IndyCar moves to Long Beach, California this weekend for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Run on the venerable 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street course in downtown Long Beach, the 85 lap, 167.28 mile race will be broadcast on NBCSN on Sunday, April 9 at 4 p.m. ET.
This weekend's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will mark the 34th Indy car event on the historic street circuit. Mario Andretti won the first Indy car race there in 1984. Simon Pagenaud was the 2016 race winner, claiming his first win as a member of Team Penske. Sebastian Bourdais (2005-2007) was the last repeat winner at Long Beach. Simon Pagenaud is defending race champion.
"Long Beach is a special event for me." said Pagenaud "I really like the whole California vibe. There's just a different feeling in the air there. The St. Pete race allowed us to make a lot of points right away in our championship quest and it is what the Menards Chevrolet team does so well. We've done some testing during the break which has gone well. The whole team is very hungry. Long Beach has been kind to me and especially last year when we got my first Team Penske win. We're ready for the street fight."
Bourdais and Dale Coyne Racing came from last to first to claim the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series opener at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 12. Bourdais, a three-time winner at Long Beach, aims for back-to-back wins in pursuit of a fifth Indy car title.
"I've mostly always done well at Long Beach, although looking at my results there the last few years, they were not necessarily what they could have been for different reasons." said Bourdais "It's a circuit that I very much enjoy driving on, like any street circuit, to be honest. I think it suits my driving style quite well. If we find the right balance on the car, I think things can go well for us this weekend. We're always aiming to be in the top five because from there anything can happen. I know people will ask if we can win again this weekend at Long Beach. Well, we didn't expect to win in St. Petersburg. That said, for us it's more a question of proving our potential versus getting that ultimate result. Yes, winning was a great bonus for everyone on the team, but we also want to validate everything we're doing. At St. Petersburg, we didn't have the fastest car but we had potential and that's what I take away from that race and it's what motivates me as we move forward with this program."
Al Unser Jr. has won the most times at Long Beach (six), while Bourdais and Will Power are the only entered drivers with multiple wins. Power won in 2008 and 2012. Other former race winners scheduled to compete are Helio Castroneves (2001), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2010), Takuma Sato (2013), Scott Dixon (2015) and Pagenaud (2016).
This weekend's milestones include Tony Kanaan seeking to start his 267th consecutive race which would extend his Indy car record streak that began in June 2001 at Portland. Kanaan is currently fifth on the all-time list for IndyCar starts.
"It feels good to be back in the car and on the streets of Long Beach." says Kanaan "It was a tease to start the season then get a few weekends off, but we spent a lot of time testing and working in the simulator the past few weeks and we're feeling good heading into this weekend. We had a rough race in St. Pete dealing with some things we couldn't control, so we've made sure to regroup since then and we're all ready to get out there in Long Beach. I love the Long Beach circuit - the track and the atmosphere are just amazing."
Helio Castroneves will attempt to make his 329th career Indy car start, which ranks fourth on the all-time list.
"Long Beach is one of the most exciting tracks on the circuit to me." stated Castroneves "It's a fun environment and we've done well there. We really battled in St. Petersburg and wound up with a sixth-place finish, which was great, but I'm ready to perform better than ever at Long Beach. We were fast there last year, but we need to close the deal this time. I know the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet team will give me a great car and we'll be ready to go."
Drivers may engage their "push-to-pass" for a total of 200 seconds during the race, with a maximum duration of 20 seconds for any one activation. The push-to-pass is not available on the initial race start or any restart unless it occurs in the final two laps or three minutes of a timed race. The feature increases the power of the engine by approximately 60 horsepower for 2017.
At-track schedule (all times local):
Friday, April 7
10-10:45 a.m. - Verizon IndyCar Series practice #1, streaming on www.RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)
2-2:45 p.m. - Verizon IndyCar Series practice #2, NBCSN (Live)
Saturday, April 8
10:45-11:30 a.m. - Verizon IndyCar Series practice #3, streaming on www.RaceControl.IndyCar.com (live)
3:30 p.m. - Qualifying for the Verizon P1 Award (three rounds of Verizon IndyCar Series qualifications); NBCSN (live)
Sunday, April 9
9-9:30 a.m. - Verizon IndyCar Series warm-up, streaming on www.RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)
1 p.m. - NBCSN on air
1:23 p.m. - "Drivers, start your engines" command
1:30 p.m. - Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (85 laps/167.28 miles), streaming on www.RaceControl.IndyCar.com (live); NBCSN (Taped at 4:30 p.m.)
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