Josef Newgarden outsmarts competitors to win his first Long Beach Grand Prix

Josef Newgarden, after leapfrogging the leaders during the final pit cycle, held off Romain Grosjean and Álex Palou for the final 15 laps to finally win his first Long Beach Grand Prix after two previous runner-up finishes.

A three car battle for the lead, Newgarden, Grosjean and Palou, inside 15 to go (Photo by Chris Jones/IndyCar Media)

On lap 59 Newgarden who had ran inside the top three all race long, came out of pit road squeezing just ahead of Palou, holding onto the lead after staying out an extra lap. Palou went side by side with Newgarden in turns four and five, but Newgarden prevailed on the inside.

Simon Pagenaud attempted some mid-race landscaping when he drove into the dolphin fountain garden and got stuck facing the wrong way, bringing out the caution inside of 25 to go 

Grosjean then joined the battle for the lead overtaking Palou inside of 20 laps to down the front straightaway. Newgarden had to fend off Grosjean again on another restart with five to go going two-wide on the inside into turn one. Newgarden led Grosjean single file into the fountain turn and despite Grosjean sticking with Newgarden on the softer red tyre, he would not find a way past running out of push to pass while Newgarden had four seconds to spare and would finish the race in first after a yellow ended the race early with half a lap to go due to Takuma Sato crashing into the turn eight tyre wall.

From left to right: Romain Grosjean, Josef Newgarden, and Alex Palou on the podium (Photo by Chris Jones/IndyCar Media)

Talking to NBC in victory lane, Newgarden said “I’ve been trying to win here for 11 years so I’m so glad to finally get it done.”

From hometown hero to hometown horror, it was Colton Herta who should have been up at the front and had been leading the first half of the race comfortably over Newgarden and Palou.

Instead while pushing hard on what appeared to be his in-lap for his final pit stop, Herta bounced over the turn nine curb and under-steered into the wall breaking his front wing and suspension putting an immediate end to his quest for consecutive Long Beach Grand Prix wins.

The terminal damage to Colton Herta’s Andretti Honda (Photo by Chris Jones/IndyCar Media)

Herta had led the first 30 laps or so controlling the pace of the race, maintaining a consistent two second gap over Newgarden and Palou, the three of which had checked out from the rest of the field. Palou did the overcut during the first cycle of pit stops, going from third to first after his Chip Ganassi Racing pit crew did a fast pit stop of 7.5 seconds compared with Herta’s 9.1 and Newgarden’s eight.

Colton Herta leading the field to green (Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media)

Palou came out with a 2.7 second lead over Newgarden who had successfully done the overcut on Herta. Herta’s crash at the end of his second stint, after a determined effort to gain time on his in-lap like Palou did over Newgarden, was reminiscent of his crash at last year’s Nashville race where he was trying to hunt down leader Marcus Ericsson in the closing laps, before carrying too much speed off the bridge and ended up slamming into the tyre wall.

Second place Romain Grosjean had a phenomenal race weekend and was laps away from potentially winning his first IndyCar race. Grosjean had been on course to take pole away from Andretti teammate Herta on Saturday before overdriving the car into the turn five tyre wall.

Starting from sixth on the grid, he had battled through the field and joined the leaders inside the final 20 lap but Jimmie Johnson’s crash with eight to go put a huge dent in his plans to overtake Newgarden and would instead only have five laps left to do so on worn softer tyres with no push to pass. Grosjean came to the checkered flag in Newgarden’s mirrors.

Romain Grosjean racing in the Long Beach Grand Prix (Photo by Chris Owens/IndyCar Media)

Some early front runners faced issues that saw them end up around the bottom end of the top 10. Felix Rosenqvist started fourth but on lap 21 Alexander Rossi came steaming into turn one and hip checked Rosenqvist. Both appeared to have just gotten away with the collision but Rosenqvist’s fast pace would drop off following the coming together and would drop to as low to 14th place but ended up finishing 11th. Rossi would also quickly lose places to Marcus Ericsson and Grosjean and would finish eighth.

From right to left: Felix Rosenqvist, Alexander Rossi, Marcus Ericsson and Romain Grosjean racing around the dolphin fountain (Photo by Chris Jones/IndyCar Media)

Will Power along with Rosenqvist’s teammate Pato O’Ward while having no answer for the top three, would quietly make their way up the field to finish fourth and fifth due to a consistently fast race pace and staying out of trouble. Scott Dixon through the use of an aggressive undercut pit-stop strategy, would work his way to sixth after starting 16th. Dixon would be the first to pit on lap 22 as well as for his second stop, spending the most time in clean air during the race, and cycled to fifth after the first set of pit stops.

A.J. Foyt Enterprises’ cars would prove to have a very respectable race through consistency and staying out of trouble. Kyle Kirkwood would finish 10th, making him the highest finishing rookie, while Tatiana Calderón would finish an impressive 16th after starting 26th in just her second IndyCar start.

Tatiana Calderón racing in the Long Beach Grand Prix (Photo by Chris Jones/IndyCar Media)

For much of the field, the race proved to be a race of attrition, with spins and collisions on a track that had the largest marbles seen at an IndyCar race for years. This was believed to be down to the significantly softer tyre that Firestone had brought to the IndyCar series this year compared with previous seasons that the street course devoured as the laps went by.

Dalton Kellett would retire early from the race after ending up in the turn one tyre wall on lap six. On lap 34, championship points leader Scott McLaughlin would clip the inside wall of turn 11 with his sidepod but completed an amazing spin around in front of the blind corner. He continued on to finish 14th but consequently lost the points lead to Newgarden.

Scott McLaughlin racing in the Long Beach Grand Prix (Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media)

Devlin DeFrancesco would not be so fortunate as he too like Herta would drive into the turn nine wall but on his out-lap at the end of his second stint before spinning in turn 11 with terminal damage after attempting to get back to pit road. With 19 to go, Ericsson would collide with the turn four wall and spin across the track, getting collected by teammate Dixon who had nowhere to go. Ericsson would be forced to retire immediately while Dixon managed to keep going with no repairs needed.

Full finishing order: (1st) Josef Newgarden, (2nd) Romain Grosjean, (3rd) Álex Palou, (4th) Will Power, (5th) Pato O’Ward, (6th) Scott Dixon, (7th) Graham Rahal, (8th) Alexander Rossi, (9th) Hélio Castroneves, (10th) Kyle Kirkwood, (11th) Felix Rosenqvist, (12th) Conor Daly, (13th) Rinus Veekay, (14th) Scott McLaughlin, (15th) Jack Harvey, (16th) Tatiana Calderón, (17th) Takuma Sato, (18th) Christian Lundgaard, (19th) Simon Pagenaud, (20th) Jimmie Johnson, (21st) David Malukas, (22nd) Marcus Ericsson, (23rd) Colton Herta, (24th) Callum Ilott, (25th) Devlin DeFrancesco, (26th) Dalton Kellett.

Top 10 in points standings: 1st Josef Newgarden (118), 2nd Scott McLaughlin (113), 3rd Álex Palou (103), 4th Will Power (102), 5th Scott Dixon (83), 6th Romain Grosjean (75), 7th Rinus VeeKay (67), 8th Marcus Ericsson (66), 9th Pato O’Ward (63), 10th Graham Rahal (60).

Featured Image: Josef Newgarden celebrating in victory lane (Photo by Chris Jones/IndyCar Media)

Colton Herta smashes track record and claims pole at Long Beach

Hometown driver Colton Herta smashed the track record this afternoon, held by Hélio Castroneves, by nearly a second with a 1:05.3095 securing pole position for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Long Beach. Herta is starting where he finished off last year’s event, where he won the 2021 Grand Prix of Long Beach and is now set to go back to back.

Herta had been flying for all of qualifying. The Andretti Autosport driver, born just 60 miles away from the track, topped the round one, group one session with a 1:05.73, and then replicated this in round two with a 1:05.41. Talking to NBC, Herta said “The car was so fast. Honda have been spectacular.”

Colton Herta racing around the fountain (Photo by Chris Owens/IndyCar Media)

Herta’s teammates were also blisteringly fast. In both of Herta’s sessions, Alexander Rossi had finished second while Romain Grosjean had topped the round 1, group 2 session with a 1:05.75.

Alexander Rossi racing around the fountain (Photo by Chris Jones/IndyCar Media)

Going into the Firestone Fast Six, it looked like it was Andretti Autosport’s destiny to lock out the top three positions for tomorrow’s race but while Grosjean was on a flying lap and on course to go quicker than Herta, he tagged the wall coming out of turn four, broke a suspension tow link, and with a loss in steering crashed the Honda into the turn five tyre wall, bringing out the red flag.

