I have to admit I am flipping back and forth......

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Debi_L wrote:
Glad to see this!! As Jenna Fryer just tweeted, NBC has next to no coverage about the race.  It's all about hockey for them.

I guess that's going to be the fan excuse if the ratings suck, which is bad, because there are some in IndyCar land that really need to get out of denial.

4/15/12   |   Debi_L   |   11846 respect

Glad to see this!! As Jenna Fryer just tweeted, NBC has next to no coverage about the race.  It's all about hockey for them.

4/15/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

We finally have a starting grid. I've asterisked all the drivers that are serving penalties.

Row 1: Franchitti, Newgarden
Row 2: Wilson, Pagenaud
Row 3: Dixon, Sato
Row 4: Conway, Rahal
Row 5: Kimball, Tagliani
Row 6: Briscoe*, Power*
Row 7: Hunter-Reay*, Jakes
Row 8: Viso*, Hinchcliffe*
Row 9: de Silvestro, Castroneves*
Row 10: Kanaan*, Hildebrand*
Row 11: Andretti*, Barrichello*
Row 12: Servia*, Carpenter*
Row 13: Bourdais*, Legge*

The Lotus cars driven by Servia, Bourdais, and Legge are also serving engine change penalties.