Canadian James Hinchcliffe won the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

James Hinchcliffe hoists the Canadian flag in Victory Circle after winning the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach — Photo by: Christopher Owens

Starting from 4th place Car 5 James Hinchcliffe, Honda won the Verizon IndyCar Series Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. This is Hinchcliffe’s 1st win since his big crash at the 2015 Indy 500 practice. He also is the 2nd Canadian driver to win at Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the other driver was Paul Tracy. 2nd Place Car 18 Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, started from 12th place. 3rd Place Car 2 Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, started from 8th place.

James Hinchcliffe, Sebastien Bourdais, and Josef Newgarden hoist their trophies in Victory Circle following the Toyota GrandPrix of Long Beach — Photo by: Christopher Owens

4th Place Car 9 Scott Dixon, Honda, started from 2nd place followed by 5th place Car 1 Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, started from 21st place. 6th Place Car 19 Ed Jones, Honda, started from 13th place followed by 7th place Car 14 Carlos Munoz, Chevrolet, started from 14th place. 8th Place Car 20 Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, started from 19th place started from 9th place Car 3 Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, started from pole. Lastly in the Top 10 was Car 15 Graham Rahal, Honda, in 10th place, started from 6th place.

Scott Dixon and James Hinchcliffe lead the field into Turn 1 during the start of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach — Photo by: Richard Dowdy

The race had 3 Cautions for 11 laps: 1st Caution on lap 1 for Contact: Car 12 Will Power, Chevrolet and Car 83 Charlie Kimball, Honda in Turn 4. 2nd Caution on lap 63 for Tow-In: Car 98 Alexander Rossi, Honda Frontstretch. 3rd Caution on lap 80 for Off Course: Car 98 Alexander Rossi, Honda in Turn 5.

Scott Dixon leads the field to the green flag to start the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach — Photo by: Chris Jones

The race had 6 Lead changes among 3 drivers: Lap Leaders: Dixon 1-15, Hunter-Reay 16-29, Dixon 30-41, Hunter-Reay 42-55, Hinchcliffe 56-57, Dixon 58-62, Hinchcliffe 63-85.

James Hinchcliffe sets up for Turn 3 during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach — Photo by: Richard Dowdy

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Bourdais 93, Hinchcliffe 74, Pagenaud 71, Dixon 70, Newgarden 59, Castroneves 51, Jones 48, Hunter-Reay 46, Sato 43, Andretti 36.

James Hinchcliffe with a champagne shower in Victory Lane following his win in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach — Photo by: Christopher Owens

Hinchcliffe completes comeback with Long Beach victory

LONG BEACH, California (Sunday, April 9, 2017) – James Hinchcliffe is all the way back now.

The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver, seriously injured in an Indianapolis 500 practice crash nearly two years ago, recorded his first Verizon IndyCar Series win since the incident by taking the checkered flag at the prestigious Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Driving the No. 5 Arrow Honda, Hinchcliffe crossed the finish line 1.4940 seconds ahead of Dale Coyne Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais, the winner of last month’s season opener.

Hinchcliffe’s last win came at NOLA Motorsports Park in April 2015, a month before the crash caused when a suspension piece on the car broke at 220-plus mph on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. Hinchcliffe returned to racing last season and captured the Indianapolis 500 pole position, but had yet to win another race until today. “To finally do what was goal No. 1 when we set out at the start of the season, to get back into winner’s circle, to do so as early in the season as we have, as convincingly as we did, was great,” said Hinchcliffe, who recorded the fifth victory of his seven-year Verizon IndyCar Series career.

James Hinchcliffe gives team owner Sam Schmidt a hug after winning the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach — Photo by: Christopher Owens

The Canadian and “Dancing with the Stars” Season 23 runner-up took the lead for good on the 63rd of 85 laps around the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit that hosted Indy cars for the 34th consecutive year. A full-course caution on the same lap to tow in the disabled car of Alexander Rossi helped Hinchcliffe save enough Sunoco E85R fuel to make it to the end and he held off Bourdais in a three-lap dash to the finish following another yellow when Ryan Hunter-Reay, who had been running second, stopped on course with an electrical issue. “After Indy and personally me for Toronto, this is the biggest one to win,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve had a lot of luck here. We’ve been really quick here in the past and to finally get to victory lane here is more than I can put into words. “This place has a lot of history, that’s what drivers really care about. The greatest of the greats have won here. Toronto, Indy and this place were on my bucket list to win before I die, and it’s nice to check one off.”

