Saturday at Long Beach

Today’s Schedule:

Saturday, April 9, 2022-All Times Pacific

7:30 AM Spectator Gates Open
8:45 AM – 9:45 AM INDYCAR Practice #2-Peacock
9:55 AM – 10:15 AM HMSA Qualifying
10:20 AM – 10:35 AM IMSA Series Pit Set Up
10:45 AM – 11:25 AM Porsche Carrera Cup Race #1
11:00 AM – 11:30 AM IMSA WeatherTech Championship Autograph Session (IMSA Paddock – free to all spectators)
12:05 PM – 1:20 PM INDYCAR Qualifying & FIRESTONE FAST 6Peacock
1:30 PM – 2:00 PM Commence IMSA Pre-Race
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM Start of IMSA Sportscar Grand Prix of Long Beach (100 min)
4:30 PM – 5:00 PM Stadium SUPER Trucks Race #1
5:15 PM – 5:35 PM Historic IMSA GTP Challenge Race #1
6:00 PM Acura and ELS Present Saturday Concert Starring Royal Machines w/special guests (Terrace Plaza in front of the Long Beach Performing Arts Center)
6:00 PM – 6:20 PM Super Drift Practice
6:30 PM – 8:00 PM Formula D Super Drift Challenge Competition #2

Three news items from Friday.

First, Indycar has assessed a six place grid penalty to Devlin DeFrancesco for avoidable contact during the EXPEL 375 at Texas. DeFrancesco was deemed to be at fault in all three caution periods.

Devlin DeFrancesco

I’m glad Indycar has taken this step. This action sets a good example of the conduct expected of drivers.

DeFrancesco was 25th in Friday’s practice. If he qualifies there, it won’t be much of a penalty. I have not known Indycar to carry over grid penalties to the following race.

Following yesterday’s practice, Jimmie Johnson did not appear at the autograph session. He posted the following video to Twitter.

https://twitter.com/JimmieJohnson/status/1512598067366678529?t=gCxjMo4bjwUSsBNVAL0oog&s=19

Johnson apparently suffered the injury when he hit the tire barrier during practice. It sounds like Johnson will be reevaluated in the morning before practice. If he is not cleared to drive, Ganassi has a pretty good substitute who is in Long Beach for IMSA.-some guy named Bourdais.

NBC announced that Peacock will again have an untimed post-race show on Sunday immediately after the NBC broadcast ends. I could get used to this.

Track Record in Jeopardy?

Simon Pagenaud’s time was within one second of the track record, set by Helio Castroneves in 2017. Today’s cooler temperatures and using the red alternate tires could result in a new speed mark for the Long Beach track.

A sleeper pick for pole is Marcus Ericsson. Ericsson led much of the first half of practice yesterday.

Friday Report

Attendance was big at the first day of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. I’m sure empty grandstands were noticeable on Peacock. Most people spent the day inside the convention center to avoid the near 100 degree temperatures. Today the high should be around 72 degrees and for race we are looking at 68 degrees for a high.

The numerous displays in the convention center range from auto manufacturers to car accessories to home and health products. The center is a massive building. It was nice to have the option of being inside to avoid the extreme heat.

I stumbled upon a fan Q& A with the drivers from A. J. Foyt Racing.

From left: Dalton Kellett, Tatiana Calderon, Kyle Kirkwood

The line for the autograph session stretched around the corner. I wonder how big it would have been had fans known Jimmie Johnson would not be htere.

I had forgotten how much walking is required at this track. I am enjoying being back here, and I hope to get back one more time. If you live in the East, this is not a race you would want to do annually.

I will close with a few shots of on track action. the cars are entering turn 9.

Alexander Rossi leads Romain Grosjean and Dalton Kellett
Marcus Ericsson could be in contention for the pole today.
Pato O’Ward, Helio Castroneves

Back later with reports on morning practice and qualifying.

Pagenaud Tops Disjointed Practice

Simon Pagenaud led the first practice for the Acura Grand prix of Long Beach this afternoon with a lap 1:07.1991edging Alexander Rossi by 0,402 seconds. Scott McLaughlin, looking to keep his run of front row starts for 2021 intact, was third, just seven hundredths behind Rossi. Pagenaud’s time is less than a second slower than the track record of 1:05.2254.

Drivers were surprised at the grip level.

“We were all surprised by the level of grip we had already,” 2021 series champion Alex Palou said. “On the first timing lap, we were doing 69 (1:09), 68 (1:08). It was really grippy. I don’t know if it’s all the rubber from the tires from the other series or just the heat, but it’s super nice to drive. We’re enjoying every lap.”

