No clear favorites at Long Beach When the checkered flag fell on the IndyCar Series’ season-opening race at St. Petersburg, Fla., April 5, the top 10 finishers came from nine teams. Picking a favorite to win the series’ first visit to Long Beach, Calif., is no easy task.
“I think it just proves the competitiveness of this championship,” said Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe, the winner at St. Petersburg and points leader heading into Long Beach. “You don't have to be with the biggest team or the team with the most experience to win races (in the IndyCar Series).”
The 11-turn, 1.968-mile temporary street circuit is no stranger to the drivers and teams of the IndyCar Series. Twelve drivers and eight teams have participated at the circuit previously.
“I raced there in the ALMS a couple years ago,” Briscoe said. “It's a fun track. It's very challenging; it's fast. It's probably somewhere in between Surfers Paradise and St. Petersburg. You've got that crown in the road. It's got some fast corners, long straight down the front. It's going to be tough.”
Drivers who have competed at Long Beach previously are: Scott Dixon (2 starts), Robert Doornbos (1), Dario Franchitti (6), Ryan Hunter-Reay (3), Tony Kanaan (5), Darren Manning (1), Mario Moraes (1), Will Power (3), Graham Rahal (2), Alex Tagliani (9), E.J. Viso (1) and Justin Wilson (5).
“I just can't wait to get back to Long Beach,” said Vision Racing’s Hunter-Reay, who finished second at St. Petersburg.
Hunter-Reay has made three starts at Long Beach, recording seventh-place finishes in 2003 and 2004.
“That's one of my favorite races,” he said. “It's such a cool event. It's just great to be going back there again. We're going in there with a bit of momentum at a track that I know and I love racing at.”
Among the teams that have competed at Long Beach in the past, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing has six victories and 11 poles, while Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske each have four victories.