The Verizon IndyCar Series heads to California this weekend for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach where last year, Scott Dixon took victory in the No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Team Chevrolet entry.
Dixon heads to Long Beach after taking victory last time out in Phoenix and speaking ahead of the race this weekend, the New Zealander commented by saying:
Long Beach has such an amazing history. It’s a truly iconic American event that started gaining a lot of popularity with Formula One back in the day. With the layout of the track it’s truly one of the best street circuits anywhere around, and more importantly you actually get to race there. It took me forever to get to victory lane there, but we managed to accomplish that last year and I hope we can return to that form again this year.
Let’s take a look at the race, the streets of Long Beach is a 1.968 mile, 11 turn clockwise temporary street circuit.
The race takes place over 80 laps and is a total distance of 157.44 miles. In relation to the push to pass there are 10 activation’s for 20 seconds each. Firestone have allocated 4 sets of primary and three sets of alternate tyres per driver over the course of the weekend.
Juan Pablo Montoya is looking forward to getting back on track having taken victory at the opening race of the season, another street circuit in St Petersburg. He commented by saying:
It will be good to get back on track this weekend at Long Beach with the Verizon Chevy. I’ve always liked racing at Long Beach. We won there back in 1999, but that’s been a long time. We’ve been pretty strong there the last couple of years, running in the top five, and hopefully we’ll be in a good position to continue that this weekend. We always get a great crowd at Long Beach – it’s one of the best atmospheres for racing that we have in the Verizon IndyCar Series. It’s like a big party at the beach and I’m hoping we’ll have good reason to celebrate with everyone on Sunday after the race.
Helio Castroneves who won the P1 Award here last year commented by saying:
It’s always a lot of fun racing in Long Beach. It’s incredible that this will be 42 years that this event is here. There’s so much tradition and history with this race and it’s a pretty special event to have on our Verizon IndyCar Series calendar every year. I remember when we won at Long Beach in 2001. That was awesome and we’ve been close a few other times, including last year when we won the pole and finished second. We will be looking for our first win of 2016 on Sunday in the No. 3 Auto Club of Southern California Chevy and Long Beach will be a great place to do it.
Following a tough start to the season, the Mayor of Hinchtown, James Hinchcliffe is hoping that he can have a solid weekend in the No.5 Arrow Electronics Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda. Hinch commented by saying:
Long Beach is one of the best events on the calendar. There’s a reason it’s been around more than 40 years. The track, the city, the events around town, they’re all great. Long Beach has been nice to me in the past, so hopefully we can have a solid weekend there after a few tough events and really kick off the season.
Two years ago, Mikhail Aleshin drove the circuit at Long Beach for the first time and speaking ahead of the race weekend, the Russian is looking forward to returning there:
I loved the Long Beach track from the first laps I turned there in 2014. It’s a great street-course track and very technical. Long Beach has a great and long history, which I’m proud to be a part of. We will have only one goal for this event, the same as for every other race: to win.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Max Chilton heads to Long Beach following a strong performance in Phoenix last time out he will be hoping to build on this at a circuit that he raced on last season in the Indy Lights programme.
I think we should be optimistic for Long Beach this weekend with the Gallagher team. I raced in Indy Lights here last year so I have some knowledge of the circuit. We have one street race under our belts in St. Petersburg this year, so there were a lot of lessons learned that can be applied here. Scott (Dixon) is the defending winner and really knows how to get around this place as well, so I’ll be looking to him for pointers before we get started on track Friday.
This weekend, Tony Kanaan will start his 252nd consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series race and speaking ahead of the race he commented by saying:
Coming off such an exciting race in Phoenix where we were so close to getting on the podium, I’m definitely ready to get out onto the streets of Long Beach and see what we can do there. I love how much history the Long Beach race has and how the Long Beach fans really embrace the event. The No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet has started the season out strong with two top-10 finishes and we really want to carry that momentum out to the West Coast.
