The IZOD IndyCar Series took to the most famous street course in the US for the 39th Grand Prix of Long Beach on a perfect California day. The IndyCar series comes to the Monaco of North America with some new faces at or near the top of the standings with James Hinchcliffe having won the season opener at St. Petersburg and favorites like Will Power and Dario Franchitti having difficulties in both the opener and the second race at Barber Motorsports Park.
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – Qualifying
An event filled qualifying session left the Target Ganassi racers split with Dario Franchitti on pole and Scott Dixon next to last on the grid due to a penalty. Second was reigning champion Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport, and third was Team Penske’s Will Power.
The first five rows at the start of the Grand Prix of Long Beach were:
- Dario Franchitti
- Ryan Hunter-Reay
- Will Power
- Takuma Sato
- Mike Conway
- Helio Castroneves
- James Hinchcliffe
- Tony Kanaan
- Charlie Kimball
- E.J. Viso
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – The Race
On lap 1,Tristan Vautier clipped Scott Dixon approaching Turn 5 spinning Dixon, damaging his wing, and flattening his right rear tire. On the second lap, Sebastian Saavedra brought out a full course caution when he slammed into the wall at the exit of Turn 9 after passing Simona de Silvestro and carrying far too much speed into the turn. For much of the early part of the race, Franchitti lead from Hunter-Reay, Sato, Power, and Hinchcliffe. Charlie Kimball and Alex Tagliani tangled going into Turn 7 while drivers were making their first green lap pit stops, bringing out a full course yellow on lap 31. Kimball was on cold tires and overshot the corner on the inside carrying both cars into the tire barriers on the exit.
The lap 34 restart was messy from the start with the running order Sato, Power, Franchitti, Conway, and Rahal. James Hinchcliffe had the door to Turn 1 slammed shut by Tony Kanaan bringing out another caution and taking Hinchcliffe out of the race and also damaging E.J. Viso’s car. Green flag racing resumed on lap 39 with Sato leading from Franchitti, Rahal, Power, and Kanaan. Will Power struggled mightily throughout the middle part of the race, steadily dropping back into the middle of the pack while Takuma Sato built up a big gap.
On lap 50, Ryan Hunter-Reay carried too much speed into Turn 7 and buried it in the tire barriers bringing out another full course yellow. During the caution period pit stops, Vautier was released into Power, damaging Power’s right rear, extending his pit stop, and necessitating a second stop as his day went from bad to worse.
With 25 of 80 laps to go at the restart they were running Sato, Rahal, Franchitti, Wilson, and Kanaan with the top four on softer red tires and Kanaan on more durable blacks. Takuma Sato, who really had the pace all day long, ran easily to victory. Graham Rahal who also ran a solid race took the second spot on the podium with Justin Wilson climbing from a 24th place start to finish third.
The win at the Grand Prix of Long Beach was Takuma Sato’s first in 52 attempts, and it was the first win for A.J. Foyt Enterprises since July 7, 2002.
Top ten finishers:
|Position||Driver||Car No.||Start||Laps Led||Points|
|9||Simona de Silvestro||78||19||22|