If I could only go to one race a year besides the Indianpolis 500, it would be the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. The city embraces the race, the event oozes history and prestige, and I always have a great time there,
The 48th Grand Prix of Long Beach will be a pivotal early season test for a couple of teams in the Indycar series. Will the Newgarden-O’Ward duel continue? Can Andretti get their act tofether? Will Rahal have a breakthrough weekend?
I am on the way back to summer headquarters so my coverage will be on a bit of a delyed basis today and possibly tomorrow. But back to this weekend’s questions.
Newgarden vs. O’Ward- More Please
After their stirring battle for the win at Texas, their seventh such duel over the past three years, I would not mind seieing this type of fight all year. Newgarden is the defending race winner. O’Ward showed a strong street course package at St. Pete. It will be funb to follow these two through qualifying and the race. The one who comes out ahead may set the tone for the championship.
Colton Herta won Long Beach in 2021and won the pole last year. Alexander Rossi won Long Beach twice for Andretti. The team knows how to win here, Could this be the weekend the team gets back on track? Seven wrecked cars in two races is about as bad a start as they could have.
There is hope, however. Romain Grosjean finished second in 2022 and Kyle Kirkwood had his best 2022 finish, 10th, at Long Beach. Rossi was quick, but got stuck in traffic in the middle of the race.
I look for a strong weekend from the entire team.
A Rahal Turnaround?
If there’s a team more frustrated than Andretti, it has to be Rahal Letterman Lanigan. Poor qualifying, struggling to find the answer aqt Texas, and just one top ten for 2023, the team g=has started the season behind and needs a good weekend just for their iwn oeace of mind.
I would like to see what Graham Rahal could do if ge qualified well and didn’t have to spend the first half of the race passing cars.
Other Teams to Watch
Can Juncos Hollinger Racing keep their great start going? Callim Ilott has two top tens and rookie Augustin Canapino has finished twelfth in bothe races this year.
Is Ed Carpenter Racing as good as they are going to be? The team has been underwhelming so far.
I would not be surprised to see Scott Dixon on the podium Sunday.
The race is on NBC and Peacock Sunday, Green flag is 3:30 Eastern.