Track Talk: IndyCar Race 2 Preview - Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

track-talk

 

April 5th, 2017.

Race two of the 2017 IndyCar series takes us to the historic streets of Long Beach. The oldest street race in North America, we take a look at the news and notes surrounding Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Can Simon Pagenaud repeat? Long Beach was home to Simon Pagenaud’s first win on the way to the 2016 IndyCar series championship. After a 2nd in St. Petersburg, will he be able to take the top spot on the podium?

Keep an eye on Sebastien Bourdais: The championship leader and St. Petersburg winner is no stranger to victory lane in Long Beach. Sebastien Bourdais has won the Long Beach Grand Prix more than any other active driver, dominating the race from 2005 through to 2007.

Takuma Sato, renaissance man? Can Takuma Sato carry his strong start to the season into Long Beach? History is on his side, as he won the 2013 race.

Can Long Beach predict the series champion? The last two Long Beach Grand Prix winners went on to win the IndyCar championship the same year. On 14 occasions the winner has gone on to win the championship. (15 if you count the inaugural race originally part of the old SCCA Formula 5000 series)

Loki the Wolfdog riding shotgun with Spencer Pigot:Loki the Wolfdog- the famous social media malamute/husky has teamed up with Ed Carpenter Racing, serving as the primary sponsor for Spencer Pigot in Long Beach. The first of many social media influencers to adorn an IndyCar? Possibly. This is an interesting strategy to connect the sport with the social media-savvy millennial crowd.

A new way to look at the competition: 21 drivers are expected to take the green flag in Long Beach, and of those 21 drivers 16 are IndyCar series winners.  Find me another series where 79% of the starting field is comprised of race winners. Now that’s competition!

And speaking of the five drivers yet to win: Long Beach has a history of producing first time winners. If a new winner is going to break through, then history says that it’s likely to happen here. Drivers to score their first IndyCar series win at the Long Beach Grand Prix include: Michael Andretti, Paul Tracy, Juan Pablo Montoya, Mike Conway, and Takuma Sato.

Random trivia: Mario Andretti is the only driver to win Long Beach in both a Formula 1 and IndyCar. 

Victor Genova is the host of the Media People Podcast and a freelance racing writer. You can follow him on Twitter at @VicGenova

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