Long Beach Wrap Up: The Indianapolis 500 of Street Events

Editor’s note: If you are looking for racing content here, move on. This is my love letter to Long Beach and the Grand Prix.

I was so impressed with Long Beach the first time I attended in 2015 that I could not wait to come back. It took seven years to make it back. I had concerns. Would it feel the same? Would things that I thought were great about the event not seem so good this time? Sometimes the return trip to a track can be a disappointment based on what one remembers from the first trip. Iowa and Kentucky come to mind.

I am happy to say that not only was Long Beach pretty much just as I remembered, in some ways it seemed better. Unlike downtown St. Pete, the landscape seemed to be nearly the same. Perhaps the city is already built out as much as it can be.

Like Indianapolis, Long Beach has made the grand prix a part of its fabric. I talked to several residents who have no interest in racing, but most have attended at least one grand prix. They all are happy to have the event. Restaurants offer discounts to race team members. The buses have a welcome message in their digital route scrolls.

If I could afford to make the Long Beach Grand Prix annually, I would. I feel so comfortable in the somewhat laid -back atmosphere here. Some of the people I met this trip were fascinating.

I met a man named John twice. He carries a long walking stick and walks around the city every day. He said he walks at least three miles a day. John doesn’t attend the race, but he doesn’t mind that it’s there.

A gentleman I spoke with after qualifying told me that he has been to all 47 iterations of the Long Beach Grand Prix. He hopes to get to barber Motorsports Park one day to see the museum there. I shared with him my experiences there.

When the time comes that physical and financial restrictions limit me to going to two races a year, Long Beach will be the one I will choose in addition to the 500. Same event, different city.

Some photos, not necessarily race related of views from the track. Thanks for indulging me.

Rooms with a view
The city beyond the hairpin

Quick Thoughts- Long Beach Grand Prix

Photo: Josef Newgarden earns a hard -fought win

Today’s race showed that a street course can produce exciting racing. Pit stop strategy got Josef Newgarden to the lead. He then had to defend against three challengers- Colton Herta, Alex Palou, and Romain Grosjean. Newgarden brilliantly defended the lines going into the corners to keep Grosjean at bay.

There was a three -way battle for the lead over the last 20 laps. You just can’t ask for more.

Team Penske has swept the season so far, which should worry the rest of the paddock. Scott McLauglin won the opener at St. Pete. Newgarden has now won two in a row heading to Barber, one of his favorite tracks.

Romain Grosjean

Half a Loaf for Andretti

Andretti Autosport hoped to have a much- needed successful weekend. Herta won the pole, and Alexander Rossi and Grosjean joined him in the Fast Six.

A day that looked like a victory, a potential second podium spot, and a top ten dissolved by the halfway mark.

It almost all got away from them. Grosjean’s second place saved the day. Rossi had two forays into runoff areas and Herta crashed. Rossi did finish eighth after running as high as fourth.

As talented as Herta is, he has difficulty playing catch-up. In Nashville last year he also crashed while trying to chase down the leader.

Johnson’s Weekend of Contact

Jimmie Johnson had arguably his most forgettable weekend of his Indycar career. He had wall in every session but one. Johnson injured his hand in Friday’s practice crash. After the first two races and his sixth place result at Texas, I though we might be seeing some progress. Long Beach is a big setback for Johnson.

Kyle Kirkwood

Top Ten for Kirkwood

Kyle Kirkwood finished 10th today for A, J, Foyt Racing. This will not be his last top ten finish this season. Kirkwood has done a great job qualifying and today the team got a good race result. He was consistent all day.

The other rookies did not have great days. Kirkwood’s teammate Tatiana Calderon finished 16th, her best result to date. The Foyt rookies were the two highest finishing rookies.

The others- Christian Lundgaard (18th), David Malukas ((21st), Callum Ilott (24th), and Devlin DeFrancesco (25th) had contact or mechanical issues. Lundgaard was the only other rookie running at the finish.

Scott Dixon

Dixon has been relatively invisible this season. He started 16th and finished sixth, a decent day for anyone, but below par for a six time champion. Dixon sits fifth in points, but it has been a very quiet fifth. It has been almost a year since Dixon won a race.

Disappointing Days

Besides Herta and Rossi, Scott McLaughlin, Marcus Ericsson, and Simon Pagenaud had hopes for better results.

McLaughlin’s troubles began after two laps of the warmup, when a cracked header ended his practice time. The engine was replaced. He spun exiting the hairpin and recovered to finish 14th but slipped to second in the point standings.

Marcus Ericsson, whom I expected to contend for the win today, spun on lap 66 while fighting for third place and ended up parked in a runoff area for the rest of the day. He will be back and should get a win sometime this year.