After the red flag was lifted with just two seconds of the session left, IndyCar followed the rulebook and allowed the drivers to complete one flying lap but Rossi did not go out again and would settle for fifth after Grosjean got demoted to sixth for having brought out the red flag. Talking to NBC regarding the incident, Grosjean said “Worst case scenario is sixth so just send it right?” Grosjean had been fastest in practice two earlier in the day.

Through all the chaos towards the end of the Firestone Fast Six, Josef Newgarden found himself having qualifying second. Álex Palou qualified third, and Felix Rosenqvist fourth. Palou won the IndyCar championship last year at Long Beach who hosted the final race of the season, after finishing fourth.

Josef Newgarden out qualifying (Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media)

Team Penske had been the challenger to Andretti Autosport over the race weekend, but it had appeared that championship leader Scott McLaughlin had the edge over teammate Newgarden, going third fastest in practice one and eigth fastest in practice two however he was affected by a build up of traffic at the turn 11 hairpin where drivers had been backing up the field somewhat throughout qualifying.

During the round two session, McLaughlin had let Marcus Ericsson past but Ericsson felt his lap was compromised and backed off before going side by side with McLaughlin around turn 10 heading to the hairpin compromising McLaughlin’s next flying lap. McLaughlin would qualify ninth.

Scott McLaughlin out qualifying (Photo by Chris Jones/IndyCar Media)

A similar incident occurred for Will Power where he felt he had also been impeded and missed out on the fast six and instead will have to start seventh for tomorrow’s race. It was even more painful for Pato O’Ward who was more than on course for making the fast six before going wide at the turn 11 hairpin and missed out by 0.005 of a second.

A big name of the weekend missing from the top six was Simon Pagenaud, who had been fastest in practice one and fifth in practice two. He had gone second fastest in round one, group two with a 1:05.89 but in round two, Pagenaud would only manage 10th.

Scott Dixon would only manage 16th while Kyle Kirkwood was the highest qualifying rookie in 12th and had been mixing it up in the top 10 during practice and qualifying.

The two round one group sessions some saw some close shaves as well as crashes. Jimmie Johnson, who was nursing a broken bone in his right hand from yesterday’s practice crash, crashed into the turn one tyre wall after missing the apex of the corner. The frustrated Californian yelled “Dammit, dammit, dammit!” on the radio. Before this, Johnson had been penalized for interference with Graham Rahal in turn one and would not advance to the next session.

Jimmie Johnson in the turn one tyre wall (Photo by Chris Owens/IndyCar Media)

Rookie David Malukas would slide into the tyre wall opposite the fountain bringing out the red flag, but would continue and qualify 19th.

David Malukas sliding into the tyre wall opposite the fountain (Photo by Chris Jones/IndyCar Media)

Conor Daly’s car was damaged after tagging the turn eight wall and would have to come down pit road.

Rosenqvist locked up over the bump heading into turn nine and had to take the escape road while Ericsson nearly flung his Huski Chocolate Honda into the turn five tyre wall while on his flying lap.

The green flag for the Grand Prix of Long Beach flies at 3pm ET on Sunday.

The full qualifying results are as follows: Colton Herta (1st), Josef Newgarden (2nd), Álex Palou (3rd), Felix Rosenqvist (4th), Alexander Rossi (5th), Romain Grosjean (6th), Will Power (7th), Marcus Ericsson (8th), Scott McLaughlin (9th), Simon Pagenaud (10th), Pato O’Ward (11th), Kyle Kirkwood (12th), Graham Rahal (13th), Hélio Castroneves (14th), Rinus VeeKay (15th), Scott Dixon (16th), Devlin DeFrancesco (17th), Conor Daly (18th), David Malukas (19th), Christian Lundgaard (20th), Jack Harvey (21st), Callum Ilott (22nd), Takuma Sato (23rd), Dalton Kellett (24th), Jimmie Johnson (25th), Tatiana Calderón (26th).

IndyCar Long Beach Report: Rossi delivers Andretti’s 200th win

Alexander Rossi dominated the race at Long Beach for a second year running, making him the first driver to win back to back races at the track since Sebastien Bourdais’ run of three wins from 2005 to 2007. Rossi’s win also marks the 200th race win for his Andretti Autosport team, prompting huge celebrations.

