Long Beach- Quick Thoughts on a Most Satisfying Race

Indycar photo by Joe Skibinski

First, congratulations to Kyle Kirkwood on his first Indycar win. Kirkwood has won at every open wheel level. Once he starts winning, he doen’t seem to be able to srop. Indycar is a tougher place to win constantly, but I look for him to get at least one more win this season.

Kirkwood’s first win came in his 20th Indycar race, but his third in a compoetitive ride. As I wrote yesterday that his pole win was just a matter of time, so is this first victory.

The Start

Long Beach is not known for great starts, but today;’s was a particularly bad one. Perhaps Indycar could start single fileon the front stretch, or they could start on I believe it is Pine Street where the cars have room and time to line up.

Pato O’Ward was accused of jumping the start, but my first impression was he was not the only one.

Pato’s Bad Day

It was not the best day for Pato O’Ward, who started the race as the points leader. He was fortunate to only fall to second place. His incident with Dixon, which I thought was similar to the mclaughlin/Grosjean collision in St. Pete, might have warranted a penalty. O’Ward’s spin later in the race, which effectively ended his day. was an unenforced penalty.

O’Ward showed good sportmanship letting the leaders by when he didn’t have to late in the race.

Strategy Hurts Newgarden

Josrf’s Newgarden’s strategy seemed to pay off as he grabbed the lead on lap 22. The yellow for Scott Dixon on lap 20 hurt his long range plan. He ended up ninth, having to save fuel the last stint.

Kirkwood stayed out one more lap before his last stop, and got enough of an edge to get out front.


This was a very good race. Contenders fell back for various reasons, different pit strategies had different outcomes, some not expected, the race ended with a three way battle for the win, with jus two seconds separating the top three at the checkered flag.

There were some great duels throughout the pack. Colton Herta and Alex Palou had a terrific battle for position during the race.

The Rahal Letterman lanigan team had a respectable showing today, finishing 12th, 13th, and 14th. Graham Rahal led the team, followed byJack Harvey and Christian Lundgaard.

Andretti Autosport finished 1, 2 and 4 today. The team has won both street course poles, and they had a shot at winning at St.Pete. They have figured out the street circuits.

No one should be questioning Michael Andretti’s move of Bryan Herta as Kirkwood’s strategist. Herta is the perfect person to work with a young driver,. He coached Alexander rossi to the Indianapolis 500 victory in 2016, and helped Colton to several wins. The Herta/Kirkwood combination could be a title contender by next year.

Morning Warmup- Newgarden Fastest

Joseef Newgarden turned the quickest lap in this morning’s warmupfor this afternoon’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. The Penske driver’s lap came near the end of the session. Pole sitter kyle Kirkwood finished fifth.

The sessio was uneventful and ran in somewhat cool conditions. Race time temperature is expcted to be in the mid 60’s.

The top 10 from the warmup:

Sold Out

The Long Beach Grand Prix Association announced this morning that all reserved grandstand seats have been sold for today’s race. General admission is available at the gate.This is great news.

Long Beach Race Day

Today’s schedule: All times Eastern

There are so many possibilities for the win. I think it will come down to Marcus Ericsson, Romain Grosjean, or Pato O’Ward. As much as I would like to see Kyle Kirkwood win his first race today, I’m not sure he’s ready for that step. I wouldn’t be upset if he proves me wrong, though. The warm up is on Peacock. Race coverage begins at 3 pm Eastern on NBC and Peacock.

I’ll be back after warmup and I hope to have the starting tire choices before the race.

Just a Matter of Time- Kirkwood Takes Long Beach Pole

Indycar photo by Joe Skibinski

As soon as Kyle Kirkwodd and Andretti Autosport announced their deal for 2023, I knew Kirkwood would win a pole and possibly a race this season. The first two races gave me pause, but so far this weekend has restored my faith.

Kirkwood won the pole for tomorrow’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, beating Marcus Ericsson by 0.0375 seconds.he took the lead on his final lap. Kirkwood led the first qualifying group and was third in Round 2. . .

Kirkwood has now won at least one pole on every level of American open wheel racing., beginning with F1600. He is also the first driver to win championships on each level of the Road to Indy. Is his first Indycar victory in the cards for tomorrow? He has stiff competition just in the fast Six, let alone Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin who didn’t advance.


Why did Pato O’Ward not save his tires as his crew requestedon the final hot lap of Round 2? he was secure in the Fast Six. O’Ward was the fastest a;; weeken, but will start sixth.

Andretti Autosport has won the pole at both street races in 2023.

Do not dismiss the chances of the Chip Ganassi racing cars tomorrow. They were in the top 10 all weekend, and Scott Dixon, Marcus ericsson, and Alex palou all made the Fast Six. Ericsson starts second.

If today and esterday are precursors of how the race will go, we could see another yellow filled race.


O’Ward Stays on Top

Pato O’Ward retained first place in practice two at long Beach this morning. O’Ward turned the only lap under1:06 of the the weekend with a 1;05.9982 late in the session.

Three minutes into todays practice Callum Ilott hit a new curb and sailed into the tires. Three minutes after practice resumed, Rinus Veekay had the same thing happen to him. The extra curb was not in place during prctice yesterday. It was removed for the IMSA practice and qualifying. The curb was in place for Indycars in 2022. Drivers were not informed of the curb’s placement before the session began.

Andretti Autosport continues to show speed, with Kyle Kirkwood second, Romain Grosjean third, and Colton Herta fourth.

TScott Dixon led the Ganassi cars in seventh, followed by Marcus Ericsson in eightth and Alex Palou in tenth.

There were several wall brushes and some traffic issues during the practice round, which is not surprising with n27 cars on track. The best moment was Kyle kirkwood giving David malukas the tumbs up for ruining his lap.

“Thank you, Malukas,” Kirkwood said on the radio.


O’Ward Fastest in Friday’s Practice

Today’s schedue”

All times Eastern

11:45-12:45. Practice. 2. Peacock

3:05 pm. Qualifying. Peacock

5 pm-IMSA race USA and Peacock

Pato O’Ward posted the quickest lap in Friday’s first prcatice for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. The session saw a lot of slidin, especiay in the bewly paved areaHel;io Castrnv=eves and Agustin canapino brought out the only red fla when they each stalled in different areas the track at nearly the same time.

Andretti Autosport showed its expected streng with Romain Grosjean and Colton Herta leading at various times. Kyle Kirkwood also had some time in the top five.

In addition to O’ward, Arrow McLaren placed Alexander Rossi seventh and Felix rosenqvist ninth.

Chip Ganassi Racing also had a strong day with Scott Dixon second, Marcus Ericsson fourth, and Alex Palou sixth.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing demonstrated sopme improvement with Christian Lundgaard 10th and Jack harvey 12th. Graham Rahal finished 16th.


Long Beach Preview

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.

Andretti Blues

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.