It's his first win since cheating death in an Indy 500 accident in 2015, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver James Hinchcliffe won the 43rd running of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, holding off Sebastien Bourdais and Josef Newgarden in a 3 lap sprint to the finish.
"To finally do what was goal No. 1 when we set out at the start of the season, to get back into winner's circle, to do so as early in the season as we have, as convincingly as we did, was great," said Hinchcliffe.
"After Indy and personally me for Toronto, this is the biggest one to win," Hinchcliffe said. "I've had a lot of luck here. We've been really quick here in the past and to finally get to victory lane here is more than I can put into words.
"This place has a lot of history, that's what drivers really care about. The greatest of the greats have won here. Toronto, Indy and this place were on my bucket list to win before I die, and it's nice to check one off."
"The fuel saving we could achieve today with the performance we had on the Honda was amazing," said Bourdais, the four-time Indy car champion who won three straight Long Beach races from 2005-07. "I've always been pretty comfortable saving fuel and that one sort of came to us today."
Josef Newgarden finished third in the No. 2 Verizon Chevrolet, earning his best Long Beach result and first top-three finish since joining Team Penske this season.
"It's always good to get the first podium out of the way for the Captain," Newgarden said of team owner Roger Penske. "It was a pleasure to drive this weekend. Verizon gives us great tools at Team Penske. It's nice to get this one out of the way. Hopefully now we can hunt down some wins."
Hinchcliffe ran near the front all day long and lost his two main competitors when Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi fell out.
It was a long day for Andretti Autosport who looked set to win but suffered engine failures in all four of its cars.
It was the 5th IndyCar win for Hinchcliffe and first since the New Orleans race. The win was the 6th for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
What started as a promising day for the Andretti Autosport team ended in disappointment . Teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi both ran consistently in the top three after starting third and fifth, respectively.
The duo's pace put them on track for a pair of podium finishes before mechanical issues forced early retirement.
The days of Marco Andretti and Takuma Sato were also cut short after suffering mechanical issues of their own. The four unrelated and unforeseeable issues served a blow to the quartet as they now look to fight back in two-weeks time.
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Dale Coyne Racing followed up its season opening victory with another great team performance today at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach with Sebastien Bourdais finishing second and rookie Ed Jones sixth.
The podium finish by Bourdais keeps him atop the Championship standings with a 19-point lead over Long Beach race winner James Hinchcliffe. As for Jones, his two top 10 finishes to start the season place him seventh in the points standings heading into the next round.
While the team has had its best start to the season, it didn’t look like it was going to go that way early in the race.
Bourdais, who was starting 12th, had to dodge a flying piece of debris on the opening lap. The Frenchman managed to avoid getting hit in the head but the piece hit and ripped the whole left side of the car’s rear wing, forcing the driver of the #18 Trench Shoring Honda to pit lane for a new one which in turn relegated him to the back of the field.
Fortunately for Bourdais, the repairs were done under a full course caution. When the race resumed on Lap 5, Bourdais was 20th with his teammate Jones in ninth, having already moved up from his 13th place on the grid.
Both drivers, who were on different pit stop strategies, gained positions as the race moved on. By Lap 35 Bourdais was seventh and Jones eighth.
Jones then fell to 14th following his stop on Lap 37, but the driver of the #19 Boy Scouts of America entry battled his way back into the Top 10.
|The sundrenched crowd watches the race start|
By the lap 70 restart, Bourdais was up to third with Jones ninth. The reigning Indy Lights Champion would go on to pass Pigot for eighth and eventually move up to sixth with Bourdais moving into second with six laps remaining in the 85-lap race.
In the final laps, Bourdais had to fend off Team Penske’s Joseph Newgarden to hold on to second while Jones was keeping Carlos Munoz at bay to take the checkered in sixth, scoring his best Verizon IndyCar Series result so far this season.
