Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Honda Indy GP Of Alabama Gives High Marks To Round Four

CFH Racing's Josef Newgarden sprays ... and gets sprayed with, champagne after winning the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park. Image Credit: Shawn Gritzmacher - VICS

Honda Indy GP Of Alabama Gives High Marks To Round Four

Ever go to a Team Penske Chevy coronation (with a Ganassi Chevy chaser) and have a competition break out? This is what happened during the fourth round of the young 2015 Verizon IndyCar season.

The dedicated road course racing complex just outside of Birmingham, Alabama, Barber Motorsports Park, hosted the sixth consecutive Honda Grand Prix of Alabama this last weekend and all of the activity leading up to the race pointed to a racing domination put on by Team Penske and Target Chip Ganassi Racing (TCGR) built upon engine-power and aerodynamics provided by Chevrolet.

Qualifications saw the top 10 places occupied Chevy with Team Penske's Helio Castroneves and Will Power filling up the first row followed by team-mate Simon Pagenaud at P3 with TGCR's and Round 3 winner (Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach) Scott Dixon slotted in at P4.

The closest Honda engine-power and aerodynamics packaged Dallara DW12 was piloted by Rahal Letterman Lanigan's Graham Rahal at P8 with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Round 2 race winner (GP of Louisiana) James Hinchcliffe rounding out the top 10.

The weather decided not to become the story ... or better, become the over-riding factor of the race because the weather was perfect for the race to be the story of the race.

When the GREEN Flag flew, fans were treated to fast speeds and expert driving without all of that unnecessary carbon fiber flying all over the place. Barber Motorsports Park was originally constructed as a supermoto motorcycle race track so the racing surface provided tends to be a little tight for wide IndyCars but this did not limit expert passing on the many power curves this rolling hills situated track is noted for.

No. 67 Josef Newgarden leads No. 3 Helio Castroneves and the field into Turn 5 during the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. Image Credit: Chris Owens - VICS

Within the first few laps, people were being treated to a masterful display of race management driving first by CFH Racing's Chevy of Josef Newgarden (starting P5) and in the closing laps by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing's Honda of Graham Rahal (starting P8).

Newgarden made his intent to win known immediately, passing Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon as the field streamed into Turn 1 after the GREEN Flag. Before the first lap was even completed, he gained another position when he out-maneuvered Will Power coming out of Turn 17.

On Lap 19, Newgarden and race leader Helio Castroneves dropped into the pit lane for their first stops of the race. The No. 67 Hartman Oil crew switched Newgarden to black Firestone Firehawk tires quickly enough to beat the No. 3 of Castroneves off of the pit lane.

Newgarden led the field to the restart on Lap 24 over Castroneves and Graham Rahal. A few clean laps were followed by another full course caution on Lap 34, sending Newgarden back into the pit lane for his second stop of the race. The team believed they were within the window to be able to complete the race on one more stop later in the event.  Castroneves remained on the same strategy as Newgarden, but this time the No. 3 beat the No. 67 out of the pits. The yellow flag split the strategy of the field, with half of the cars electing to stay out.

No. 1 Will Power works his way back through traffic as the field streams through Turn 5 during the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park. Image Credit: Chris Owens - VICS

The next restart on Lap 39 saw Newgarden take the green from the 14th position. Newgarden focused on getting around Castroneves to move back to the first car in line on their strategy.  His goal was accomplished within the lap, when he masterfully overtook Castroneves coming out of Turn 16.

As the second round of pit stops cycled through, Newgarden regained the lead on Lap 51, ahead of Castroneves and Dixon. Newgarden's last stop came on Lap 63, one lap ahead of Dixon's final stop who was running in second. After final pit stops, Newgarden cycled back to the lead on Lap 70 and began building a lead that reached as high as seven seconds.

RLL driver Graham Rahal comes in for his final pitstop seven laps later than Josef Newgarden and one lap later than Scott Dixon which allows him to put on the hardest podium placing charge of the race. Image Credit: Chris Jones - VICS

A hard-charging Rahal, who was on a different pitstop strategy, got new tires and full fuel to the end on Lap 70, caught and passed first, Will Power (ending P4), Ryan Hunter-Reay Lap 81 (ending P5), Helio Castroneves Lap 83 (who finished P15 out-of-gas), then Dixon on the final lap after being as far back as P6 after his final pitstop.

Josef's car sports a 'wheel tag' mark on the left sidefloor kick (presumably from a set of Reds) as he crosses across just over the Start/Finish line proving the tight racing that was experienced throughout the 90 laps of the Honda Indy GP Of Alabama. Image Credit: Chris Owens - VICS

Newgarden took the checkered flag 2.2 seconds ahead of Rahal, adding his name to the record books as a Verizon IndyCar Series race winner.