The temperature was in the upper 90s for the session, and the temperature tomorrow is expected to be in the low 70s. The speed will probably be there, but we might see different cars up front.

Jimmie Johnson brought out the first of two red flags when he bottomed while crossing a curb on the inside of Turn 5, launching his car nose-first into the tire barrier.

Dalton Kellett spun in his No. 4 K-LINE/AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet with about 15 minutes left in the session in Turn 5 and backed lightly into the tire barrier.

Pato O’Ward clipped the wall and limped back to the pits. He returned late in the session.

The time sheet:

I will have more about the day at Long Beach in my Saturday preview tomorrow morning.

Long Beach Preview-Teams on the Edge

Today’s Scehdule:

Friday, April 8, 2022- All Times Pacific

7:30 AM Spectator Gates Open
7:45 AM – 8:25 AM Porsche Carrera Cup (PCC) Practice #1
9:15 AM – 10:15 AM IMSA Practice #1
10:30 AM – 10:50 AM Historic IMSA GTP Challenge (GTP) Practice #1
11:05 AM – 11:35 AM PCC Practice #2
12:40 PM – 1:00 PM Stadium SUPER Trucks (SST) Practice #1
1:15 PM – 3:00 PM IMSA Practice #2
3:15 PM – 4:15 PM INDYCAR Practice #1Peacock
4:30 PM – 5:00 PM PCC Qualifying
4:55 PM – 5:55 PM INDYCAR Autograph Session (INDYCAR Paddock – free to all spectators)
5:10 PM – 5:55 PM IMSA Qualifying
6:30 PM – 6:50 PM Super Drift Practice
7:00 PM – 8:30 PM Formula D Super Drift Challenge Competition #1

Good morning from beautiful, very warm Long Beach. The temperature is forecast to be in the mid 90s today before cooling down for the weekend.

The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach returns to its traditional April date on the NTT Indycar Series calendar after moving to the season finale in 2021. Sunday’s race will be the 38th Indycar race on the streets of Long Beach, Formula 5000 held the first street race here in1975, followed by F1 until 1983. At that point, the Grand Prix Association decided F1 was too expensive and signed with CART to keep the annual event running. The pandemic year of 2020 was the only year there was no race here,

The Indycar paddock enters the third race of the season with two teams, Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing, filling the top of the points standings. Penske drivers Scott McLaughlin and Josef Newgarden have won the first two races. Defending series champion Alex Palou sits third behind Penske’s Will Power. Palou is just ahead of Newgarden. Two team which were expected to also challenge for first place have been noticeably absent.

Can Andretti and AMSP Rebound?

Andretti Autosport, perennially a factor in the title hunt, has been the victim of some bad luck and strategy this season. Colton Herta leads the team at seventh in the standings, The addition of Romain Grosjean was expected to strengthen the team, but the results haven’t been there yet.

Sunday’s race may help the team get back on track. Andretti cars and drivers have dominated this track the last four years. Alexander Rossi won this race back to back in 2018 and 2019. Herta won the season final last September. Sunday is Andretti’s best chance to begin the return to contention. I think they will have a good weekend,

AMSP Tries to Turn Season Around

The high hopes some fans had for the Arrow McLaren SP squad have not panned out. Felix Rosenqvist’s pole at Texas has been the high point of the year, but the joy of that moment faded before the end of the opening lap. Bad pit stops by Rosenqvist and Pato O’Ward spoiled their races. Another bad weekend will make it difficult for either driver to get back into title consideration.

The team has had some decent street course results, and this weekend is almost a must to get a top five.

Harvey Returns

Jack Harvey sat out the Texas race after suffering a concussion in a hard crash at Texas. Harvey has been an enigma since joining the Indycar series. he is a talented driver, but has produced just one podium in his career, I thought the switch to a stringer team would help him, but we are still waiting for some good results.

The Race

Colton Herta has won the last three races in California, dating back to his 2019 victory at Laguna Seca. I think he will find a way to win again, and Rossi and Grosjean will also have good weekends.

Once a driver falls behind in points, it is difficult to catch up.

Newgarden, McLaughlin, Power, Palou, and Dixon will be chasing Herta and all will help their positions in the points.

Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach Fast Facts


 Race weekend: Friday, April 8 – Sunday, April 10
Track: 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street course (clockwise) in Long Beach, California
Race distance: 85 laps / 167.28 miles
Push-to-pass parameters: 200 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 20 seconds per activation.
Firestone tire allotment: Six sets primary, four sets alternate. Rookie drivers are allowed one extra primary set for Practice 1.
Twitter: @GPLongBeach @INDYCAR, #AGPLB, #INDYCAR
Event website: www.gplb.com
INDYCAR website: www.INDYCAR.com
2021 race winner: Colton Herta (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda)
2021 NTT P1 Award: Josef Newgarden (No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet), 1:08.2241, 103.846 mph
Qualifying lap record: Helio Castroneves, 1:06.2254, 106.980 mph, April 8, 2017
NBC Sports race telecast: 3 p.m. (ET) Sunday, April 10, NBC (live). Leigh Diffey is the play-by-play announcer for NBC’s coverage of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, alongside analysts Townsend Bell and James Hinchcliffe. Marty Snider, Dave Burns and Kevin Lee are the pit reporters.
Peacock Premium Live Streaming: All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice sessions and qualifying will stream live on Peacock Premium, NBC’s direct-to-consumer livestreaming product. NBC’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach race telecast will be simulcast on the streaming service, while Peacock Premium’s exclusive post-race show – featuring driver interviews, podium ceremonies and post-race analysis – will be streamed following the race.
INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Davey Hamilton and turn announcers Nick Yeoman, Jake Query and Michael Young. Ryan Myrehn and Joel Sebastianelli are the pit reporters. The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach race and all NTT INDYCAR SERIES practices and qualifying sessions air live on network affiliates, SiriusXM 160, racecontrol.indycar.com and the INDYCAR App powered by NTT DATA.
At-track schedule (all times local):
Friday, April 8
3:15-4:15 p.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice 1 (45-minute session), Peacock Premium (live)
Saturday, April 9
8:45-9:45 a.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice 2 (45-minute session), Peacock Premium (live)
12:05 p.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award (three rounds of knockout qualifying), Peacock Premium (live)
Sunday, April 10
9-9:30 a.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES warmup, Peacock Premium (live)
Noon – Driver introductions
Noon – NBC on air
12:38 p.m. – Start engines command
12:45 p.m. – Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach (85 laps/167.28 miles), NBC and Peacock Premium (live)
Race Notes:
This weekend’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach will mark the 38th INDYCAR SERIES event on the historic Long Beach street circuit. Mario Andretti won the first INDYCAR SERIES race there in 1984. Colton Herta won the race in 2021.
There have been two winners in two races in 2022 – Scott McLaughlin (St. Petersburg) and Josef Newgarden (Texas). The last time Team Penske won the first three races of an INDYCAR SERIES season was in 2012 when Helio Castroneves (St. Petersburg) and Will Power (Barber, Long Beach and Sao Paulo) claimed wins in the first four races. Since 2012, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES has averaged just under nine different race winners per season, including a record-tying 11 winners in 2014. There were nine different winners in the 16 races of 2021, with equally tight competition projected for this season.
There have been seven different winners in the last 10 NTT INDYCAR SERIES races (Marcus Ericsson, Pato O’Ward, Alex PalouJosef Newgarden, Will Power, Colton Herta and Scott McLaughlin). The only repeat winners in that stretch are Newgarden (Mid-Ohio and WWT Raceway in 2021 and Texas in 2022), Palou (Road America and Portland in 2021) and Herta (Laguna Seca and Long Beach in 2021).
Three California natives are entered: 2021 Long Beach race winner Colton Herta hails from Valencia while Andretti Autosport teammate and 2018 and 2019 Long Beach race winner Alexander Rossi is a native of Nevada City. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Jimmie Johnson is from El Cajon.
Herta has won the last three INDYCAR SERIES races held in the Golden State (Laguna Seca 2019, Laguna Seca 2021 and Long Beach 2021).
Al Unser Jr. has won the most times at Long Beach (six). Will Power and Alexander Rossi are the only entered drivers with multiple wins. Power won in 2008 and 2012, and Rossi won in 2018 and 2019. Other former race winners scheduled to compete are Helio Castroneves (2001), Takuma Sato (2013), Scott Dixon (2015), Simon Pagenaud (2016) and Colton Herta (2021).
Five drivers have won the race from the pole – Mario Andretti (1984, 1985 and 1987), Al Unser Jr. (1989-90), Helio Castroneves (2001), Sebastien Bourdais (2006-07) and Alexander Rossi (2018-19).
Twenty-one of the 26 drivers entered have competed in INDYCAR SERIES races at Long Beach. Will Power has 15 starts, most among all entered drivers.
Ten entered drivers have led laps: Helio Castroneves 194, Power 170, Alexander Rossi 151, Scott Dixon 104, Takuma Sato 67, Simon Pagenaud 54, Colton Herta 43, Josef Newgarden 22, Graham Rahal 4 and Jack Harvey 1.
Six NTT INDYCAR SERIES rookies – Tatiana Calderon, Devlin DeFrancesco, Callum Ilott, Kyle Kirkwood, Christian Lundgaard and David Malukas – are expected to compete. All but Ilott will be making their first INDYCAR SERIES start on the Streets of Long Beach.
Milestones: Alexander Rossi will attempt to make his 100th NTT INDYCAR SERIES start … Scott Dixon will attempt to make his 291st consecutive start, the second-longest streak in INDYCAR SERIES history.

Long Beach 2008- Champ Car’s Final Race

My friend Sally, who gave me the three Hulman glasses, also gave me a box of old Long Beach programs. I have a couple of Indianapolis 500 programs, and I find the programs from other races fascinating.

The programs provide a glimpse of local culture and lets fans see how other races are run. The better programs also provide some history of the race. I find that part of a program invaluable, especially for the races that have run for the longest time. The King Beach programs don’t disappoint in that area.

The program for the 2008 race caught my eye. The race was to be Champ Car’s last race, and coincide with the Champ Car drivers’ first IRL points paying race. IRL and Champ Car had agreed to merge in February 2008, and the Long Beach weekend would have the last separate races for the two series. The IRL raced Motegi, Japan on Saturday, April 19, and Champ Car’s last race took place the following afternoon. Drivers could only race in one of the races.

Champ Car Tribute

The program pays tribute to Champ Car with the feature “Champ Car’s Last Hurrah. CART began racing at Long Beach in 1984. Formula 1 had become too expensive for the Grand Prix Association.

Jim Michaelian, Long Beach Grand Prix President, concludes that

“Just like back in 1984, we’re not going to miss a beat. There will be more world -class racing in store when the Indy racing League(IRL)-which includes many drivers who battled it out on our streets-makes its debut…next year.”

Sebastian Bourdais winning the 2007 Long Beach Grand Prix

The weekend included Formula Atlantics and ALMS. The Atlantics race had Jonathan Bomarito on pole with Simona De Silvestro also on the front row. James Hinchcliffe started 10th, and Dane Cameron started 11th.

IN ALMS, Dario Franchitti and Bryan Herta teamed up in an LMP2 Acura.

All series seem to get equal coverage in the program. The Champ Car driver features are divided by teams, which makes it easy to find a favorite driver.

Starting Lineup

A bonus I love finding in an old program is the starting grid sheet. This one is a treasure as it marks the end of a series. Most of the drivers did drive in the IRL at some point in their career. Will Power and Graham Rahal are the only two drivers still active in Indycar.

Power won the race. His photo from the 2008 program:

I am glad I have this program. It is arguably one of the four most important programs in Long Beach Grand Prix history. The others are the first F1 race, the CART race, and the first IRL race.

This weekend marks the 38th Indycar race at Long Beach, the longest running Indycar outside of the Indianapolis 500.

Long Beach Extended Through 2028

Indycar photo by Chris Owens

I’m finally settled in winter headquarters after a journey that took a bit longer than expected. We just missed cold temperatures in Indianapolis and passed Nashville just before their big snowstorm. Now on to the big news of the week.

The Long Beach City Council approved the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach through 2028. This is an unusually long extension and shows how much the city appreciates Indycar’s presence as part of the community. The council’s action should permanently put to rest the attempts to by groups wanting Formula 1 to return to the venue.

2022 will mark 47 years of racing on the streets of Long Beach. The first race, a Formula 5000 event founded by Chrism Pook and Dan Gurney in 1975, became a staple of F1 from 1976 through 1983. In 1984, CART began racing on the downtown streets. Indycar in its various sanctions has raced there ever since, until the pandemic halted the race in 2020. The race returned last year with the title deciding event in the fall. In 2022 the race returns to its traditional April slot. After the 2028 race, Indycar will have raced at Long Beach 45 times, making it the third oldest event in series history, I believe, Behind Indianapolis and Milwaukee. 2025 will be the 50th race of some form on the street circuit.

Added Action

The usually busy Long Beach weekend just got a bit busier. Indycar IMSA, Porsche Cup, and Stadium Super Trucks will be joined by the Historic IMSA GTP Challenge, a vintage sportscar prototype series. I am excited to see these cars, which have never raced at Long Beach. Track time will be at a premium April 8-10.

Long Beach Thoughts- A Race that Reflected the Season

As races at Long Beach go, today was one of the better ones. Yellows forced pit strategy, the winning pass came on the track, and there was early doubts as to who would win the championship. Hometown driver Colton Herta won the race after starting 14th. He should have won pole yesterday, but a mistake in qualifying pushed him back on the grid.