James Hinchcliffe takes the twin checkers to win the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach — Photo by: Chris Jones

Bourdais, driving the No. 18 Trench Shoring Honda, recovered from rear wing damage sustained from debris when the cars of Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball made contact on Lap 1. Coupled with his win March 12 in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, it gave Bourdais a 19-point lead over Hinchcliffe in the championship after two of 17 races.

“The fuel saving we could achieve today with the performance we had on the Honda was amazing,” said Bourdais, the four-time Indy car champion who won three straight Long Beach races from 2005-07.”I’ve always been pretty comfortable saving fuel and that one sort of came to us today.”

Josef Newgarden finished third in the No. 2 Verizon Chevrolet, earning his best Long Beach result and first top-three finish since joining Team Penske this season.

“It’s always good to get the first podium out of the way for the Captain,” Newgarden said of team owner Roger Penske. “It was a pleasure to drive this weekend. Verizon gives us great tools at Team Penske. It’s nice to get this one out of the way. Hopefully now we can hunt down some wins.”

Last year’s Long Beach winner and Verizon IndyCar Series champion, Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud, charged from last on the 21-car starting grid to finish fifth. Bourdais’ teammate at Dale Coyne Racing, Ed Jones, placed sixth to notch his second straight top-10 finish to start his rookie season.

Last-lap contact between Mikhail Aleshin and JR Hildebrand sent Hildebrand’s No. 21 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet into the Turn 1 tire barrier. According to INDYCAR Medical Director Dr. Geoffrey Billows, the Ed Carpenter Racing driver sustained a broken bone in his left hand, was not cleared to drive and will be re-evaluated later this week. Aleshin was penalized by INDYCAR for blocking and moved back one position in the final results to 12th place.

“I was making a move on Mikhail Aleshin and I could tell he was struggling,” Hildebrand said. “I was out of push-to-pass so I was trying to make a proper, full-out pass down the front straightaway.

He had been starting to move over, not a major blocking maneuver but enough to assert his line. He hit the brake a lot earlier than I was expecting and I ended up running into the back of him. “In doing so, it ripped the steering wheel from my hand and I ended up tweaking (the hand). … Hopefully I can get back to it here before the next race.”

The next event on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule is the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama from the Barber Motorsports Park 2.3-mile permanent road course in Birmingham, Alabama. The April 23 race airs live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

James Hinchcliffe screams down Shoreline Drive during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach — Photo by: Chris Jones

Celebrities add further sizzle to Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is annually one of the biggest draws on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule for celebrities and today was no exception.

New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman took Honda’s Fastest Seat in Sports thrill ride, speeding around the temporary street course ahead of the 21-car field of Indy cars to start the race. Edelman, whose jaw-dropping, fourth-quarter reception in Super Bowl LI is already legendary, was a thrilled passenger in the custom, two-seat Indy car driven by someone else familiar with legends, racing icon Mario Andretti.

“Holy smokes, that was awesome!” Edelman said after stepping out of the car. “It was fun, I had a blast. I want to go start racing now. I think I chose the wrong sport! No, but it was fun.

“You definitely feel those Gs and you feel the acceleration of that thing. You see how close they get to the walls. A couple times they get about 5 or 6 inches away from (the wall) and the skill that they have to have to be able to do that is unreal. Your appreciation for this goes to a whole new level. I’m speechless.”

University of Southern California football coach Clay Helton was the grand marshal and issued the command for drivers to start their engines for the race. Other celebrities spotted at the race included: actress and model Chloe Grace Moretz, known for “Carrie” and “Let Me In;” Tory Belleci of MythBusters” and “White Rabbit Project;” comedian Jeff Ross; “Vampire Diaries” actress Nina Dobrev and Terra Jole, the reality show star who appeared last fall with race winner James Hinchcliffe in “Dancing with the Stars.”

Hinchcliffe’s professional partner on the dance competition show, Sharna Burgess, visited with him earlier in the weekend. NFL analyst Rich Eisen also took a two-seater ride with Mario Andretti.

