In the midst of wrecks and fuel strategy, it was Mike Conway putting the perfect race together as he was able to put Ed Carpenter Racing back in victory lane in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. It marks Conway’s second victory in Long Beach and his third career win in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
“I can’t believe it,” Conway commented in victory lane. “Wow. Awesome job by the team. We weren’t sure what we had but we hung in there and it just seemed to come to us. I can’t believe it. 2-time Long Beach winner. It’s great to be back here.”
For car owner Ed Carpenter, it marks his second win as a car owner and his first since 2012 when he went to victory lane as an owner-driver in the season finale at Auto Club Speedway. Carpenter made the decision this season to only run the ovals while hiring Conway to run the street/road courses.
“You never know. you just got to push as hard as you can all the way to the end,” Conway added. “I just knew that I had to keep it clean and keep out of trouble.”
When the race started, pole sitter Ryan Hunter-Reay made it clear that he’d be the one to beat as he led early and kept a fair gap over second. Hunter-Reay would come down pit road with teammate James Hinchclife for the final pit stop with 26 laps to go. Josef Newgarden inherited the lead, pitting a lap later. As Newgarden came off pit road on cold tires, Hunter-Reay and Hichcliffe would quickly close up on his bumper.
As they headed into turn four, Hunter-Reay went to the inside of Newgarden when contact took place, resulting in both drivers wrecking.
“It’s racing – but what do you do when it’s your corner?” Newgarden’s car owner Sarah Fisher commented. “I think we need to making things clean from here on out. I’m just proud of this team and all their work. Josef is a helluva driver and I stand behind my drier 100%.”
“I was on cold tires. It’s very hard to control the car. I knew Ryan was on hot and would get by me,” Newgarden commented. “I just didn’t expect anyone to try and make a pass into four. You don’t really want to make a pass there with how tight that corner is. I tried to give him room, but perhaps he got in there a little hot. That shouldn’t happen up front. That’s not how it supposed to be.”
Michael Andretti noted that Hunter-Reay should’ve been a little more patient.
“I knew he was on cold tires through turn one and through turn three, he had some wheel spin,” Hunter-Reay explained. “I started to go to the inside then – half-car up a side of him and he just closed the door. I could’ve been more patient. We all could’ve given each other more room. I made the decision to go for it and that’s the type of driver I am – I go for it. I got others involved that I didn’t need to get involved – that’s what I feel bad about. You don’t know how down I am about sitting here talking.”
Hinchcliffe, being right on Hunter-Reay’s tail, was unable to miss the wreck and also was collected. It marks Hinchcliffe’s second straight poor finish after suffering mechanical issues in St. Petersburg. The Canadian had his wrist wrapped up post-incident, stating that he probably sprained it.
“I guess at the end of the day, patience is a virtue and someone wasn’t virtuous,” Hinchcliffe said. “It was a rookie movie. I feel bad for Josef, feel bad for Tony and it cost us big here as a team.”
The track was then blocked, collecting last year’s race winner Takuma Sato, Tony Kanaan and rookie Jack Hawksworth. Helio Castroneves also caught a piece of the wreck.
“I was on cold tires coming out of the pits, the guys did a great job on the stop,” Kanaan said. “We were all hit it – Sato hit it, the 98 car was close behind me and pushed me a little into it. Whoever made that move – it was a dumb move.”
Scott Dixon and Justin Wilson would inherit the lead having not pitted, while Will Power was the first to escape the wreck followed by Conway and Carlos Munoz.
“Luckily, Lee was on the radio down at the end and told me to stay right and I was able to sneak through there,” Conway said.
“I saw Hunter-Reay go to inside and it being there and Josef was on cold tires, I knew something was going to happen so I just stayed off them there,” Power commented.
The restart would come with 16 laps to go with Wilson looking for the lead on Dixon. There’d be contact between them resulting in Wilson getting into the wall.
“Sorry to Justin Wilson. I didn’t see him out there and wasn’t expecting him on the outside,” Dixon apologized post-race.
The race would stay green, though, till 13 laps to go when Graham Rahal would go for a spin. Rahal struggled throughout the weekend with trying to find speed.
The race restarted with 10 laps to go with Dixon getting a good jump over Conway and Power. Dixon would lead till two laps to go when he had to duck down pit road for some fuel, handing hte lead over to Conway. Conway then led the final two laps on his way to victory.
Will Power posted a second place finish following his win at St. Petersburg to extend his points lead to 27 points aheead of Mike Conway, 33 points ahead of Simon Pagenaud. Power struggled early on after qualifying 14th before making his way up to the top five in the second half.
Power did have some questionable contact with Pagenaud on lap 32 which resulted in Pagenaud getting into the tire barrier. Pagenaud was able to come back for a fifth place finish.
“I’m really sorry about what happened,” Power apologized post-race. “I thought he had a problem as he was going slow and went to his inside. I didn’t mean to get in there – my bad. I’m surprised I didn’t get to a penalty.”
“I think it’s pretty clear what happened,” Pagenaud commented. “I hate to complain to be honest – when you whine about people taking you out, you don’t take other people out. We had a really good car and he ruined our day.”
Rookie Carlos Munoz finished off the podium with his second career IndyCar podium.
“It was a really good race,” Munoz commented. “Really happy for the third place. Those last laps we were close to each other. I’m really happy to finish third. i have to thank my crew for their effort.”
After struggling two weeks ago, Juan Pablo Montoya put together a solid race on his way to finishing fourth.
“I paid the price in St. Pete and learned my lesson,” Montoya said. “Here, I was careful and had a good solid day.”
Pagenaud finished fifth, followed by rookie Mikhail Aleshin, Oriol Servia, Marco Andretti, Sebastain Saavedra, and rookie Carlos Huertas. Helio Castroneves finished 11th after serving a penalty late for jumping the start, followed by Scott Dixon.
“We were only a half lap short and the last thing I wanted to do was run out of fuel infront of the whole field,” Dixon commented. “We just had a messy day. we tried to stay out to try and jump some cars and it caught us out there.”
Dixon was the highest Ganassi car today as Kanaan got caught up in the wreck while Charlie Kimball suffered engine issues and Ryan Briscoe suffered electrical issues.
“The engine was losing power in the bottom end,” Briscoe commented.”We made a stop and changed electrical boxes and that didn’t fix it.”
Graham Rahal finished 13th, followed by Sebastian Bourdias. Bourdias was one of the quickest cars in practice, though suffered a pair of incidents after getting into the tire barrier.
Following a pair of dramatic weekends to start the season off, the drivers will get a weekend off before heading to Barber Motorsports Park.
Verizon IndyCar Series
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
LONG BEACH, Calif. – Results Sunday of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 1.968-mile Streets of Long Beach circuit, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (17) Mike Conway, Dallara-Chevy, 80, Running
2. (14) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 80, Running
3. (11) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
4. (16) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dallara-Chevy, 80, Running
5. (6) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
6. (20) Mikhail Aleshin, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
7. (12) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
8. (8) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
9. (22) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 80, Running
10. (21) Carlos Huertas, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
11. (9) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 80, Running
12. (7) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Chevy, 80, Running
13. (23) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 79, Running
14. (3) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 77, Running
15. (5) Jack Hawksworth, Dallara-Honda, 77, Running
16. (10) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 64, Contact
17. (18) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevy, 60, Running
18. (13) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 55, Contact
19. (4) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 55, Contact
20. (1) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 55, Contact
21. (2) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 55, Contact
22. (15) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 55, Contact
23. (19) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevy, 41, Off Course
Winners average speed: 82.362
Time of Race: 01:54:41.6418
Margin of victory: 0.9005 of a second
Cautions: 4 for 18 laps
Lead changes: 6 among 5 drivers
Lap Leaders: Hunter-Reay 1-26, Dixon 27-28, Hunter-Reay 29-53, Newgarden 54, Saavedra 55-57, Dixon 58-77, Conway 78-80.
Point Standings: Power 93, Conway 66, Pagenaud 60, Castroneves 55, Hunter-Reay 53, Dixon 51, Munoz 48, Montoya 47, Aleshin 46, Saavedra 42.