Herta led every session except for qualifying. He held off Josef Newgarden on the last restart to win by 0.5883 seconds. The sad thing about eing the winner of the last race of the year is that no one cares. It is a shame in this instance. Herta grew up in Southern California and first went to this race when he was 2 years old to watch his father Bryan race. Winning here is very special for him, but everyone focused on seris champion Alex Palou.

Herta will have to win here next April when the 2022 edition of the Long Beach Grand Prix runs. Don’t bet against him. He won California this year.

9/26/2021 Photo by Chris Owens, Indycar

A Deserving Champion

Alex Palou won the NTT Indycar series championship with consistent driving and an unflappable focus. he reminds me of Scott Dixon in his approach to a race. I don’t think this will be the last of his titles. I will have more on him tomorrow.

Random Thoughts

Ed Jones had been racing well the last few weeks, but today we the Jones of old. I was concerned after qualifying yesterday when I saw that he would line up between title contenders Pato O’Ward and Alex Palou. Unfortunately, he ended O’Ward’s race and the chain reaction nearly took Palou out of the race. Jones seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time more often than not.

I have never seen so much tension and anger in the paddock as I did this weekend. I loved it. Indycar felt alive. I hope the tension continues all season in 2022.

Three drivers I felt for today- Pato O’Ward, who didn’t get a fair shot to fight for the championship. This team will be even stronegr next year and O’Ward will be in the title mix as long as he drives in the series.

Romain Grosjean, an instant fan favorite from the moment he started his Indycar career this spring, felled by wall contact and dropped out of the race with 10 laps left. He had some amazing races this year, and while not officially the Rookie of the Year, he was the first timer that was the most fun to watch.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, whose last drive for Andretti Autosport ended as the last car running at the end. Hunter-Reay was involved in the Ed Jones incident on lap1 and struggled with a poor handling car the rest of the day.

Sebastien Bourdais recovered from an early spin to finish eighth in what may have been his last drive for A. J. Foyt Racing.

Photo by Chris Owens, Indycar

Congratulations to Scott McLaughlin, the Rookie of the Year. McLaughlin had a steady, if unspectacular year. Like the other rookies in the series, he had to learn a completely different type of car. I think we will hear his name a lot more in 2022.

I hope the new deal with NBC doesn’t include Rutledge Wood. His pieces are insipid and interrupt the race broadcast unnecessarily.

Josef Newgarden’s last three seasons- Champion in 2019, second in 2020, and second in 2021. Newgarden was also champion in 2017.

Thanks for following along this weekend. I will have a story about Alex Palou’s season and a season wrap up this coming week.

Newgarden’s Pole Keeps Slim Hopes In Play

Some quick thoughts on a wild qualifying session:

I hope the PA was playing the Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive” as Josef Newgarden won the pole for tomorrow’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach is to earn the maximum 54 points. He got the first one of those today. he still needs Palou to finish near the back of the field. Palou can still win the championship no matter what Newgarden does by finishing as low as 23rd. Newgarden holds the tie breaker over Palou of more second places. If Newgarden wins tomorrow the two drivers will each have three victories.

The qualifying session was appropriately unpredictable way to put a cap on an unpredictable season. There have been some dramatic qualifying days this year. Today was off the charts.

Pato O’Ward’s chances for the title are hurt a bit by his not winning the pole. He will start eighth, two spots ahead of Palou.

Where did Helio Castroneves come from? The four time Indianapolis 500 winner may have given us a preview of 2022. Castroneves held the top spot in the Fast Six until the last lap, when Newgarden and Dixon both beat his time.

If there is any consolation for Palou, it is that he hasn’t had two bad days in a row all season. The team struggled all day in practice, and they went into qualifying not knowing what they had.

Simon Pagenaud is ending his time with Team Penske on a good note. He has qualified well in the last two races.

Hats off to the crew of Will Power’s car. After his huge collision with Jack Harvey at the end of Round 1, they got the car running for Round 2.

Indycar has to review incidents and timing faster. Two rounds had unnecessary lengthy delays. It seemed to me O’Ward and Palou were the only two cars that slowed down for Power’s incident, but i agree that Palou was too far behind to advance. O’Ward, I felt, should have made the Fast Six.

I didn’t understand what Colton Herta’s strategy was, but it wasn’t the correct one. It’s puzzling what happened to him and Alexander Rossi.

If Romain Grosjean can keep his car off the walls tomorrow, he may be a factor in the race.

The starting lineup: