Nearly 180,000 people were in attendance on Sunday to watch the 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach; a classic street racing weekend with IndyCar racing as the main course. Briton Mike Conway was the man standing atop the podium once the smoke cleared; the second such visit for him at Long Beach.
Fans were treated to the first standing start of the season from North America’s premiere open-wheel series. Drivers cleanly and professionally followed pole-sitter Ryan Hunter-Reay into Turn 1 while still dicing for position.
26 laps of hard and fast green flag racing followed with Juan Pablo Montoya taking the early honors of the races biggest mover gaining five spots on the field before the first round of pit stops.
Sebastien Bourdais brought out the day’s first two cautions with two very similar trips into the tire barriers in Turn 8 and Turn 10 on laps 27 and 41 respectively.
In an unrelated incident, Will Power pushed Simon Pagenaud wide into the tires on the lap 31 restart. The affable Frenchman was able to make it back to the pits and rejoin the race without too much damage.
Although there was solid action all day up and down the field, it was the Ryan Hunter-Reay show all day long with close and physical driving taking its toll on the rest of the competitors. This rough and tough driving was showcased on lap 55 when Ryan Hunter-Reay made a dive bomb pass attempt on young Josef Newgarden heading into Turn 4.
The ensuing impact not only removed himself and Josef Newgarden from the race, but it also brought out a lengthy cleanup period all while collecting Andretti Autosport teammate James Hinchcliffe, Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth in the incident as well.
The ensuing restart was clean and methodical, similar to the other restarts the field had successfully completed all afternoon.
Justin Wilson and Graham Rahal wound up facing the wrong way on track at different time in the day, with the latter causing the fourth and final full course caution for the day. Charlie Kimball suffered a race ending engine failure on lap 41, while Ryan Briscoe was able to make the best of an electric problem that plagued him all afternoon.
With only two laps to go, then leader Scott Dixon relinquished the point for a final splash of fuel. Mike Conway took over P1 from the pitting New Zealander and drove away from the remaining contenders, bring his Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevy home P1 for Ed Carpenter Racing.
Juan Pablo Montoya had an excellent day gaining 12 spots to finish in P4. All while still not feeling 100 percent with the red option tires or the DW12 chassis used in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
It was another successful race and an even better result for the little team of ECR who notched their second win as a team. The heavy hitters at Andretti, Penske and Ganassi fought themselves and poor judgment all day long, allowing the methodical Conway to sneak in for the win and mixing the usual finishing result.
Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama will host the series in two weeks for the year’s first natural terrain road course.
40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Results
Position – Driver – Engine – Laps Completed – Running/ Reason Out
1 Mike Conway – Chevy – 80 – Running
2 Will Power – Chevy – 80 – Running
3 Carlos Munoz – Honda – 80 – Running
4 Juan Pablo Montoya – Chevy- 80 – Running
5 Simon Pagenaud – Honda- 80 – Running
6 Mikhail Aleshin – Honda- 80 – Running
7 Oriol Servia – Honda- 80 – Running
8 Marco Andretti – Honda- 80 – Running
9 Sebastian Saavedra – Chevy- 80 – Running
10 Carlos Huertas – Honda- 80 – Running
11 Helio Castroneves – Chevy- 80 – Running
12 Scott Dixon – Chevy- 80 – Running
13 Graham Rahal – Honda – 79 – Running
14 Sebastien Bourdais – Chevy – 77 – Running
15 Jack Hawksworth – Honda – 77 – Running
16 Justin Wilson – Honda – 64 – Contact
17 Ryan Briscoe – Chevy – 60 – Running
18 Tony Kanaan – Chevy – 55 – Contact
19 Josef Newgarden – Honda – 55 – Contact
20 Ryan Hunter-Reay – Honda – 55 – Contact
21 James Hinchcliffe – Honda – 55 – Contact
22 Takuma Sato – Honda – 55 – Contact
23 Charlie Kimball – Chevy – 41– Off Course
Results Courtesy of INDYCAR
Photo Copyright Owner John Cote
Report by Eric Hall