Rossi’s performance was even more dominant than it was last year, leading from the start and forming a five-second lead before the first stops. His lead only increased after that, hitting ten seconds after forty laps and then staying at around that mark for the rest of the race.

The only time Rossi’s win looked anything but certain was when he was having to deal with traffic after the second stops and got a bit too close for comfort to Marcus Ericsson. This proved to not be an issue and Rossi took his first win of the season, putting him into second in the championship, 28 points behind leader Josef Newgarden.

Newgarden extended his championship lead by one point after finishing in a comfortable second place. The #2 Penske’s race was made by the first stops where they took the risk of staying out later than all the other leaders, putting Newgarden at real risk of getting caught out by a caution.

This nearly came to fruition when Santino Ferrucci spun at Turn 1, but a caution was avoided and Newgarden dived into the pits the following lap, jumping Will Power and Scott Dixon in the process. After that, his second place was unchallenged and Newgarden took his third podium of the year.

Dixon finished in an unexpected third after Graham Rahal was penalised for a marginal block on the final lap. It looked like a third Long Beach podium would be out of reach for Dixon after he had a fuel probe issue during his second stop which meant he was stationary for nearly twenty seconds. After this, Dixon fought back and caught up to fourth-placed Ryan Hunter-Reay with ten laps to go, passing him with just a handful of laps left. He then set about Rahal and probably would’ve passed him without the block from the RLL driver anyway.

Credit: Chris Owens/IndyCar

For Rahal’s part, the block was on the edge; he moved across to the right just as Dixon did. Race direction called him out for blocking, meaning he lost his third-place finish. Rahal had only got into a podium position through Dixon’s pit stop mishap, so fourth-place wasn’t too much of a disappointment for him – though he did want to make up for his lost podium at Barber.

Simon Pagenaud ran a fairly quiet race with the only minor incident in his race being a slight touch with Hunter-Reay on the first lap. Both drivers got away with it and Pagenaud went onto have a clean race, delivering his best result of the season so far in sixth. The other Penske of Power had a less clean race, spinning at Turn 1 while trying to fend off an overtake from Dixon. This dropped him down to eighth, and over the rest of the race, he only managed to gain one place, finishing seventh.

Last week’s race winner Takuma Sato didn’t have the best of races, finishing eighth after a fairly uneventful race buried in the midfield. COTA race winner Colton Herta had an even worse race; the #88 Harding driver got sideways at Turn 9 and hit the wall, breaking his front left suspension and front wing, putting him out of the race.

Credit: John Cote/IndyCar

Herta was the only non-finisher, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t drama elsewhere. Spencer Pigot and Zach Veach got together on the first lap, as did Jack Harvey and Ericsson. All drivers were restarted under the caution and continued in the race with Harvey losing three laps and Pigot and Ericsson losing one – though Ericsson also encountered a drive-thru penalty for avoidable contact. There were no clear replays of what happened, but Harvey ended up in the hedge below the iconic Long Beach fountain!

Next up on the IndyCar schedule is the IndyCar Grand Prix on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 11, which kicks off the Month of May for the series.

Full Race Results:

  1. Alexander Rossi
  2. Josef Newgarden
  3. Scott Dixon
  4. Graham Rahal
  5. Ryan Hunter-Reay
  6. Simon Pagenaud
  7. Will Power
  8. Takuma Sato
  9. James Hinchcliffe
  10. Felix Rosenqvist (R)
  11. Sebastien Bourdais
  12. Patricio O’Ward (R)
  13. Marco Andretti
  14. Max Chilton
  15. Matheus Leist
  16. Ed Jones
  17. Zach Veach
  18. Spencer Pigot
  19. Tony Kanaan
  20. Marcus Ericsson (R)
  21. Santino Ferrucci (R)
  22. Jack Harvey

DNF – Colton Herta (crash)

Championship Top 5:

  1. Josef Newgarden
  2. Alexander Rossi
  3. Scott Dixon
  4. Takuma Sato
  5. Ryan Hunter-Reay

Featured Image Credit: Shawn Gritzmacher/IndyCar

IndyCar Long Beach Preview

Next up on the IndyCar calendar is the scenic street track of Long Beach, California, a track which no one has managed to dominate over the last few years. With just under 2 miles of streets and 12 turns, Long Beach has lots of overtaking opportunities, making the races here very interesting and often chaotic.

Takuma Sato and Rahal Letterman Lanigan will be heading into this weekend on a high after their win at Barber Motorsports Park. RLL will want a good result all round at Long Beach, rather than just on one side of the garage, as was the case last weekend. Graham Rahal suffered an issue with his Honda engine that left him stranded on the track. This amounted to the sixth Honda-related failure in just three races, compared to just one Chevrolet issue, meaning Honda has still got some reliability issues to see to.

Despite this, Honda has won two of the three races so far this season with Sato and Colton Herta both taking victories. Chevrolet holds the championship lead, though, with Josef Newgarden sitting 27 points clear at the top of the standings, having won at St Petersburg and finished second and fifth in the following rounds. Scott Dixon is second in the championship and Sato’s victory at Barber has elevated him to third, while COTA-winner Herta has dropped to fifth after suffering from reliability issues at Barber.

Barber itself was almost entirely dominated by Sato, who led for 74 of the 90 laps. He made a mistake towards the end of the race and ran off track, giving Dixon a chance at the win but the reigning champion could not capitalise on the mistake, settling for second for the sixth time at Barber.

2019 Barber podium (L-R) Scott Dixon, Takuma Sato, Sebastien Bourdais. Credit: Chris Owens/IndyCar

This means Dixon is yet to win a race in 2019 but this is hardly anything to worry about given he didn’t take his first win in 2018 until the seventh race, and that didn’t exactly stop him going onto win the championship!

Unlike other tracks, Long Beach has not had any single driver or team dominating in recent years. Alexander Rossi won last year’s race from pole – the first driver to do so since 2007. The race was incident-filled with four caution periods, but Rossi held firm throughout the 85 laps and to take one of his most convincing wins to date.

The last four races at Long Beach have been split between Honda and Chevrolet, with neither manufacturer having a clear advantage – adding to the excitement of this track. This is the second street race of the season and will follow the same weekend format as all the races so far with the two-group qualifying eventually ending in the Fast Six.

The grid is back down to 23-cars for Round 4 as Ben Hanley and DragonSpeed are not competing again until the Indy 500. Other than that, everything is the same as it was at Barber.

As Long Beach is back-to-back with Barber, it’s unlikely that Honda has found many solutions to the problems experienced last weekend, meaning Honda unreliability could again be a factor this weekend. Dixon, Rossi and Will Power are all after their first wins of the season, with Rossi coming in as the defending Long Beach champion. Rossi is, in fact, looking for his first podium of the season as the highest placed driver in the championship without one, something that he will want to set straight in the next few races, especially with the Indy 500 on the horizon.

2018 Long Beach podium, (L-R) Will Power, Alexander Rossi, Ed Jones. Credit: Joe Skibinski/IndyCar

None of the Road to Indy programme are at Long Beach, as was the case in Barber, so it is just IndyCar again, though this time IMSA are also in town with a 100-minute shootout, taking place after IndyCar’s qualifying. The clash means none of the IndyCar drivers that normally compete in IMSA will be doing so this weekend, with each team made up of only two drivers, compared to the usual three or four. The timings for this weekend are as follows:

April 12

Practice 1 – 10:00am (PDT) / 6:00pm (BST)
Practice 2 – 2:00pm / 10:00pm

April 13

Practice 3 – 9:00am / 5:00pm
Qualifying – 12:10pm / 8:10pm
IMSA Race – 2:00pm / 10:00pm

April 14

Race – 1:30pm / 9:30pm

Entry List:

# Driver Team
2 Josef Newgarden Team Penske
4 Matheus Leist AJ Foyt Racing
5 James Hinchcliffe Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
7 Marcus Ericsson (R) Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
9 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing
10 Felix Rosenqvist (R) Chip Ganassi Racing
12 Will Power Team Penske
14 Tony Kanaan AJ Foyt Racing
15 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan
18 Sebastien Bourdais Dale Coyne Racing
19 Santino Ferrucci (R) Dale Coyne Racing
20 Ed Jones Ed Carpenter Racing
21 Spencer Pigot Ed Carpenter Racing
22 Simon Pagenaud Team Penske
26 Zach Veach Andretti Autosport
27 Alexander Rossi Andretti Autosport
28 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport
30 Takuma Sato Rahal Letterman Lanigan
31 Patricio O’Ward (R) Carlin
59 Max Chilton Carlin
60 Jack Harvey Meyer Shank Racing/Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
88 Colton Herta (R) Harding Steinbrenner
98 Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport

Featured Image Credit: Chris Owens/IndyCar

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