Simon Pagenaud did some flower gardening around the fountain and ended the race in 19th. After a promising stat to the weekend on Friday when he led the first practice, Pagenaud seemed to lose some steam with each session. I am puzzled by what I have seen from Meyer Shank Racing this year. I thought they would be much better.

The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach was a success. It returned to its traditional spot on the calendar, drew huge crowds each day, and produced a great race. I will have a weekend wrap up in the morning before heading back to Indy. Thank you all for following along this weekend.

Herta Tops Warm Up; McLaughlin Engine Issue

Colton Herta had the fastest lap in this mirrning’s warmup session for this afternoon’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. Scott Dixon led most of the session before Herrta put down his quick lap, the only lap in 1:05 range.

Points leader Scott McLaughlin crew discovered a broken header after just two laps and they are changing the engine.

The practice had just one red flag. With about eight minutes left

Graham Rahat slid and his rear wing had slight contact with the wall.

The results:

Race Day at Long Beach

Can Alexander Rossi become a three time Long Beach winner today?

Today’s Schedule

Sunday, April 10, 2022- All Times Pacific

7:30 AM Spectator Gates Open
9:00 AM – 9:30 AM INDYCAR Warm Up-Peacock
10:45 AM – 11:05 AM Historic IMSA GTP Challenge Race #2
11:10 AM – 11:20 AM Acura NSX Hot Laps
11:25 AM – 11:40 AM Mothers Exotic Car Parade
11:45 AM INDYCAR Pre Race

NOON- NBC coverage begins
12:05 PM INDYCARS to Grid
12:29 PM “Drivers To Your Cars”
12:38 PM “Drivers Start Your Engines
12:45 PM – 3:00 PM ACURA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH (Race #3 of the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series – 85 Laps) NBC; Post race show on Peacock to follow
3:30 PM – 4:00 PM Stadium SUPER Trucks Race #2
4:20 PM – 5:00 PM Porsche Carrera Cup Race #2

Good morning from Long Beach. The weather looks perfect for racing.

Temperature should be 61 degrees for the morning warmup and 65 degrees at the green flag. Cool conditions make for great racing, right?

Race organizers expect a very large crowd today. Yesterday’s attendance was substantial.

The first four starting spots represent four different teams. The race will come down to strategy, depending on how many caution periods occur. I do not expect a caution free race.

Jimmie Johnson still plans to drive today. We’ll see what happens after the warmup.

Bourdais, Ganassi Win IMSA Race

Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van Der Zende won yesterday’s IMSA race in a Chip Ganassi Racing. Cadillac prototype. Bourdais started on the pole, but 30 minutes into the race he went wide trying to pass a GT car exiting the hairpin. The incident put the team last in class, but they came back to win the event.

LBGP- A Community Event

I said since my first trip to Long Beach that one of the reaLBGP- A Community Eventsons this race id the premier street race is the amount of community buy-in. I was reminded of this yesterday.

I decided to try a new place for breakfast. The dry erase board at the door said race crew members can get certain drinks for $1. It is the little things like this that make a street race a success.

Enjoy the race. I will have a brief report after the warmup, and race story will be out very late tonight in the East, possibly not until tomorrow morning.

Long Beach Qualifying Wrap-up

Photo: Alex Palou will start third Sunday. He had a quiet day, but like 2021, he snuck into the mix.

Just a few more thoughts about qualifying today.

Felix Rosenqvist backed up his pole at Texas by getting into the Fast Six. He has always been a decent qualifier, but he seems to have become a very good qualifier. Rosenqvist needs to get some good race results.

Will Power and Scott McLaughlin have their worst starting positions of the year, seventh and ninth. Power is still in search of four more poles to tie Mario Andretti for career poles. He won just one pole last year.

Keep an eye on Marcus Ericsson. He fell to eighth today. I thought he had a shot at the pole. Ericsson is still on a roll from his two wins in 2021. He may be a factor in the race.

Kyle Kirkwood advanced to round two. Kirkwood has qualified decently and raced very well. He has gotten the most out of the 14 car. A lot of the car’s improvement is a credit to Kirkwood’s talent. I wonder how much of a contribution Sebastien Bourdais made to the team last year. I’m guessing he also has a lot to do with Kirkwood’s performance.

What happened to the Meyer Shank cars? Simon Pagenaud led Friday’s practice and was strong in this morning’s session. Helio Castroneves looked as if he might also be in the mix. Pagenaud will start 10th and Castroneves 14th.

