Mike Conway is the second driver for a one-car team. He was brought on to bring a winning edge to road and temporary street courses while the owner/driver, Ed Carpenter, focuses on his specialty of left-turn only racetracks. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)
Conway passes from P17 to win the 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
The annual springtime motor sports ritual that set the table for modern day temporary street automobile racing events held its fortieth edition last weekend and it ended predictably ... sort of.
The 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach ended script-like to the casual observer, in that this street course favors drivers who figure out how to get the most out of off-camber concrete corners cradled in unforgiving walls of tire-lined concrete and rewards them with multiple wins - or at the very least, a high finishing order good for Verizon IndyCar Series championship points.
The podium finishing order would buttress this contention with Ed Carpenter Racing's street and road course driving specialist Mike Conway bringing home his second win here in three years, followed closely by Penske Racing's Will Power who was already a two-time winner, in 2008 and 2011, and keeping pace at P3 was Andretti Autosport rookie driver Carlos Munoz who had won here at Long Beach last year when he was in IndyLights.
Qualifications, however, delivered decidedly different results. A hat-trick of poor performance had the winning drivers of the last three years of the Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach missing out on the second round of Knock-Out qualifying structure which ends with the fastest six survivors of the previous two rounds race for the best time to settle the top six positions of the special 40th Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach standing start East of the Start/Finish line on Shoreline Drive.
Will Power stated that this year, he will not be worrying about the championship but only on wins. He has come to realize after being the 'bridesmaid' for so many championships that winning is the only thing. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)
With last year's winner AJ Foyt Racing's Takuma Sato lining up at P15, 2011 winner Conway sitting at P17, and 2012 winner Power holding station at P14, it looked as though the script would favor a winner from the top ten positions - assuming few local Yellow Flags, great weather, and little passing.
This would leave the prediction to be a new winner presumably from Andretti Autosport's James Hinchcliffe, Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing's Josef Newgarden, BHA / BBM with Curb-Agajanian rookie driver Jack Hawksworth, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Simon Pagenaud, Target Chip Ganassi Racing and 2013 ICS champion Scott Dixon, Andretti Autosport's Marco Andretti, and Dale Coyne Racing's Justin Wilson, or a repeat win from pole sitter Andretti Autosport 2012 ICS champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, Penske Racing 2001 TGPLB winner Helio Castroneves, and KVSH Racing 4-time champion and past 2005, 2006, and 2007 TGPLB winner Sebastien Bourdais.
After showing that he is really ready to drive in the big leagues through P2 finishing position at the big show ... the 2013 Indy 500, Carlos proves he's ready for the temporary street courses as well with a podium finish at the 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. 5 starts | 2 Top 5 finishes | 2 Top 10 finishes. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)
This excerpted and edited from New Track Record -
IndyCar edgy at Long Beach
By Mark Wilkinson - New Track Record, Published 14 April, 2014
The Verizon IndyCar Series has taken on a country club feel in recent years. The drivers are all buddies. Before the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, James Hinchliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay even joked on camera about flipping a coin to see who was going to lead the first lap. I wonder if those two still had their senses of humor after the race.
Humor is nothing new in IndyCar. Eddie Sachs was known as “the clown prince of racing” in the 60′s. Bobby Unser was not only shockingly honest as a racer and an announcer, he was also a born storyteller. Still is. A.J. Foyt’s humor was always sharp and biting. Still is. So it is nothing new that today’s racers are funny. What’s different is the politically correct way they interact. The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach certainly changed all that.
To spice up the broadcast, NBCSN brought in Paul Tracy, four-time Long Beach winner and notorious truth-teller. Everyone just knew he would stir the pot a little bit. Sadly, PT was just another talking head, saying nothing controversial. Sigh. I am sure he will get the message to go find the real Paul Tracy.
This all leads us to how a pretty good race became an entertaining one. Bad moves led to bad feelings, sheepish honesty, and a few apologies that may or may not have been accepted. Hopefully, it will lead to a little ill will. Then maybe Paul Tracy can get on board and put the hammer down on some people.
The irony in the series is delicious right now. The top dogs were forced to act like contrite backmarkers. Scott Dixon apologized for pushing Justin Wilson into the wall and the apology was UNACCEPTED. Will Power apologized for punting Simon Pagenaud with his usual it’s-my-fault-that-it’s-your-fault line and the apology was UNACCEPTED. Ryan Hunter-Reay apologized by saying a real racer goes for it when he sees the chance at exactly the wrong spot and his apology was UNACCEPTED. I just love to see the shifty-eyed apologies of schoolboys caught in the act without a plausible story to tell. Not ironically, Graham Rahal was his usual self and refused to accept any blame for anything. Never change, Graham. Both Michael Andretti and James Hinchcliffe were less than pleased with Hunter-Reay’s antics.
Simmering feuds, unaccepted apologies, and possibly a little bit of hate await us at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.
It’s good to see some of the politically correct veneer come off the series. This is the racing and these are the racers people want to see.
Paul Tracy wasn't all that exclusively PC during the broadcast ... he did muse that if a Beaux Barfield sensibility toward Race Control had been in play when he was driving, he would have been penalized way less and won a whole lot more races.
Also, The Mayor of Hinchtown momentarily became the Sheriff and was laying down the law when he said he really didn't expect such a 'Rookie Move' and that he felt sorry for Newgarden, himself and all of the other drivers that had to be caught up in the mess at Turn #4.
THIS is entertaining competition for all … not wimpy, even though the whole deal looked as though it went by the script — few local Yellow Flags, good weather, and little passing until Lap 56. If that actually happened (save one rookie move), Ryan Hunter-Reay would have been a repeat winner with James Hinchcliffe (would have remained a Mayor) at P2, and Newgarden’s cold black tires would have warmed up and he probably would own the last position on the podium.
A big 'rookie move' wreck in Turn 4, a blocked track Yellow Flag on Lap 56 of 80, and passing from P17 ... past P16 Penske Racing's 1999 TGPLB winner Juan Montoya, P15 Taku, P14 Power, P13 Kanaan, P12 Servia, P11 Munoz, and etc. through to P1 holder TCGR's Scott Dixon (who had to stop for fuel on Lap78), Mike Conway establishes Ed Carpenter Racing as an early odds-on contender for a team championship in 2014 with a repeat win for the 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach ... predictably, just like the script.
... notes from The EDJE