Sebastien Bourdais commented by saying:
Considering how late things got under way this year, we have had a decent start to the season. We showed some pace in qualifying at St. Petersburg, but had some issues in the race. At Phoenix, we didn’t qualify well, but on race day, the team really came together and we had a solid result (finishing eighth). Long Beach, hopefully, will be another step towards running at the front again. I’ve had a lot of success at Long Beach, but the last few years have been more difficult for me, between lack of pace or mistakes. That being said, we salvaged a pretty good sixth place in 2015. The Long Beach circuit is a challenge. There are all types of corners and different surfaces you have to contend with, so getting the right setup is challenging. Because it is a street circuit, qualifying is extremely important. It is a great event because of the atmosphere. Next to the Indy 500, it is the premier event on our schedule. You also have to remember that one of our team owners, Kevin Kalkhoven, co-owns the race, so the entire team would like to do well for him.
Will Power in the No.12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet heads to Long Beach off the back of his first podium finish of the year last time out in Phoenix where he finished the race in third place behind team mate Simon Pagenaud and race winner Scott Dixon.
I was happy to get a strong result at Phoenix, which was really the start of our 2016 season. We needed to score some good points and we did with a solid finish on the oval. Now, we get back to the street this weekend in Long Beach and I’m excited to see if we can keep up the momentum there. The No. 12 Verizon Chevy has been good at Long Beach, but we’ve also had some bad luck there, like last year when we got caught out in qualifying and had some issues in the race. I love this circuit and racing in front of all the fans at Long Beach, so we’ll be aiming to get back on track this weekend.
Takuma Sato has fond memories of Long Beach having won there in 2013 and speaking ahead of the race he commented saying:
Long Beach is always a special place for me. I simply love the venue, atmosphere, great restaurants, enthusiastic fans and, of course, I enjoy driving the track so much. It holds an incredible memory for me (winning in 2013). So I am looking forward to going back there very much. Long Beach is a low-grip track and it has the tightest hairpin in the series and a bumpier surface than St. Pete, so it needs more force for the mechanical grip than the opening round. Also, we will use a much lower downforce setting in order to reduce drag for the long straight and have more chance to overtake. So the key is finding the balance with the right level of downforce, but you need to keep a good amount of downforce for the tires to stay in a good working range.
Graham Rahal will run a PennGrade livery this weekend, PennGrade being the title sponsor for this years 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 which takes place next month.
I’m thrilled to run the PennGrade livery in Long Beach. The car is so cool looking, and for me it’s just going to be a lot of fun to get out there and drive it. PennGrade has been a tremendous partner of our team since last year and I am very excited to see what happens with the brand going forward. I have high hopes for the race, but I always do. I think the team deserves a good result in Long Beach and we are working hard to be the best we can for this championship. It’s always a very tough race so I expect a lot of action and entertainment, but hope we can just stay out of trouble and keep clean. My past (Long Beach) results have been up and down. We have been good there but also had some bad luck and self-induced issues. We will try our best this year to pick up a victory in Long Beach rather than a Rahal finishing second there, which has happened a lot.
Dale Coyne Racing’s Conor Daly commented by saying:
I am really looking forward to this race weekend, much more so than Phoenix, just because I have a little bit of experience at Long Beach. I’m very excited for the race. I love the place. I love the track. I love the fact we were quick at the end of the race last year, so we have a good place to start and it’s with the same team, so it will be really cool. I didn’t work with (engineer) Mike (Cannon) last year, but we were all there as a team and it’s such a great track and great weekend. I’m finally feeling like it’s a race I’m more prepared for. Even though it will be the same as St. Pete and a tough battle, I feel more prepared than any other race we’ve had this year.
Luca Filippi is excited to be racing at one of his favourite events, the Italian commented by saying:
I’m very motivated heading into Long Beach because I really love the Long Beach Grand Prix. It’s one of my favorite races of the season. It’s a historical place and race for INDYCAR and for motorsports in general with Formula One racing there in the past. It’s one of those races that all drivers, including myself, want to win. It’s an event that gives me that extra motivation. We found a good balance for the car on the street circuit in St. Petersburg that we’ll be able to adjust for Long Beach. I expect to be up to speed quickly and to have a solid weekend. My expectations are relatively high as I think we can have a solid and strong weekend. The track itself is one of the most technical street courses that I’ve ever seen. In fact, it’s the track that probably took me the most time to learn and to understand its secrets. It is very, very difficult and challenging but very fun to drive. It has a little bit of everything with slow and fast corners, places where you can overtake with wide and narrow areas. I think it provides great Indy car racing. I’d say my favorite part is the last section, it’s a famous section where there’s been amazing passing in the past and it’s also the part that when you see it on videos or pictures, you know it’s Long Beach. It’s very special.
