James Hinchcliffe becomes the second Canadian to claim victory at the Long Beach Grand Prix, winning with Schmidt Peterson Motorsport ahead of championship points leader Sebastien Bourdais, racing for Dale Coyne Racing. The race saw only two cautions, which compared to the chaos of the IMSA race on the streets of Long Beach, California just 24 hours ago made for a much more enjoyable race by the Indycar Series.
The race, for the most part, was one of strategy and decisions on whether to run a two or three stop race. Helio Castroneves from pole position had a poor start, losing the lead almost immediately. The opening lap saw a caution with Will Power and Charlie Kimball getting together in Turn 4, ending Kimball’s race, seeing several cars heading to pit road very early in the race including Sebastien Bourdais, splitting the strategy options.
At the front, Scott Dixon led the early part of the race, through to his pitstop on Lap 16, Dixon’s stop saw Ryan Hunter-Reay take the lead, staying out until Lap 30. Re-joining the race behind Dixon, both running on different strategies. Marco Andretti having issues, stopped in a runoff area on Lap 27, however it didn’t result in a full course caution
Dixon then held the lead through to Lap 41, before handing it back to Hunter-Reay. Through the next pit cycle, Hinch briefly took the lead from Hunter-Reay before heading down pit road.
The battle for the lead was then between Scott Dixon and Josef Newgarden, Newgarden and Dixon pitting just prior to the full course yellow, caused by Alexander Rossi slowing to a halt on track. Helio Castroneves was given a pit speed violation, with the race restarting with 16 to go, and Hinch back at the front of the pack.
Hinch and Hunter-Reay had the clear advantage on the restart to the chasing pack, Bourdais dropped back six seconds from Hunter-Reay, whilst Newgarden and Dixon ended up restarting in traffic, costing them time, as they worked their way back up towards the top 3, Sato slowed on track, in a similar manner to his Andretti Autosport teammate Rossi just a few laps earlier, before disaster struck for Hunter-Reay from 2nd position. Hunter-Reay grounding to a halt on track, therefore making all four Andretti Autosport cars, DNF, three of them within the space of just a few laps.
Hunter-Reay stopping on the track brought out the final caution, with the restart coming with just three laps to go. Hinch positioned the SPM Honda perfectly for the restart, whilst Sebastien Bourdais seemed to be further behind Hinch on the restart procedure then may have been ideal, Josef Newgarden restarted third.
Hinch had a perfect restart, led the field, which stayed green through to the finish, claiming his fourth win since entering the Verizon Indycar Series.
Overall Long Beach provided a good race this year, a race that had plenty of overtaking, strategy choices and plenty of green flag running. The series continues at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. Check out Doug’s ‘Three up, Three down’ article he produces unpacking every Verizon IndyCar Series race, and join us for more of our thoughts, on the Long Beach Grand Prix with Doug and John, on the next episode of FBC Indi.
1. James Hinchcliffe – Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda
2. Sebastien Bourdais – Dale Coyne Racing Honda
3. Josef Newgarden – Team Penske Chevrolet
4. Scott Dixon – Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
5. Simon Pagenaud – Team Penske Chevrolet
6. Ed Jones – Dale Coyne Racing Honda
7. Carlos Munoz – AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet
8. Spencer Pigot – Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
9. Helio Castroneves – Team Penske Chevrolet
10. Graham Rahal – RLL Honda
11. Mikhail Aleshin – Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda
12. JR Hildebrand – Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
13. Will Power – Team Penske Chevrolet
14. Max Chilton – Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
15. Tony Kanaan – Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
16. Conor Daly – AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet
17. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Honda
18. Takuma Sato – Andretti Autosport Honda
19. Alexander Rossi – Andretti Autosport Honda
20. Marco Andretti – Andretti Autosport Honda
21. Charlie Kimball – Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet