RaceSchool.com Podcast Josef Newgarden Interview

Josef Newgarden is a two-time NTT IndyCar Series Champion and a former Indy Lights Champion. He sat on the pole for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach in September 2021 and finished second. This year (2022) he qualified second and won the race! After the post-race press conference I walked with him back towards the paddock to grab this interview. He talks about his Indy Lights experience here, his new crew for 2022 at Team Penske and how he thinks his win at Texas Motor Speedway will help him going into Indy. Newgarden is on a roll. Enjoy!

NOTE: By winning at Road America on June12th, Newgarden captured the $1 million PeopleReady Force for Good Challenge bonus. The Challenge rewards the first driver to win on all three types of circuits – oval, street and road tracks – in 2022. The $1 million is split, with $500,000 going to Team Penske and Newgarden and $500,000 donated to Newgarden’s two chosen charities - SeriousFun Children’s Network and Wags and Walks Nashville.

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason

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Josef Newgarden looks confident waving to the fans just before the start of the 2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

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Newgarden attaches the HANS device straps to his helmet before getting into his Penske Chevrolet in Long Beach. Although the basic helmet design has remained the same, the colors have hanged during the 2022 season (as seen at Road America in June).

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Two-time NTT IndyCar Series Champion Josef Newgarden is aiming to add another star to his sleeve at the end of the year that would define him as a three-time champ.

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Part of being fast is pushing the limits of adhesion. Coming into the pits during Friday practice, you can see where Newgarden scuffed the floor and white-walled his right-front tire on the unforgiving concrete barriers that line the Long Beach circuit.

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A full crowd enjoys the action (and food and drink) while watching Josef Newgarden steer his way towards victory at the 2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

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Newgarden pushes hard on his way to victory in the 2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. Notice how his right rear tire (specifically) is shredding over the coarse pavement.

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Newgarden enters the world famous hairpin (Turn 11) on Shoreline Drive in the city streets of Long Beach on his way to Victory Lane.

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Winning any race will always bring a shout for joy, but winning in Long Beach is even better for Newgarden especially after his Indy Lights experience here.

Interview and photos Copyright © by Larry Mason

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RaceSchool.com Podcast Marcus Ericsson, Part 2

Marcus Ericsson won two races in 2021 and so far this year, the biggest race in the world – the Indianapolis 500! We spent some time chatting before Indy this year during the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend. In Part 1, he talked about his injury at the Grand Prix last year and his preparation coming into the new season. Here in Part 2, we focus exclusively on the Indy 500. He talks about his first laps ever at the Speedway and also what it’s like to qualify there using the tools within the cockpit. Enjoy! 

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason

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Marcus Ericsson’s smile grew much bigger after winning “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” – the Indy 500!

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This car (minus the road course wings and Firestone Reds) is what took Ericsson on his 500 mile journey into the record books as an Indy 500 winner.

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Marcus Ericsson has a great sponsor in Huski Chocolate. Currently only available for retail sale in Sweden and Norway, hopefully his American fans can enjoy the drink stateside soon.

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This is pretty much the view (minus the Firestone Reds and the road course wings) that Pato O’Ward had for the last couple of laps of the 2022 Indy 500.

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Ericsson made that two thumbs up after winning Indy and his $3.1 million share of a record purse of over $16 million!

Interview and photos by Larry Mason

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RaceSchool.com Podcast Marcus Ericsson, Part 1

Your 2022 Indianapolis 500 Champion, Marcus Ericsson, spent some time chatting with us before Indy this year during the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend. In this conversation he talks about what happened with the shunt at the AGPLB last year and what he’s done in the offseason to prepare to make 2022 another winning season with a shot at the championship. He also previews the Indy 500 and how his preparation is enhanced by his teammates and experience. He is as nice and unassuming as you’ll find in the IndyCar paddock and is now an Indy 500 winner. Enjoy!

NOTE: He crashed out in this year’s AGPLB with 19 laps to go when he got sideways between Turns 4 and 5 and ended up parking his damaged race car in the worker’s compound in almost the same spot as last year. He started the month of May off well with a fourth place finish on the Indianapolis road course. In Part 2 of the interview, you’ll hear details about what it’s like to qualify at the Speedway and much more.

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason

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Marcus Ericsson waves to the crowd before the 2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

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Marcus Ericsson makes a quick adjustment to his glasses before hopping into his race car for Friday practice.

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Ericsson pushes hard through Turn 10 during qualifying on Saturday in his immaculately clean race car. In the race photo of Turn 10 below, notice the rubber tire marks and clumps of rubber lodged in his front wings.

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Early in the race, Ericsson has passed Romain Grosjean and Will Power to run in sixth place down Shoreline Drive behind winning drivers (and  a couple of champions) Alexander Rossi (5th), Felix Rosenqvist (4th), Alex Palou (3rd), Josef Newgarden (2nd) and Colton Herta (not shown). 

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Marcus Ericsson hits his apex perfectly around the fountain.

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Using the curbs in Turn 5 is critical to lowering your lap times.

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Ericsson is shown here late in the race leading Romain Grosjean (who is on the Firestone Red alternate tires) but would crash out soon afterwards.

Marcus Turn 4

Ericsson is not the only driver to have made contact with the wall exiting Turn 4. You can see the tire marks on the wall from someone else. Unfortunately, the upcoming contact would put an end to his otherwise strong run.

Interview and photos by Larry Mason

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2022 Indy 500 Preview

Who will win? That’s the million dollar-plus question and payday for the one guy fortunate enough to beat the 32 other competitors at this year’s Memorial Day weekend showdown. After a more than a week of practice and qualifying, there’s no denying that a car from the Ganassi armada of five immaculately prepared cars is certainly a favorite. All five of Chip’s cars qualified within the Top 12. Perhaps the favorite is six-time series champion (and 2008 Indy 500 winner) Scott Dixon who’s had a slow start to the year but showed his strength in practice and especially in qualifying to win the pole with the fastest pole speed ever at the Brickyard with a speed of 234.046 mph in his PNC Bank Dallara Honda. His teammate (and last year’s series champ) Alex Palou will start in the middle of row one flanked by Rinus VeeKay from Ed Carpenter Racing in his Chevy powered Dallara. 

It’s one thing to go fast with a tow (draft) and another to be fast on your own for four consecutive laps in qualifying. However, it’s going to be the driver with the best car to get through traffic and having flawless pit stops that will put them into a position to challenge for the win at the end of 200 laps. Of course luck can always play its part as well as good old fashioned race strategy. The race day forecast is for plenty of sunshine and a high of 81 degrees.

Two rookies with plenty of racing experience qualified in the Top 12 – Romain Grosjean, the fastest driver in the five-car Andretti Autosport stable, and Jimmie Johnson, another Ganassi entry. Our previous week’s guest on the podcast, Ed Carpenter, proved again that he can put fast cars on the track by qualifying fourth. Pato O’Ward (also in our previous podcast) who got bumped in 2019, qualified seventh this year and is very happy with his race car. He qualified just in front of his teammate Felix Rosenqvist. Where’s Team Penske? They’re in a better place than last year with Will Power being the quickest of their trio starting 11th after being in the last row last year. Two-time winner Takuma Sato will start in 10th for Dale Coyne Racing.

Who will drink the milk on Sunday? There are plenty of drivers who are capable. Can Helio Castroneves win his fifth? Can Joseph Newgarden continue his hot streak and win his first? There are eight former winners in the field and plenty of over-40 veterans versus the ambitious youngsters with stories spread throughout the field. Colton Herta sat on the pole at Long Beach and won on the Indianapolis road course two weeks ago so he’s also riding a strong wave of momentum. It should be another classic day at the Speedway back home again in Indiana. Enjoy!

 

NOTE: The race will be broadcast live on NBC at 8am PDT on Sunday, May29th. For a complete qualifying lineup and spotter’s guide, visit: https://www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com/events/indy500/event-info/live-grid

You can also visit: www.IndyCar.com for additional information.

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason

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Shown in road course trim here (big wings front and rear), Scott Dixon qualified on pole with an all-time Indianapolis pole track record at over 234 mph! Can he convert his fifth pole here to win for the second time?

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If Pato O’Ward has anything to say about it, he’ll take his Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet to his second victory this season and the biggest win of his career!

Photos by Larry Mason

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RaceSchool.com Video Blog/Podcast Ed Carpenter Interview

Ed Carpenter has enjoyed a lot of success at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He’s earned the pole position three times, had five front row starts in seven years, and his team placed three cars in the Firestone Fast 9 in 2019. He won the Indy Lights race at the Brickyard in 2003. Carpenter also has three wins at other tracks in the NTT IndyCar Series. He’s also led a race in 14 of the last 15 years. Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR) always seems to have their cars dialed in to go fast at Indianapolis. Ed took time out of his busy schedule and joined us on a Zoom call interview to talk about what the April open test would mean to their team and how they approach the Speedway for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Without getting into trade secret details, he opens up about aerodynamics and other ways they prepare their cars for the challenge of going fast reliably at Indianapolis. Enjoy!

 

NOTE: It was announced soon after this interview was completed that Paretta Autosport with driver Simona de Silvestro have formed a technical alliance with Ed Carpenter Racing. ECR will supply a car and several crew members to augment Beth Paretta’s team from last year’s Indy 500. They tentatively have three races planned for this year starting in June. Additionally, ECR driver Rinus VeeKay, won the pole at Barber Motorsports Park and finished third. ECR driver Conor Daly qualified in the Firestone Fast Six at the Indianapolis road course two weeks before the “500” and finished fifth – good momentum leading into the “500.”

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason

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Ed Carpenter Racing, Photo credit

Ed Carpenter shows off his new race suit before this year’s Indianapolis 500.

ECR DW12 Indy 500 2022

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Carpenter’s Dallara Chevy is prepped and ready to go – fast!

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Ed Carpenter Racing, Photo credit

Ed Carpenter Racing will be fielding three cars for the Indy 500 in 2022. Could this be the year that one of them visits Victory Circle?

 

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RaceSchool.com Podcast Pato O’Ward Interview

Pato O’Ward came into last year’s 2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach with an outside chance to clinch the championship. After contact early that ultimately led to his car’s retirement; that put a sour note on the ending of an otherwise strong, two-race winning season. In fact, his race wins earned him a McLaren Formula One Team test during the off-season.  Leading into this year’s race, O’Ward had disappointing finishes on the street circuit in St. Pete and on the oval at Texas (where he had a fast car). He was hoping to have better luck here on this picturesque seaside street circuit where he receives a lot of fan support around the track (especially the Mexican fans). We spoke before the race weekend and he shared his thoughts on a number of subjects leading into this race (where he would end up finishing in fifth place). That was good momentum for him going into the remainder of the season. Enjoy!

 

NOTE: In the next race at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, O’Ward would go on to make a decisive pass late in the race and take the victory. He’s now won on a street course, permanent road course and an oval. Keep your eyes on this young lion.

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason

2022 AGPLB Pato wave crop

Pato O’Ward waves to the crowd just minutes before the start of the 2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach where he qualified 11th and would go on to earn a top five finish.

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Pato O’Ward is on a mission this year to earn his first NTT IndyCar Series championship. After a rocky start to the season, things picked up in the right direction at Long Beach.

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Pato O’Ward rockets down Shoreline Drive early in the race. Notice how pristine and clean the car is. Later in the race the massive amount of rubber “marbles” on the track would take its toll on that clean car.

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O’Ward pushed hard in the race to earn his first top five finish of the year. Notice the rubber build up not only on the track but even on the body ramps in front of the rear tires.

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Late in the race, O’Ward’s still pushing hard to gain every position he can. Rubber tire marks makes for a filthy car, yet it always looks better when you have a strong finish.

 Interview and photos Copyright © by Larry Mason

 

 

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RaceSchool.com Podcast Christian Lundgaard Interview

Christian Lundgaard made a very positive impression in the NTT IndyCar Series when he was hired to pilot the Rahal Letterman Lannigan entry at the Indianapolis road course in August 2021 by qualifying fourth quick in his series debut. That drive made a strong enough impression that he was brought on full-time by the RLL team for 2022. At the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, he endured a tough weekend in practice, qualifying, warm-up and the race. We spoke with him on the way from pit lane back to the paddock immediately after the warm-up session and he was frustrated with his qualifying position and pace in the warm-up session. After winning multiple karting championships in Europe, he went on to race cars winning a championship in F4 and winning races in F3, F2 and became an Alpine F1 junior racer. Any driver who’s had that kind of success is certainly not going to be happy when they’re not up front. It’s interesting to hear what he has to say about it. 

NOTE: In the race, he ran out of fuel at pit entry which ultimately put him two laps down at the finish. It was a truly tough weekend.

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason

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Christian Lundgaard ponders with his crew what it’s going to take to find some missing speed.

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Christian Lundgaard waves to the crowd just minutes before the start of the 2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

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Christian Lundgaard shares a fist/wing bump with the Firestone Firehawk. It was a nice positive moment for an otherwise tough weekend.

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Although he was pushing hard in Friday afternoon’s practice session with temps near 100 degrees, Lundgaard could only manage the 21st quickest time.

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Lundgaard’s RLL team was one of many Honda powered teams to run a memorial TE sticker (just under the aeroscreen) as a tribute to long time Honda manager of motorsports public relations, T.E. McHale who was instrumental in numerous Indy car driver’s careers and sadly passed away after an illness.

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Christian Lundgaard leads his teammate Jack Harvey at the start of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. Harvey would go on to have a mildly better day finishing in 15th compared to Lundgaard’s 19th.

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It wasn’t for a lack of pushing hard that kept Lundgaard down in the race results. Here he’s using the curbs and in a four-wheel drift as you can see that his the wheels are mostly pointed straight at the apex of the corner.

2022 AGPLB C Lundgaard T10 crop

Rubber tire marks pelted Lundgaard’s car as he worked hard to finish better than where he started.

Interview and photos by Larry Mason

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Road Trip – Penske Racing Museum

The outside of the Penske Racing Museum fits right in with the local desert scenery. The outside of the Penske Racing Museum fits right in with the local desert scenery.

There are many famous names associated with the Indianapolis 500 – Foyt, Unser, Mears, Andretti and now Castroneves as the latest driver to join the four-time winner’s club. However, one name stands above the rest and that is Penske. Roger Penske and his Penske Racing teams over the years have amassed 18 (as of March 2022) Indy 500 wins. Many of those coming from Unser, Mears and Castroneves. The Penske Racing Museum in Phoenix is a worthwhile stop if you happen to be in the area. Some of the racing car history highlights include: Al Unser’s yellow Cummins/Holset/Miller March 86C that was being used as a show car in the lobby of the Sheraton hotel, when Unser got a late call to race in 1987. The Ford Cosworth powered car earned Unser his fourth Victory and he became the second driver behind Foyt to win that many. Right next to that is the famous red and white Miller American “Spin and Win” 1985 March Cosworth that propelled Danny Sullivan into the record books. In another area is not only the Sunoco McLaren M16B that Mark Donohue drove to victory in 1972 for Penske, but also the Hurst/Oldsmobile Cutlass convertible that was given to Donohue for winning the race. Only 130 Hurst/Olds Cutlass convertibles from 1972 were built! Will Power’s 2018 Indy 500 winning Dallara/Chevrolet (and Corvette Pace Car) join some of the newer additions along with Josef Newgarden’s 2017 championship winning car. Mark Donohue got his first start at Indianapolis in the 1969 “500” and his four-wheel drive Lola T-152 is there with a plaque stating that he finished seventh that year and earned Rookie of the Year honors. There’s even a 1974 Penske PC-1 Formula One car that Donohue raced. This is a significant car in that it was the first car designed and manufactured by Penske Racing in Poole, England. Of the cars with fenders showcased, Donohue’s 1973 Porsche RSR IROC car that he won the inaugural International Race of Champions event at Riverside International Raceway (RIR) is there. He won three of the four events that year to become the first IROC champion. Roger Penske himself was a driver before becoming a team owner. In fact he won at RIR in a 1963 Pontiac Catalina that was owned by Nichels Engineering. That car is showcased there next to Brad Kesolowski’s Brickyard 400 winner and Joey Logano’s Daytona 500 winning NASCAR stock cars. Multiple engines (including the “Beast” – 1994 Indy 500 winning pushrod Mercedes), and scale models (some of which are actually wind tunnel models) are also on display. If you’re a racing fan and can appreciate the “Penske Perfect” way, then this is definitely a must visit place for you. It’s the best bargain in town – Free! BTW, his Ferrari and Maserati dealerships are adjacent so that there is plenty more to see, and buy! For more information visit: www.PenskeRacingMuseum.com.

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason

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The outside of the Penske Racing Museum fits right in with the local desert scenery.

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1985 (#5) and 1987 (#25) Indy 500 winners are just two of the special Indy cars on display.

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The one that got it all started winning for Penske at Indianapolis is the 1972 Sunoco McLaren driven by Mark Donohue along with the Hurst/Olds Cutlass convertible pace car.

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Two of the race winning Ford Fusion NASCAR stock cars will grab the “doors and fenders” race fan’s attention.

Photos by Larry Mason

 

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2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach Review

The best way to describe this edition of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach is that it was like a rollercoaster – lots of ups and downs when it came to the weather, racing and emotions. Friday’s temperatures were near 100 degrees with track temps about 130 degrees and while everyone anticipated that the weather would slow everything down, the exact opposite happened. The street circuit rubbered in so well that lap times fell like the temperatures would throughout the weekend.

Practice 1 for the NTT IndyCar Series was done in those really hot temps on Friday afternoon, yet the top time was over two seconds faster than the fastest time in the same session last year. Saturday’s temps were closer to the low 70’s with the sunshine still plentifully abundant when the NTT IndyCar Series took to the track for knockout qualifying. In the Firestone Fast Six, Colton Herta continued his mastery of the seaside street circuit that he won on last year to earn the pole. He waved to the Honda HPD employees in the Turn 10 grandstand on his cool down lap as a salute to all of their hard work. He was followed closely by last year’s pole sitter, Josef Newgarden. Alex Palou rounded out the top three. Felix Rosenqvist and Alexander Rossi claimed the next two spots enhancing the outlook on their season. Romain Grosjean completed the top six after losing his two quickest laps due to a shunt into the Turn 5 wall causing a red flag. Without that blunder, he would’ve started second.

At the start of the race, Herta pulled away immediately and opened up a significant gap to Newgarden and Palou. He easily led the first 28 laps until his first pit stop. After all the front runners had stopped, it was Palou who found himself in front until lap 54 of 85. From there, Team Penske did a great job to get Newgarden out front where he would remain for the rest of the race. However, it wasn’t that easy as he had to fend off strong challenges from Herta (who locked up under braking and smacked the wall in Turn 9 driver’s left), Palou and with just a few laps remaining, Grosjean who was on the Firestone “Reds” versus Newgarden on “Blacks.” Neither had any push to pass left and on a late re-start Newgarden took a super defensive line into Turn 1 and kept the lead. With a lap to go, Takuma Sato nosed into the tire barriers in Turn 8 (which collected a number of cars during the race) and so the race finished under caution. In the post-race press conference, Grosean admitted that even if they had a re-start it wouldn’t have changed the outcome.

In the IMSA WeatherTech 100 minute race, Sebastien Bourdais started from pole with a new track record and pulled away until overtaking a backmarker in another class at the Turn 11 hairpin. As he went inside on the entrance to the corner he lost grip, went wide on the exit and nosed into the outside wall driver’s left. He had to wait to back up and get going again and dropped to dead last in DPi. At that point he was upset with himself and figured that he had nothing to lose by being aggressive in traffic and charging to the front. In his own words every time he needed to make a pass he was just going to “send it.” He did just that in the drive of the weekend and handed off to his teammate Renger van der Zande who dutifully brought the Chip Ganassi Cadillac under the checkered flag for an exciting win. It was an all-Cadillac podium with the sister Ganassi car in second and the JDC Miller Motorsports entry in third.

In the GTD Pro category, Corvette Racing snared the pole with Jordan Taylor although it was the Aston Martin Vantage driven by Ross Gunn and Alex Riberas that brought home the victory ahead of the Vasser Sullivan Lexus and rounding out the podium was the Corvette.

In GTD, it was the BMW M4 of pole sitter Madison Snow along with teammate Bryan Sellers who drove to victory over a super competitive field. The podium was rounded out by an Acura NSX and Lexus RC F.

The Historic Motor Sports Association Invitational was a real fan favorite with cars from the pinnacle of IMSA GTP and European prototype era. The sensational sleek and sexy looking cars still look modern even 30 years later. Furthermore, the variety of machinery from chassis to engines thrilled the fans ‘round the track. Former Porsche factory driver Patrick Long went two for two in the events on Saturday and Sunday in Tom Malloy’s Leyton House Porsche 962. Tom Long was second on Saturday in the beautiful in look, and in sound, four-rotor, silver and blue Mazda RX-792P. Jerome Rodela rounded out the top three on Saturday in the Eagle Toyota MkIII. On Sunday, McLaren’s Zak Brown brought his gorgeous Jaguar XJR10 home in second followed by the lone non-prototype Porsche 935 of Martin Lauber.

The Porsche Carrera Cup races had Kay van Berlo take both wins over a very large field that also had numerous caution flags throughout both races.

The Speed Energy Stadium SUPER Truck races were won by one family – Gordon. Both Robby and his son Max won with Robby taking the win on Sunday and 13 year old Max being victorious on Saturday.

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason

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Colton Herta jumps out to an immediate lead at the drop of the green flag of the 47th Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. Unfortunately for him, a smack to the Turn 9 wall (after locking his brakes on Seaside Way with 30 laps remaining) ended his chance to win back-to-back.

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Late in the race Newgarden leads Palou and Grosjean. A late restart allowed Grosjean (on Firestone Reds) to get past Palou but he fell just short of winning and settled for second place. Notice the marbles off line.

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Here Josef Newgarden leads Colton Herta after great pit work by his Team Penske crew. Notice the rubber building up in the expansion joint and the marbles off line. 

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From L-R, Romain Grosjean, Josef Newgarden, and Alex Palou share the podium celebration holding up their hard-earned trophies.2022 AGPLB Bourdais T10 crop

Sebastien Bourdais had the drive of the weekend after qualifying on the pole with a new track record, dropping to last in the race and charging back to the lead before it was all said and done.2022 AGPLB HMSA start crop

Patrick Long put on a driving clinic against the other historic prototype drivers to take home two victories over the weekend.2022 AGPLB Max and Robby T10 donuts crop

Robby Gordon and his son Max celebrate Max’s win on Saturday. Dad Robby would win on Sunday!

Photos by Larry Mason

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2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach Preview, Part 2

The 2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach returns to its normal springtime calendar date (after being last year’s season finale in September) on April 8-10. In this week’s blog we’ll preview the main event – the NTT IndyCar Series.

After being last year’s season finale, where Alex Palou was crowned season champion and Colton Herta blitzed through the field from his 14th place starting position to win, there were no shortages of story lines heading into the weekend. This year, Team Penske driver Scott McLaughlin is the hottest driver after winning the first race of the season in St Pete and then dominating the Texas Motor Speedway oval before being passed by his teammate Josef Newgarden just as the checkered flag flew. Either way, he brings a healthy points lead into Long Beach this weekend. He’s no stranger to this track and after competing and winning in Bathurst Australia in SuperCars, he will no doubt be competitive here. Although, those words would apply to most of the field as most teams have decades of setup experience here. 

Who to watch? Team Penske is on a roll. Currently their drivers hold three of the top four spots in the points. Newgarden has never won at Long Beach, however his teammate Will Power has. All three of these teammates have a great shot. 

Alexander Rossi won the last two races before the Coronavirus pandemic and has suffered bad luck in each of the first two races this year. Look for him to rebound at the Beach.

Colton Herta thrives on street courses and after having won last year’s event, it’ll be no surprise to see him back in Victory Lane.

It was at last year’s race that Romain Grosjean was announced as the newest driver for Andretti Autosport taking over the DHL car in 2022 driven for so many years by Ryan Hunter Reay. Grosjean hasn’t had a win yet and Long Beach would be the perfect track to do so.

You can never count out Scott Dixon, Palou or even their teammate Marcus Ericsson to finish on the top step of the podium for Chip Ganassi. Dixon’s done it here before. Palou finished fourth in a conservative drive last year and is only two points shy of second in the championship coming into this race. Their teammate Ericsson has unfinished business at Long Beach after crashing out in Turn 1 last year.

It’ll be interesting to see if the Arrow McLaren SP, Rahal Letterman Lanigan, Meyer Shank, Ed Carpenter and Dale Coyne Racing teams can step it up and turn things around. There are multiple Long Beach and other race winners in that group. Specifically Pato O’Ward will have a huge cheering section, but don’t count out former Long Beach winners Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud. Graham Rahal seems to race better than he qualifies so he’s always a threat. Rinus VeeKay has already won an Indy car race and could add to that here while Takuma Sato has been running strong for Coyne and is also a former winner here.

Long shots? Kyle Kirkwood driving for AJ Foyt has shown impressive speed for that team and could surprise everyone. Callum Ilott learned the track last year and could impress this year along with Christian Lundgaard driving for RLL. Jack Harvey returns after concussion protocol and Felix Rosenqvist also wants to turn his season around and get back to winning.

For a complete weekend schedule, visit: https://gplb.com/weekend-schedule/

Photos by Larry Mason

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Will Colton Herta go two in a row at Long Beach?

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Will Alex Palou go from last year’s season champion’s Winner’s Circle to Victory Lane in Long Beach?

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Alexander Rossi will want to forget about last year and the start of this year and get back to his Sunday drive through the park and winning ways that he showed in 2018 and 2019 at Long Beach.

Photos by Larry Mason

 

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