Jones received praised from team owner Dale Coyne for his on-track performance: “Ed did a phenomenal job. You have to watch Ed during the race. Sebastien couldn’t get around Marco Andretti in the first stint at St. Pete but Ed got around Andretti in the second stint at St. Pete and Ed got around Rahal here. He’s passing people on the track. He’s racing really well. He got a sixth here, he should have had a sixth at St. Pete but he got it here and he’s doing a very good job. I’m very happy with Ed’s progress."
Ed Carpenter Racing driver JR Hildebrand suffered a broken bone in his left hand during an incident at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Hildebrand was entering the first turn on Lap 85 when his No. 21 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet made contact with the No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda driven by Mikhail Aleshin.
According to INDYCAR medical director Dr. Geoffrey Billows, Hildebrand will be re-evaluated upon his return to Indianapolis this week and has not been cleared to return to Verizon IndyCar Series competition.
“At the end of the race, we all were bunched back up because of that last yellow," Hildebrand explained. “I was on reds and had a little bit for at least the handful of cars in front of us. On the last lap, I was making a move on Mikhail Aleshin and I could tell he was struggling. I was out of push-to-pass so I was trying to make a proper, full-out pass down he front straightaway. He had been starting to move over, not a major blocking maneuver but enough to assert his line. He hit the brake a lot earlier than I was expecting and I ended up running into the back of him. In doing so, it ripped the steering wheel from my hand and I ended up tweaking it. At the end of the day, to come home with an 11th place finish isn’t terrible. It is a bummer though as we were certainly on our way to finishing in the Top 10 and now we are in a bit of a jam going forward. Hopefully I can get back to it here before the next race."
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): "It was exciting. At the beginning we were able to pass a lot of cars. The Menards Chevrolet was phenomenal all weekend. I was really excited before the race because I knew we had such a strong weapon. It was all about having the right strategy to make it work. We actually switched strategies because it was going so well at the beginning. The flat tire set us back a little, but it was a good championship day. I'm so proud of the team. Everyone worked really hard to come out of here with a good result."
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "I think it got a lot more mixed up with the strategy today. (Scott) Dixon and me were on something different than the front guys, (Ryan) Hunter-Reay, (James Hinchcliffe), (Alexander) Rossi. I thought that added a dynamic that was more fun than last year. Everyone was on the same strategy last year, which let the race play out to not much action, unfortunately. This year was a lot more mixed up. I did way more passing than I've done in the past couple years. I thought it was an exciting race. For us on Team Penske, it was a good day. The Verizon Hum car, we had a strong car underneath us all day. I felt about it good in warmup. We had a car that was capable of challenging for the win if everything fell correctly. Our strategy didn't play out with that last yellow. It just allowed everyone to catch up on fuel a little bit. We were on the same strategy at the end fuel-wise. Our strategy of trying to run those guys down at the end and be fast wasn't really able to play out, which is unfortunate, but that's how racing goes. You have to choose one strategy and hope it plays out for you. Today it got us close. Third place is something we can roll with, try to get a win."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet): "It just wasn't our day. The Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet was really fast but we had a few other problems that kind of ruined the day. I think we had some electronic problems that caused us to mess up the start of the race and the pit road speeding penalties. We'll regroup and head to Barber. One of these days all of this bad luck will even out. It can't come soon enough."
CONOR DALY (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Chevrolet): "I have no idea what happened at the start–just massive power delivery and I just lost it. It was probably my fault but it was really unexpected. We'd been OK out of there all weekend long. The rest of the day struggled when the car was on overtake, a lot of vibrations so we couldn't use it. It left us a little helpless. The ABC car was actually OK –pretty decent handling so maybe we could have fought for that top 10. Once we fell behind it was hard to make up. We're still finishing races and still learning."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach race winner): "A lot has changed since the last time we were sitting up here. It's just so nice to be back. We came really close last year. A lot of people talked about 2016 as sort of the comeback year. Personally we really wanted to as a team to put an exclamation point on that by coming to Victory Lane. We came as close as humanly possible in Texas last year. Didn't quite get the job done. We were sore to not win a race last year. We worked hard this off-season to perfect the package we had. Good speed at a lot of races last year. To roll off the first two races of the season, being in the Fast Six both times, if not for a caution falling for the wrong time at St. Pete, could have been in the top five or on podium there. To do it here and finally at this place, a track that I love so much, a track that's been very good to me in my career, one that I think is the Indy 500 of street tracks, it's the second longest running race after the 500. I think because of that history, it makes it a very special event, one that every driver wants to win. The greats have all raced here, the greats have all won here. To get in the winner's circle was huge."
MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Honda): "It was a long day. We went pretty erratic with the setup. We have been struggling as a car team, not overall, just the No. 8 car, so we went to a different setup and didn't like it, so it was a long afternoon. At that point you just need to be able to race. I think I did all right but I didn't move forward. It was the first weekend we have had in quite a while now where we haven't been improving. We will look into what is going on and see if we can get better for the Barber race."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 NTT Data Honda): "We got a great start in the NTT Data car and were just cruising along there making good fuel mileage. We came in to pit shortly after and that ended up shuffling things up a bit on strategy. But the car was great and the team worked really hard. It was pretty hard to pass at the end, which is typical for street races as we all know. So fourth was how it played out. We've qualified very well the first two races so hopefully we can convert that into a win really soon."
TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Honda): "This was a rough weekend for the No.10 NTT Data Honda. We had some contact on the first lap and had to come in for a new front wing and later in the race we made contact and had a cut left rear that we had to come in and change unexpectedly. We were just never able to get back up with the front runners."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "It was a tough day for the No. 12 Verizon Chevy. We were caught up in an incident early in the race and I feel like it really ruined my day. It was an awful situation to be put in since we had nowhere to go when we made contact with the wall. Still, we battled. I'm really proud of my guys for working as hard as they did to try and come back from the incident but we couldn't. We're ready to head to Barber and get another chance to perform well."
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "Finally got some good points for Foyt — finishing seventh after a hard weekend. We think that's the best position we could have had. We improved the ABC Supply Chevrolet a lot but it's still not there. Still need to improve but I'm really happy with my crew and my engineers. The guys did an awesome job in the pits-it was their first race doing pit stops together and they did a really good job. Hopefully we keep it up all year long."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 PennGrade Motor Oil Honda): "We got a good start and passed (Alexander) Rossi and Helio Castroneves for fourth. I felt like we were in a pretty good place to settle in but it became apparent that a lot of guys around me weren't going to save fuel like I was. I tried to just keep pace but struggled pretty hard on the first stint with a bit of an issue with the front tires. On the second stint we were as good as anybody but when it came down to it, we had lost too much time in the first stint. It was disappointing to get the puncture, this PennGrade team deserved more than that. Yes it's a top-10 but it's not going to help us in the point standings very much and we definitely need a lot of those."
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Trench Shoring Honda): "That was an incredible race. At the beginning, somebody lost an end plate or something. It flew by, I dodged it in the car, it went really close and it ripped off the whole left side of the rear wing and rear pod and that's why we came in so early. It gave us a couple of laps to save fuel, but we played to our strengths. I've always been pretty comfortable saving fuel and that one kind of came to us. I was just really surprised that no one played the game. It was feasible fuel wise, for us at least. Good job by Honda, obviously. We lost balance a little bit at the end so I was just trying to hang on to second place. James (Hinchcliffe) really deserved that one. He looked very comfortable and quick up front and I didn't really have the balance at the end to go challenge him so I just managed for second place. I was kind of thinking Championship a little bit out there! I don't know that we're a contender but we'll find out. We'll have stayed up there for two races so that's not too bad."
ED JONES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): "It's great to be in the top 10 again with a sixth. Another great effort by the team as well with Seb finishing second. I said this at St. Pete, it shows the effort that Dale has put into the team with the drivers, engineers, the development, the whole package to take the team to another level this year and the proof is the first two races. It's clear to see. I'm really excited. We made big jumps this weekend from St. Pete and I can't wait to get to Barber to make even more. It was a tough race, I was fighting people every stint which is great to do. I had some good battles and at the end it was nice to have the yellow to close everything up a bit. Unfortunately, I didn't have the pace to attack Pagenaud in front of me but still, it was a good result and I can't wait for the next one."
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Preferred Freezer Service Chevrolet): "At the end of the race, we all were bunched back up because of that last yellow. I was on reds and had a little bit for at least the handful of cars in front of us. On the last lap, I was making a move on Mikhail Aleshin and I could tell he was struggling. I was out of push-to-pass so I was trying to make a proper, full-out pass down he front straightaway. He had been starting to move over, not a major blocking maneuver but enough to assert his line. He hit the brake a lot earlier than I was expecting and I ended up running into the back of him. In doing so, it ripped the steering wheel from my hand and I ended up tweaking it. At the end of the day, to come home with an 11th place finish isn't terrible. It is a bummer though as we were certainly on our way to finishing in the top 10 and now we are in a bit of a jam going forward. Hopefully I can get back to it here before the next race."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): "It was a long and tough day. We went a different way with strategy and dedicated to a three-stop race. It just didn't flow as we wished. In the end, we lost power and had to park. Certainly, after practice and qualifying and this morning I felt really strong in the car and it's a shame we couldn't finish… but we will work to come back strong."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda): "We had a decent start to the day, and the three-stop strategy would have been interesting. The UFD car had good pace and the boys were good in the pits on the first stop, then we had a sensor issue and our day was done. We need to pull back together and play catch up."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): "We had a good showing for DHL and Honda today, but I don't know what happened. It was something electrical. I tried cycling the car a few times and it didn't fire. Then, once we had sat (in the runoff) for a few moments, we tried flipping a few switches and it fired back up again but it was too late to rejoin the race. It felt like the same issue we had at Pocono (2016). It really hurts when it's that close to the end and I was closing on (Hinchcliffe); we were going to have a good showdown there at the end. That's why this sport can be so rewarding and so cruel, there's nothing you can do. Frustrating for sure but today it was out of our hands."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Tresiba Honda): "To say I am frustrated with how today's race went is an understatement. I thought I was clear of the 12 but I obviously wasn't. He turned me and put me in the wall pretty heavy. I am really disappointed for the guys – they worked so hard to get the car to a good place for today's race. The No. 83 Tresiba Honda was fast and I thought we had a lot of potential for a solid result in today's race."
ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Honda): "I thought we had a really good shot at winning. The pace of the car was really good all day and we were able to recover from a little bit of a tricky pit stop sequence on the first stop, so it's unfortunate because the NAPA Auto Parts car was awesome. We'll just have to fight back at Barber. Honda has done an amazing job so it's unfortunate, but congrats to Honda and Hinch on the win."
|13||12||Will Power||84||1 LAPS||74.9048||5||1:08.291||0||103.744||Chevy|
|14||8||Max Chilton||84||1 LAPS||0.4515||4||1:08.636||0||103.223||Honda|
|15||10||Tony Kanaan||84||1 LAPS||0.5584||6||1:07.831||0||104.447||Honda|
|16||4||Conor Daly||84||1 LAPS||0.7588||6||1:08.681||0||103.155||Chevy|
|20||27||Marco Andretti||14||1 LAPS||11.5010||1||1:09.115||0||102.507||Honda|
Winners average speed: 90.845 mph
Time of Race: 1:50:28.9818
Margin of victory: 1.4940 seconds
Cautions: 3 for 11 laps
Lead changes: 6 among 3 drivers
Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Bourdais 93, Hinchcliffe 74, Pagenaud 71, Dixon 70, Newgarden 59, Castroneves 51, Jones 48, Hunter-Reay 46, Sato 43, Andretti 36.