The Andretti team had a very good day, perhaps its best of the season, but still it could have been much better. Romain Grosjean was on track to win the pole until he stuffed into the tires. Alexander Rossi was caught out by the red flag, then had to take the runoff route on the final timed lap. They are still the team to beat and have the potential to have three cars in the top five tomorrow.

Pato O’Ward has been my biggest disappointment this season. Two poor finishes, badly executed pit stops, and mediocre qualifying is not the mark of someone expected to compete for the championship. He can get a decent result from his 11th starting position, and he needs a top 10 finish.

Jimmie Johnson plans to race to race tomorrow in spite of his fractured hand. His incidents today in practice and qualifying seemed to stem from the injury. I assume a final decision will come after the morning warmup. It might be in his best interests to sit out the race, The irony is that Johnson didn’t run ovals last season because he was concerned about injuries. He sustains an injury on a street course.

Eleven drivers beat the old track record which had stood since 2017. Five drivers had laps in the 1:05 range. I believe Romain Grosjean was also in that time frame, but his times were erased with the red flag.

Look for my Sunday preview tomorrow morning. Thanks for following along this weekend.

Herta on Pole as Andretti Continues Long Beach Mastery

Tomorrow’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach will begin just where the 2021 race stopped-Colton Herta will lead the field to green flag followed by Josef Newgarden. In a qualifying session which the previous track record shredded to bits, Herta set the new mark of 1:05.3.

Herta and his Andretti Autosport teammates asserted the perennial dominance the team has has had since 2018. Alexander Rossi won the race in 2018 and 2019 from the pole. Herta won here last fall and now has added the pole.

Newgarden did not lead Team Penske in either of the practices, but came on strong during qualifying. Neither Will Power nor Scott McLaughlin advanced to the Fast Six. McLaughlin will be absent from the first row for the first time this season.

Meyer Shank Racing.lookred very strong in practice, but neither Simon Pagenaud nor Helio Castroneves advanced to the final round.

Romain Grosjean led the final practice and appeared to be on his way to the pole. He ran his car into the tire barrier, bringing out a red flag with just two seconds left in the session. The incident moved him to sixth place. The five remaining cars had an opportunity for one more timed lap

Only Felix Rosenqvist and Rosdi took advantage of the time. Rossi’s attempt ended as needed to use the runoff area. Rosenqvisy did not improve.

Qualifying results. Note-Devlin DeFrancesco will start 23rd tomorrow as he serves a six grid place penalty. I will have more thoughts on the day later this evening.

Herta on Pole as Andretti Continues Long Beach Mastery

Tomorrow’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach will begin just where the 2021 race stopped-Colton Herta will lead the field to green flag followed by Josef Newgarden. In a qualifying session which the previous track record shredded to bits, Herta set the new mark of 1:05.3.

Herta and his Andretti Autosport teammates asserted the perennial dominance the team has has had since 2018. Alexander Rossi won the race in 2018 and 2019 from the pole. Herta won here last fall and now has added the pole.

Newgarden did not lead Team Penske in either of the practices, but came on strong during qualifying. Neither Will Power nor Scott McLaughlin advanced to the Fast Six. McLaughlin will be absent from the first row for the first time this season.

Meyer Shank Racing.lookred very strong in practice, but neither Simon Pagenaud nor Helio Castroneves advanced to the final round.

Romain Grosjean led the final practice and appeared to be on his way to the pole. He ran his car into the tire barrier, bringing out a red flag with just two seconds left in the session. The incident moved him to sixth place. The five remaining cars had an opportunity for one more timed lap

Only Felix Rosenqvist and Rosdi took advantage of the time. Rossi’s attempt ended as needed to use the runoff area. Rosenqvisy did not improve.

Qualifying results. Note-Devlin DeFrancesco will start 23rd tomorrow as he serves a six grid place penalty. I will have more thoughts on the day later this evening.

Grosjean Leads Practice as Track Record Demolished- Update with Time Sheet

Romain Grosjean led an Andretti/Meyer Shank attack on the track record in morning practice for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

The top six were below the track record.

Andretti Autosport cars took three of the top four spots. Meyer Shank Racing has a technical alliance with Andretti.

I would still not discount pole chances for Will Power or Marcus Ericsson.

The session ran clean for the first 30 minutes. Jimmie Johnson had another wall contact bringing out the red flag. Johnson was3 cleared to drive this morning and is still eligible to qualify.

Graham Rahal brought out a red flag for contact. With six minutes remaining, David Malukas hD contact with the outer wall just past the fountain.

This morning ‘s session was the first instance of Indycar’s new practice policy. The schedule allowed 60 min for the 45 minute practice. The clock stopped on the red flags and drivers had the full 45 minutes of green flag running.

Qualifying will be interesting. I will have qualifying groups up in a bit

.