As far as Chevy domination? ... Andretti Autosport, Honda-powered and aero-modified, finished with three cars in the top 10 at P5, P6, and P10 (RHR, Munoz, and Andretti), add James Hinchcliffe at P7 and Graham Rahal's P2 and the top 10 places are evenly split - five Chevy, five Honda.
(ht: CFH Racing for description contribution on Josef Newgarden, No. 67 Hartman Oil Chevrolet's run)

A photo posted by Paddock Insider (@paddockinsider) on

This excerpted and edited from Motorsport.com -

Five worthless opinions: Honda Grand Prix of Alabama edition
By: Mark Wilkinson, Motorsport.com - April 27, 2015 5:06pm

At times, my WO’s (worthless opinions) can run to sarcasm. Surprising, I know. And the Verizon IndyCar Series always seems to offer snark fodder in abundance.

At previous races this year, the fragile front wings, racing in the rain, and rules interpretations have made it easy for one so inclined. The Honda Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park changed most of that. While not snark free, most of these WO’s celebrate a great race.

1.  All-American Finish

Josef Newgarden winning is a big deal for many reasons. A compelling storyline to recent Verizon IndyCar Series seasons is the lack of a marketable American drivers for a North American series.

F1, noted for drivers from around the world, is a truly international series with venues around the world.  The IndyCar series is not. The international drivers in IndyCar are outstanding, but without sounding all jingoistic about it, having a young, well-spoken, and telegenic American cannot hurt the marketability of the series. If the series chooses to market him, of course.

They had American Ryan Hunter-Reay as both series champ and Indy 500 winner and it would hard to say they capitalized on that.

2.  The Racing

Newgarden and his Chevy were racy from the start, passing Scott Dixon, Simon Pagenaud, and Will Power to grab the lead from a fifth place start. It was the kind of start that had fans using body English to help the drivers maneuver through traffic.

Graham Rahal’s run in his Honda to second after a late fuel stop had fans watching two strategies at once: Newgarden’s slow-paced fuel saving in his Chevy versus Rahal’s hanging-it-out after stopping for fuel near the end. Fans could actually see the interval decreasing by [a couple of] seconds per lap.

And while Newgarden’s early passes were scintillating, Rahal’s outside passes throughout the race were equally spectacular. Great stuff.

3.  Lack of Idiocy/Penalties/Yellows

It was almost life affirming to not see carbonfiber flotsam and jetsam strewn around the track on the first lap. The racing was tight and, for the most part, clean.

For the second race in a row, yellow flag racing was at a minimum. Of course, the last two races simply balanced out the first two in the green/yellow ratio. We’ll see where it goes from here.

It goes without saying that no Verizon IndyCar Series race is complete without grousing and complaining from drivers and teams about the officiating. Both Sebastien Bourdais and Stefano Colleti took exception to yellow flags causing them personal hardship.

Juan Pablo Montoya took umbrage at Rodolfo Gonzalez slowing him down. James Hinchcliffe was upset with Rahal’s line through the turns. Ryan Hunter-Reay is still upset about NOLA and sees inconsistency everywhere. And of course, everyone complained about Francesco Dracone’s pace.

The reality was that Race Control penalized some, drivers, warned others, and called nothing in other situations.  It’s like calling holding in the NFL. An official can do it every play. You can’t call it all in racing, either, no matter how much the drivers whine and complain.

4.  Success of CFH Racing and RLL Racing

Back at the top of the podium, the success of Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing over Penske and Ganassi bodes well for the sport and the team.

The same holds true for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, too. The smaller teams in the series need success to bolster their bottom lines when it comes to sponsorship. While Ed Carpenter has Fuzzy’s Vodka for he and Luca Filippi in their ride share, a win can go a long way to help Sarah Fisher land a season-long sponsorship for Josef Newgarden.

Graham Rahal’s second place finish sure put sponsor Steak and Shake in the spotlight. And Rahal, ever the shill for his sponsors, tweeted after the race that he might stop in for a shake on his way home.

5.  Big Mo Heading to Indy:

There must be something to momentum in sports. Every announcer, coach, and player in every sport talks about its value.  If that’s true, then the month of May in Indy could be interesting.

Chevy certainly has engine and aero kit momentum. They are the class of the field. Penske has some, too.  The team has every driver in the top nine in the standings with Montoya and Castroneves running first and second.

The Ganassi boys are coming on, particularly after Long Beach. With Newgarden and Rahal riding their Barber success, this might be the year for an underdog winner at the 500. And don’t forget about the invisible man, Ed Carpenter.  He knows Indy.

The greatest beneficiary of momentum has to be the Verizon IndyCar Series. After the aero growing pains of St. Pete and the weather woes of NOLA, the series seems to be finding its groove.

All in all, it was a most excellent race.

Let’s hope it sets the tone for a most excellent month of May in Indy.
[Reference Here]

Will Power on course during the final warmup for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park. Image Credit: Shawn Gritzmacher - VICS

The last kudo goes to Will Power for qualifying P2, being passed, sliding back and being penalized with a drive through penalty for hitting Takuma Sato (on "pit out" after the first stop) sending Power to the back of the field, then fighting all of the way back to a respectable P4 finish ... the highest finishing Team Penske car in the field.