Josef Newgarden in the solo Ed Carpenter Racing entry this weekend commented by saying:
I can’t wait to get to Long Beach. It’s one of the most exciting events of the year. As a street course, it’s very thrilling and it has an amazing atmosphere. It’s definitely one of the tracks I feel like we’ve always been fast at, just not quite able to seal the deal from a results standpoint. The last couple of years we’ve been close, fighting within the top five but not able to get to the podium. Hopefully we can turn that around this year with the Fuzzy’s car and get on to the podium or even to victory lane.
Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud goes into this weekend’s race as the championship leader following his second place finish in Phoenix last time out and speaking ahead of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach he commented by saying:
We’ve had a great start to the season. After back-to-back second-place finishes, it’s an honor to be leading the points in the Verizon IndyCar Series for Team Penske. But, it’s obviously very early in the season and we are still very hungry for our first win. After coming close before in Long Beach, it would be really cool to get our first victory of the year here. Long Beach is always a tough race and it’s very important to qualify well so you can race up front. We are excited to have the No. 22 Team Penske car racing in the PPG colors this weekend. We had some really strong finishes last season in the PPG Chevy, including a couple of podium results, so we’ll try to keep the streak going at Long Beach.
Andretti Autosport’s Carlos Munoz commented by saying:
We are looking for a good result after a hard weekend Phoenix. I love Long Beach – it was my first win in Indy Lights and my first podium in (the Verizon) IndyCar (Series). I’m really looking forward to it. I love the track; it’s one of my favorites and I can’t wait to be back.
Marco Andretti in the No.27 United Fiber & Data/Snapple Honda is looking forward to the race this weekend saying:
Long Beach is my favorite street circuit and has a lot of family history for us. It’s a great setting for a race and the fans are so supportive. The Indy 500 is obviously top on my desired win list, but Long Beach is in a close second. I can’t wait to get back this weekend and hope to put the UFD/Snapple car up front.
Ryan Hunter Reay in the No.28 DHL Honda is going to have an extremely busy weekend as he will drive in both the IndyCar race here but he will also race in the IMSA in the No.90 prototype and speaking ahead of his double header, Hunter Reay commented by saying:
Long Beach is one of my favorite tracks, and cities, to visit. I’ll be pulling double duty this weekend racing both my DHL Honda for INDYCAR and the No. 90 prototype for the IMSA race, so it will be a busy weekend. But I love the track, I’ve won there before and am hoping to see that iconic podium twice this weekend.
AJ Foyt Racing’s Jack Hawksworth in the No.41 ABC Supply Co. Honda commented by saying:
I love this event, it is probably my favorite alongside Toronto. The track is technical and has a fantastic flow to it, putting the car on the edge here really is a lot of fun. On top of this, the weather is usually great and California is a fantastic location for such an historic race. We were very strong at St. Petersburg but shot ourselves in the foot a little bit during qualifying. I expect that our St Petersburg form will carry over to Long Beach, in fact, I believe we should be stronger than we were in St. Pete. It will just be a case of executing when it matters this weekend.
Charlie Kimball in the No.83 Tresiba® Chevrolet commented saying:
After a weekend off, I can’t wait to get back into the No. 83 Tresiba Chevrolet at Long Beach. It really doesn’t show in the championship standings yet, but I think we’re steadily on pace for a strong showing this season. The Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team gave me a great, fast car at both St. Pete and Phoenix; we just weren’t able to get the results. We’ll have a good pit location thanks to our qualifying run in Phoenix, and I have no doubt the No. 83 car will be quick again. I’m looking forward to giving my hometown crowd a reason to cheer this weekend.
Alexander Rossi in the No.98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda stated:
Long Beach is one of those races that you always hear about as an unbelievable venue and event, so I am very excited to be a part of it this year. This will be the first time in my professional career that I have raced at home in California and I will certainly be looking to put on a strong show for the local crowd.