The promise of the merger, the DW12 with modified aero body parts, tire selection, fuel management, great weather, along with good strategy and excellent driving all came together at one of America's most beautiful purpose built road courses.

Bravo to Newgarden, Rahal, Dixon, Power, Barber Motorsports Park, and most of all ... the Verizon IndyCar Series for presenting the best road racing action in several years.

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Barber Motorsports Park, Round 4, VICS, Verizon IndyCar Series, Josef Newgarden, Graham Rahal, Scott Dixon, Will Power, CFH Racing, Team Penske, Taret Chip Ganassi Racing, The EDJE

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Records Fall As Fastest Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach Ends

Scott Dixon: "Today, good start.  Juan [Montoya] sort of crowded me a bit on the left, which sort of gave me an opening to go around the outside of him into Turn 1, which was definitely the key there, and the first pit stop exchange with TK [Tony Kanaan] and Helio, obviously opened up the position for me to try and pass Helio in the pits.  Probably need to buy TK a beer.  Obviously he didn't do it on purpose, but that's the way it happens, and it definitely helped out the scenario with our race." - Question: You saw TK right in victory lane? What did you say, if anything, and did you touch base on his pit stop at the first stop? Answer, SCOTT DIXON: "Yeah, I spoke to TK, he said I need to buy him a beer, even though he doesn't drink ... I'll drink it for him (Laughter)." Image Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar.com

Records Fall As Fastest Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach Ends

As the caption on the lead image suggests, there was not a lot of passing for the lead on the track during the running of the 41st Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach (TGPLB). The largest driver position change during the race was delivered by Andretti Autosport DHL Honda's Ryan Hunter-Reay ... backwards 9 positions (P4 to P13).

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “Today was a big disappointment for us, probably one of the worst races we’ve had from green to checkered. I had a car I couldn’t drive hard when I needed to. The strategy we went for didn’t work out. Our pit stops did not really work out. Nothing really worked out for us today. I guess sometimes you have those days in racing, but they’re certainly not days we ever want to be accustomed to having. We’ll regroup and move on to Barber." Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

On a positive side, new #IndyCar #TGPLB track records were set when all 23 of the cars entered in the race were running at race end with 19 of the cars being on the lead lap, and overall average race speed of 96.800 mph when the checkered flag flew and Scott Dixon driving the Red #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing aero kit modified DW12 won.

All three previous records were set in the 2013 DW12 era race won by Takuma Sato when 21 cars finished with 18 being on the lead lap while the leader posted an average speed of 85.763 mph.

As far as the hard-charger award is concerned, a field-high of positions gained is held by Conor Daly, who was a late replacement for Rocky Moran Jr., who injured his hand, in the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Trench Shoring Honda. He finished 17th after starting P21.

Scott Dixon trails Helio Castroneves after getting past Juan Pablo Montoya on the first lap. Here, Helio is nearly 2 seconds ahead of Scott as they begin the fourth lap ... just before the only full course caution of the race. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

The most important pass of the day happened in the pits during the first round of pit-stops for fuel and tires on Lap 29. The pass happened with the help of proximity in pit location and timing, in that the pit directly in front of the pit box of the Verizon P1 pole winner and race leader for the first 29 laps, Penske Racing's Helio Castroneves, was being filled by Tony Kanaan (the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team-mate of Scott Dixon) as he came in for his tires and fuel.

Post Race Press Conference:

Question:  Just so we're clear, when they held you in the pits, was that because other traffic coming right behind you and you didn't want to run into them?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah. It was close. It was definitely close. But yeah.

Question: Helio, if that hadn't have happened in the pits, if there was no one in front of you and you were able to go when you were ready, do you think Dixon would have had enough to get by you because I assume you would have been out in front of him?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Again, he was so close. All three cars, four cars actually, but he was much better being in front. I don't think he would be able to get by. After the race was over, we were just talking between ourselves and we can see that he was very consistent, but I have moments of very good and maybe some moments, some laps maybe would be terrible. But in the end of the day, it was ‑‑ it would be very difficult for him to pass. 

So this brings the season to a full circle understanding of aero kit modified DW12s after a really tough start to 2015. The 41st Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach, by default, was the first near incident free real race test of the new aerodynamically modified Dallara DW12 racing platforms.

The first race on the schedule was to be run in Brazil, but was cancelled just a few weeks before the scheduled date, so the actual first race ended up being the Firestone Grand Prix Of St. Petersburg through the streets of St. Petersburg, FL the last weekend of March. The drivers ended up crashing into each other a lot, sending carbon fiber debris from the elaborate multi-element aero kit front wings to be cleaned up during the many laps run under a full course YELLOW Flag caution.

Brian Herta Autosport Bowers & Wilkins CURB Honda's Gabby Chaves (R) running in clean air at #GPNOLA. Notice how the trailing turbulence is left down on the track surface as opposed to being lifted away from the racing surface. Image Credit: Bret Kelley - Verizon IndyCar Series 

The second race, the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana, was held at a totally new venue outside of New Orleans, Louisiana and poor weather placed an inaugural penalty of 28 laps. The race was scheduled for 75 laps but was only able to complete 47 due to the abundance of full course YELLOW Flag caution periods that started happening after the first wet, cleanly run 16 laps. Accidents caused by standing puddles on the track had the race called a timed race after 28 laps and with incident after incident happening during each of the many GREEN Flag restarts had the number of racing laps run under GREEN at only 26 Laps.

Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana race winner James Hinchcliffe trails (R to L) Graham Rahal, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Carlos Munoz through the "Fountain Turn" (Turn 3) in an evenly spaced parade of very fast cars. Image Credit: Myles Regan (2015)

Welcome to "The Beach" for the third test of the season and the long straightaways of Shoreline Drive (front from the hairpin at Turn 11 to Turn 1) and Seaside Way (beginning at Turn 8 and ending at Turn 9). In St. Petersburg, it was suspected that the trailing turbulence from the aerodynamically modified bodywork would not allow the faster car of Will Power to re-take the lead away from his team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya on any straight line part of the course after Montoya's pass in the pits (sound familiar?) on the last round of pit stops in the race.

At Long Beach, the race supported much of the same evidence that the trailing turbulence was at work again (see above images, last image, and launch YouTube video for car spacing observation).

For a complete race with little race impeding YELLOW Flags, the cars can be seen along each of the straightaways pacing each other with similar spacing between each car without much in the way of challenging through out-braking or aggressive actions seen by fans in previous season races.

After winning the first race at the Grand Prix Of St. Petersburg, Penske Racing's currently holds down the Verizon IndyCar Series season points lead after three races with a different winner in each race. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

It really appears that ever since Tony Kanaan came out publicly with statements recognizing the increased occurrence of intensity in the nature of the trailing turbulence, a memo seemed to have been circulated before the Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach to all who compete in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

The speculated points contained in the memo instructed competitors to 1) Stiffen-up and reduce the number of exposed aerodynamic parts on the front wings and etc. 2) Do not drive so aggressive as to break anymore pieces of any car given the carnage of the last two races (a reminder that this is an open wheel racing series), and 3) Whatever one does about responding to questions or speculation on trailing turbulence ... DO NOT make this an issue as to reducing the competition on the track - diffuse by saying to anyone who asks about the subject; "This effects everyone the same way so it really is not a problem."

This response was delivered to multiple members of the press who asked questions in the paddock and conference rooms about trailing turbulence and were curious about what had been happening (or not happening) on the track.

Juan Pablo Montoya leads a group of evenly spaced cars into Turn 1 on Shoreline Drive during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Image Credit: Richard Dowdy, Verizon IndyCar Series

Fans who follow the series developments and competition closely know that something has changed and it may not be for the better. To be truthful, any aero-engineer worth their salt would attempt to design a trailing turbulence pattern that would kick ANY competitive car that threatens to take the position away on a long straight ... into the next zip code (if not, the next time zone). This may good for leading cars in protection mode but this effect is not good for the product of racing. Neither is a seven month hiatus from the last race of the season to the first race of the next season and being FEARFUL to hold races during American Football season, but these are the subjects for a different time.

Records fall with the increase of aerodynamics but is the racin' any better if no one can pass even with a stronger car? Ask Will Power why he felt a dive into Turn 10 (or Turn 4) at St. Petersburg seemed to be the only option(s) when he clearly had the faster car.

... notes from The EDJE

Next Race: HONDA INDY GRAND PRIX OF ALABAMA ||| APRIL 24 – 26 ||| Broadcast NBCSN 3:00 PM ET - Race: 3:30 PM ET - 5:45 PM ET

TAGS: Mushroom Busting, Tony Kanaan, Juan Pablo Montoya, Helio Castroneves, Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach, turbulence, Verizon IndyCar Series, Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana, The EDJE, #IndyCar, #TGPLB, #Highlights, #Toyota, #GrandPrix, #LongBeach

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

#GPofNOLA Could Have Been Named The NOLA Mudder 47 (Laps)

Tony Kanaan goes off course during the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana at NOLA Motorsports Park. Image Credit: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar
#GPofNOLA Could Have Been Named The NOLA Mudder 47 (Laps)

The inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana was ushered in with great anticipation and hype for a 75 Lap affair. This great uplift was to be dampened (literally) by a track that suffered from the improper, or unplanned for, wick-ing of pooling water caused by rain in several key places.

True, the track facility (2.74-mile, 13-turn road course) was reclaimed from low ground swamp area near the city of New Orleans which is what characterizes the geography at the end of the Mississippi River. With this in mind, why wasn't the facility better prepared for the track to become a race-able surface in a more even way around the track?

Gabby Chaves (No. 98 Bowers & Wilkins Brian Herta Autosport Honda) comes off course due to degrading track conditions during the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana at NOLA Motorsports Park. Image Credit: Bret Kelley for IndyCar

So full course YELLOW Flags (FCY) filled the air as much as the wet spray from the turbulent backsides of the second race-testing of the Chevy and Honda aero kits. This left (from notes) a total of 47 Laps completed of a scheduled 75 Lap race (called a 105 minute timed race on Lap 28 due to FYCs) with only about a total of 26 Laps actually raced in anger. This left 21 laps upon which strategy and fuel conservation could be applied to the race day equation.

Bravo to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports who race with Honda engines and aerodynamics and were able to place both of their drivers on the podium. James Hinchcliffe was able to notch his first win in 2015 and his fourth overall IndyCar career victory while British born James Jakes finished third, his first podium finish since he finished second at Belle Isle-2 in 2013 - his second career top-five IndyCar finish.

Of the 47 Laps logged, Hinchcliffe did not go in for fuel during the last 34 laps that were run ... keeping clean and fuel management were the keys to his success.

The mudder part of the race was on display as cars left the track and hit ARAMCO barriers, slid off the track on corners then kept the tires spinning, flailing grass and chunks of mud while creeping back to a paved surface to soldier on.

One of the most controversial incidents happened on Lap 44 which turned out to be the last GREEN Flag restart - after cruising around the track another three laps on FCY.

The final full course YELLOW Flag came from a massive incident between Sebastien Bourdais, Simon Pageneud, and Ryan Hunter-Reay as the drivers attempted to go three-wide in turns 3 and 4.

Pageneud slid off the track into the mud, and then back on the track in the next right-hand corner, collecting Hunter-Reay and Bourdais sending all three cars across the grass.

Bourdais slides to the tire wall and hits broadsides cracking the hull of his No. 11 Dallara (all preceding crash images by Bret Kelley for IndyCar).

Post Race Incident Quotes:

Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet): “Really too bad about the finish because the Penske Truck Rental Chevy was really fast. It handled great in traffic and we looked like we were heading toward a good result. I'm not sure what Hunter-Reay was thinking there. He just drove us off the track and I'm just glad everyone is OK. I want to thank the fans for staying with us this weekend despite the weather. I think the No. 22 Chevy team will be able to come back strong at Long Beach.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL Honda): “We had a great race going, had some good clean racing there with (Graham) Rahal, (Will) Power — even (Simon) Pagenaud, we went side by side through Turn 10 there, it was some good racing. Then we got down to Turn 3… I’m peddling the car all the way out, it’s loose, there’s just no more room for (Pagenaud) to be out there.  (Sebastien) Bourdais, is on my left, I don’t know where to go at that point. I’m using my regular racing line – (Pagenaud) stuck his nose out there (and was off the racing line)… And just cleans us all out. I’m happy all three of us are uninjured. (Pagenaud) said I ran him out of room, but there just was no room in the first place. I don’t know what to say to that — it’s certainly a racing incident but there wasn’t a whole lot of room there to begin with. Disappointing way to end the day, we were looking for a strong finish with the DHL Honda.”

Sebastien Bourdais (No. 11 Team Mistic E-Cigs-KVSH Chevrolet):  “It was a weird race obviously. We held our own throughout the race getting as high as fourth. The Mistic-Circle K car ran good in the wet and ran good as the track transitioned. Then the race just became a succession of cautions with restarts after restarts during which I made a couple of spots and lost a couple of spots. Because of all the cautions there were different strategies and as they played out we ended up having to pit when everybody behind us had already done so. The guys in back cycled to the front and we cycled to the back with the leaders. Then with all the cautions, the guys in back were able to stretch their fuel and on the last restart I was on the inside and Ryan (Hunter-Reay) came up and made it three wide with Simon (Pagenaud). Ryan pushed Simon into the grass, he then came back on track with no control and could not avoid collecting me ending our race. It was never going to be a good day, but now with the damage to the car it is a shame because this was going to be my Indy 500 car.”

The #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda front wing aero kit of James Hinchcliffe bathed in New Orleans purple, green and gold, Mardi Gras style, winner's circle confetti at the Verizon IndyCar victory podium. Image Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar

The race also had its share of missing and damaged aero kit parts, but through it all, drivers that kept their cars clean, advanced during restarts, and stayed away from the mud were rewarded with great results.

Pos   Driver                      Team/Engine         Time/Gap
1      James Hinchcliffe     Schmidt/Honda     1h47m19.4896
2      Helio Castroneves     Penske/Chevrolet     +0.4279
3      James Jakes     Schmidt/Honda     +0.8452
4      Simona de Silvestro     Andretti/Honda     +1.2924
5      Juan Pablo Montoya     Penske/Chevrolet     +1.7564
6      Tony Kanaan     Ganassi/Chevrolet     +2.2638
7      Will Power     Penske/Chevrolet     +3.0958
8      Graham Rahal     Rahal/Honda     +4.3495
9      Josef Newgarden     CFH/Chevrolet     +5.7352
10      Luca Filippi     CFH/Chevrolet     +7.2115
11      Scott Dixon     Ganassi/Chevrolet     +7.8421
12      Carlos Munoz     Andretti/Honda     +9.0899
13      Marco Andretti     Andretti/Honda     +9.7817
14      Charlie Kimball     Ganassi/Chevrolet     +15.7221
finished the race, above - retired from the race, below
15      Gabby Chaves     Herta/Honda    
16      Carlos Huertas     Coyne/Honda    
17      Stefano Coletti     KV/Chevrolet    
18      Sage Karam     Ganassi/Chevrolet    
19      Ryan Hunter-Reay     Andretti/Honda    
20      Simon Pagenaud     Penske/Chevrolet    
21      Sébastien Bourdais     KV/Chevrolet    
22      Takuma Sato     Foyt/Honda    
23      Francesco Dracone     Coyne/Honda    
24      Jack Hawksworth     Foyt/Honda
(ht: motorsport.com | nextgenindy.com)

The return of  Simona de Silvestro for a second race (in a race by race commitment) to an Andretti Autosport seat gave the accomplished female driver and the team its highest finishing order in this young 2015 season. A commitment to have a car ready for her this next weekend for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, a track where she has won at and performed well, has not been announced. It would be a shame a deal can not be made by race time April 17 - 19 - Race Broadcast, Apr 19 4:00 PM ET.

Two races in the books where Carbon Fiber and Terra Firma have played a major role at bringing out full course YELLOW Flags. Let's hope we all can be treated to a competitive full run through the streets of Long Beach and see for ourselves if the new aerodynamics of the cars limit the potential of passing because of low mushroom cloud "muddy air" turbulence placed on the trailing car.

If this is the case, IndyCar will be taking a big step backwards toward a lack of fan enjoyment due to IRL style nose-to-tail railroad car racing that was prevalent during the Dallara "Crapwagon" era.

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana, NOLA, IndyCar, Verizon IndyCar Series, VICS, James Hinchcliffe, Sebastien Bourdais, Simon Pageneud, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Simona de Silvestro,


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Practice And Cars Picked For 39th Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race

Scion FR-S race-prepped cars await to be fired up and driven for the first time in 2015 for track orientation and racing practice by the participants of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Pro/Celebrity Race. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

Practice And Cars Picked For 39th Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race

Grand Prix Association of Long Beach officials held track orientation and practice for the 2015 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Pro/Celebrity Race (TPCR) with actors Alfonso Ribeiro, Robert Patrick and Mekhi Phifer, Olympian Dara Torres and musicians Mark McGrath and John Rzeznik who are among the 18 participants from film, television, music, sports, and fashion who will compete for charity.

The 39th annual charity race will take place April 18 on the 1.97-mile street course in downtown Long Beach, Calif., as part of the 41st Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend.

Toyota Scion FR-S equally race-prepped cars used in the Pro/Celebrity charity race heading into Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Turn1 at the end of Shoreline Drive. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

Tuesday, April 7th, had the participants take what they learned from their training at Willow Springs International Motorsports Park through the instruction provided by Danny McKeever's FAST LANE Racing School and apply the lessons for the first time on the streets of Long Beach. 

Rahal Letterman Lanigan racecar driver, Bill Auberlen, checks the airpressure of the tires on his supercharged BMW M6 which he brought to TPCR Media Day to give rides to the members of the media. Bill drove the track to bring awareness to IMSA's Tudor United Sports Car Championship race of full-bodied cars. The race is scheduled to be run Saturday April 18 as part of the 41st Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

The TPCR event was also a Media Day where the notable drivers for charity were photographed, interviewed, and thrown together for a luncheon where they randomly picked their car number out of a bowl and signed the traditional helmet which will later be auctioned off to the additional benefit of the charities supported.

Nickelodeon television series iCarly's Nathan Kress, who plays Freddie Benson, picks a numbered ping-pong ball out of a bowl held by Jessica Jenkins, Miss Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

The field of racers took to the streets of the temporary course in 210-horsepower Scion FR-S race-prepped cars, navigating high speeds and demanding turns to benefit “Racing for Kids,” a national fundraising program supporting children’s hospitals throughout the United States.  The announced field of intensely competitive personalities includes, in alphabetical order [car number]:

Fast Lane owner and instructor, Danny McKeever gives last minute race driving advice to Donna Feldman. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

•    Donna Feldman (@DonnaFeldmaninc) [15]: International model, TV Host and actress who has graced the covers of Esquire, Maxim, and GQ among many others, is a former “Deal or No Deal” girl, starred in music videos for Justin Timberlake and Enrique Iglesias, was a series lead in 20th Century Fox's drama  "Fashion House," and is a recurring panelist on the Fox News Show "Redeye."

Football Star Willie Gault (L) "catches" his ball for car assignment for the TPCR race. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

•    Willie Gault [10]: Former NFL wide receiver and Olympic athlete.  He played for the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Raiders in his 11 seasons in the NFL, winning Super Bowl XX with the Chicago Bears.

Strapped in, complete with neck ring cushion, Tricia Helfer takes on Long Beach. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

•    Tricia Helfer (@TruTriciaHelfer) [6]: Tricia Helfer is a Canadian model turned actress who recently played the lead in SyFy’s miniseries “Ascension.”  She has also starred in television shows such as “Killer Women,” “The Firm” and “Burn Notice.”  Her avid fans, however, know her best for her long running role as the humanoid Cylon ‘Number Six’ in “Battlestar Galactica.”

Nathan Kress (R) poses with Robert Patrick next to a Toyota Scion FR-S in the grid paddock at the TPCR Media Day. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

•    Nathan Kress (@NathanKress) [19]: Known around the world for his lead role in Nickelodeon’s hit show “iCarly,” this Kids’ Choice Award nominee also starred in the 2014 feature film “Into the Storm.”

James Maslow is greeted by a knowing media representative. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

•    James Maslow (@JamesMaslow) [17]: Kids’ Choice award-winning actor and musician best known as the star of top-rated Nickelodeon program “Big Time Rush.” Currently co-starring as ‘Kevin Mohr’ on the Sony Crackle original series, “Sequestered” and plays lead in upcoming films “Seeds of Yesterday” and “Wild For The Night.”  He was also a finalist on Season 18 of “Dancing With The Stars.”

Sports announcer Steve Mason (C) looks on as fellow TPCR driver Dave Pasant picks his number car. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

•    Steve Mason (@VeniceMase) [2]: ESPN Radio host of the No. 1-rated “Mason & Ireland Show” for 18 years, and regular contributor to Fox 11’s “Good Day LA.” He has been the lead anchor for the USC Football Radio Network, and most recently began anchoring duties for the L.A. Dodgers Television Network.

Mark McGrath signs his name to the charity auction helmet. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

•    Mark McGrath (@Mark_Mcgrath) [3]: Lead singer of Sugar Ray.  He has graced the cover of Rolling Stone and hosted “EXTRA!,” “Killer Karaoke” and “Don’t Forget the Lyrics.”  He also appeared on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice.”

Raul Mendez is cool before taking turns on the TGPLB temporary street track. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

•    Raul Mendez (@raulmijomendez) [5]: Considered by many in Mexico as one of the finest actors of his generation.  Best known for his role as ‘Victor ‘Chacorta’ Casillas’ in “El Señor de los Cielos.”  He will also be featured in the soon to be released “Texas Rising” with Bill Paxton, Ray Liotta and Brendan Fraser.

Joshua Morrow is happy to be a competitor for charity at the TPCR. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

•    Joshua Morrow (@JoshuaMorrowyr) [1]: Soap Opera Digest award-winning actor starring as ‘Nicolas Newman’ on the No. 1 daytime drama, “The Young and The Restless.”

Robert Patrick strikes the visage of a serious driver while in the TPCR paddock. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

•    Robert Patrick (@RobertPatrickT2) [16]: Actor whose breakthrough role came as the legendary T-1000 in Terminator 2.  He has been featured in iconic films such as    “Die Hard 2,” “Last Action Hero,” “Flags of Our Fathers,” “Walk the Line,” and is  currently starring as ‘Agent Cabe Gallow' on CBS’s “Scorpion.”

Mekhi Phifer posed with Suger Ray frontman Mark McGrath and Miss TGPLB Jessica Jenkins. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

•    Mekhi Phifer (@MekhiPhifer) [12]: Actor who portrayed ‘Dr. Greg Pratt’ on NBC’s long-running medical drama “ER,” and had a co-starring role opposite Eminem in the feature film “8 Mile.”  He also starred in the feature film “Divergent” and the upcoming sequel, “Insurgent.”

John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls looks to secure his right shoulder strap of the 5-way seat belt harness before taking to the TGPLB temporary street track for the first time. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

•    John Rzeznik (@JohnRzeznikggd) [11]: Guitarist and frontman of the Goo Goo Dolls, who have sold more than 10 million albums, with 13 Number One and Top Ten hit singles including, “Black Balloon,” “Iris” and “Slide.”  The Goo Goo Dolls are currently touring in support of their 10th studio album, MAGNETIC.

Drivers who will compete in the “Pro-Division,” starting 30 seconds behind the others, include NHRA Top Fuel Champion and four celebrities who have won the Pro/Celebrity Race in past years:

Antron Brown (C) shares picking his car with some of his new found friends (L to R); Willie Gault, Donna Feldman, Jessica Jenkins, and Steve Mason. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

•   Antron Brown (@AntronBrown) [23]: A NHRA 2012 Top Fuel champion.  Brown is the first African American to win the Top Fuel championship.  He is currently driving the Matco Tools Toyota for Don Schumacher Racing in Top Fuel Division.

Brett Davern inspects signatures on the autograph auction helmet. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

•   Brett Davern (@BDavv) [20]: The returning champion of the 2014 Pro/Celebrity Race.  He stars as ‘Jake Rosati' in MTV's hit series “Awkward.”  In 2013, he filmed the Beach Boys bio-pic “Love & Mercy” playing the young ‘Carl Wilson.’ He also played the lead in the feature film “Born to Race 2: Fast Track.”

Alfonso Ribeiro follows in the steps of fellow "Dancing With The Stars" winner, IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves, taking to the streets of Long Beach during the 2015 TGPLB. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

•   Alfonso Ribeiro (Alfonso_Ribeiro) [22]: A two-time Toyota Pro/Celebrity race winner (1994 & 1995). Best-known for his role as ‘Carlton’ on “Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” last season Ribeiro took home the coveted Mirror Ball trophy on  “Dancing With the Stars.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, to your cars, reads Dara Torres' cell phone screen. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

•   Dara Torres (@DaraTorres) [21]: 12-time Olympic medalist swimmer, who was named one of the “Top Female Athletes of the Decade” by Sports Illustrated. In 2002, Torres was the first female celebrity to win the Toyota Pro/Celebrity race, joined in Victory Lane by Pro category winner Danica Patrick.

Rutledge Wood (R) shares a little trash talkin' with fellow Pro driver Brett Davern. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

•    Rutledge Wood (@RutledgeWood) [24]: Co-host of “Top Gear USA,” NBC Sports Reporter, Host of History Channel’s “Lost in Transmission.” Wood won the Pro/Celebrity Race in 2013.

Auction winner driving for charity is Dave Pasant who hopes he doesn't become "Road Hard." Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

Rounding out the field is the Grand Prix Foundation of Long Beach charity auction winner Dave Pasant [7], a retired insurance executive.  Pasant is also an executive producer of the recently released film “Road Hard,” written by and starring Adam Carolla. 

“This is an impressive and competitive group of stars, athletes, musicians and pro drivers that will put on a great show,” Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach said.  “We are excited to have another thrilling year of the Pro/Celebrity Race as part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.  And thanks to Toyota, the Pro/Celebrity Race gives back to kids in our communities through donations to Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach and Children's Hospital of Orange County.”

Since 1991, Toyota has donated more than $2 million to the “Racing for Kids” organization on behalf of this race and its participants.

Fans can follow (and find out about tickets for) the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Facebook at GrandPrixLB, Twitter @ToyotaGPLB (#TGPLB) and Instagram at ToyotaGPLB.

... notes from The EDJE

Saturday, April 4, 2015

#LBePrix (Long Beach Formula E Race) Is A Two-Car One-Driver Affair

A photo posted by Edmund Jenks (@the_edje) on

#LBePrix (Long Beach Formula E Race) Is A Two-Car One-Driver Affair

The FIA, the first sanctioning body to hold a race on the streets of coastal Long Beach city 41 years ago ... that has now become known worldwide as the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (TGPLB), will introduce Los Angeles California to the Formula E electric car racing series. The race will be held on a modified version of the track used by the TGPLB on Saturday, April 4th, 2015 and will feature FREE ADMISSION and is referred to as Long Beach ePrix (or Twitter hastag - #LBePrix).

The specification cars used are the fully-electric Spark-Renault SRT_01E that were built by Spark Racing Technology together with a consortium of the leading manufacturers in the world of motorsport (Top speed: 225km/h - 0-100kph: 3 secs - Gears: 5 - Min weight (inc driver): 896kg - Max power: 200kw / 270bhp).

One of the more interesting elements of an ePrix is that in order to run sustained fast racing level speeds, the race is held with two cars for each driver competing.

Or as the rule states:

Pit stops/Car changes
During races, drivers must make one mandatory pit stop in order to change cars. This must take place in their box and be observed by an FIA steward to ensure all safety equipment is correctly applied. A minimum time period (determined on the day) will also be enforced. Tyre changes, unless a puncture, are not permitted during a pit stop.

A photo posted by Edmund Jenks (@the_edje) on

And that is how it is done - a pit stop car change as performed in the pits on Shoreline Drive pit row at the Formula E #LBePrix by the Virgin Racing Engineering's driver, Sam Bird.

,,, notes from The EDJE

TAGS: FIA Formula E Championship, FIA, Formula E, #LBePrix, Long Beach, Virgin Racing Engineering, Sam Bird, Andretti Autosport, Scott Speed, The EDJE,