Actresses Chloë Grace Moretz and Sasha Lane with Mario Andretti prior to their two-seater rides at Long Beach — Photo by: Chris Jones

Harvey named to fifth Andretti Autosport entry for Indy 500

Jack Harvey is already a winning driver at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The talented Brit believes he has stepped into a winning situation for the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

Harvey was named today by Andretti Autosport to drive its No. 50 Honda in the May 28 race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a partnership with longtime team sponsor AutoNation. Harvey, winner of 2015 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires races on both the IMS road course and oval, will make his Verizon IndyCar Series debut as the fifth Andretti Autosport Indy 500 entry alongside full-
season drivers Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi and Takuma Sato.

“To get my first opportunity to drive with Andretti Autosport is a dream come true because everybody knows what a great team they are,” he added. “There’s nobody that has a better opportunity than what I’ve got. I think a lot of the regular-season drivers would like to have this also.”

Harvey, who turns 24 on April 15, finished second in the Indy Lights championship in both 2014 and ’15, winning a total of six races. Michael Andretti, CEO of Andretti Autosport, recognized Harvey’s talent and believes he’ll be competitive in the fifth team entry. Andretti also pointed out that it was his rookie driver, Rossi, who won last year’s historic 100th Indy 500.

“We feel very confident that Jack’s going to be able to do a good job for us, contribute to the effort of the other four cars. … I think he has a shot at winning at least rookie of the year, outside chance at winning the race. We saw a rookie won there last year, right? You never know.”

AutoNation’s involvement with the entry will focus on its Drive Pink campaign that has raised $10 million in the past three years to fight cancer. Hunter-Reay and Harvey will be featured in upcoming promotions for the campaign, said Marc Cannon, AutoNation chief marketing officer and executive vice president. The car’s number, 50, was selected to honor the 50 million customers that
AutoNation, America’s largest auto retailer, has served.

‘What They’re Saying’ from the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was exciting. At the beginning we were able to pass a lot of cars. The Menards Chevrolet was phenomenal all weekend. I was really excited before the race because I knew we had such a strong weapon. It was all about having the right strategy to make it work. We actually switched strategies because it was going so well at the beginning. The flat tire set us back a little, but it was a good championship day. I’m so proud of the team. Everyone worked really hard to come out of here with a good result.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “I think it got a lot more mixed up with the strategy today. (Scott) Dixon and me were on something different than the front guys, (Ryan) Hunter-Reay, (James Hinchcliffe), (Alexander) Rossi. I thought that added a dynamic that was more fun than last year. Everyone was on the same strategy last year, which let the race play out to not much action, unfortunately. This year was a lot more mixed up. I did way more passing than I’ve done in the past couple years. I thought it was an exciting race. For us on Team Penske, it was a good day. The Verizon Hum car, we had a strong car underneath us all day. I felt about it good in warmup. We had a car that was capable of challenging for the win if everything fell correctly. Our strategy didn’t play out with that last yellow. It just allowed everyone to catch up on fuel a little bit. We were on the same strategy at the end fuel-wise. Our strategy of trying to run those guys down at the end and be fast wasn’t really able to play out, which is unfortunate, but that’s how racing goes. You have to choose one strategy and hope it plays out for you. Today it got us close. Third place is something we can roll with, try to get a win.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet): “It just wasn’t our day. The Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet was really fast but we had a few other problems that kind of ruined the day. I think we had some electronic problems that caused us to mess up the start of the race and the pit road speeding penalties. We’ll regroup and head to Barber. One of these days all of this bad luck will even out. It can’t come soon enough.”

CONOR DALY (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Chevrolet): “I have no idea what happened at the start–just massive power delivery and I just lost it. It was probably my fault but it was really unexpected. We’d been OK out of there all weekend long. The rest of the day struggled when the car was on overtake, a lot of vibrations so we couldn’t use it. It left us a little helpless. The ABC car was actually OK –pretty decent handling so maybe we could have fought for that top 10. Once we fell behind it was hard to make up. We’re still finishing races and still learning.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach race winner): “A lot has changed since the last time we were sitting up here. It’s just so nice to be back. We came really close last year. A lot of people talked about 2016 as sort of the comeback year. Personally we really wanted to as a team to put an exclamation point on that by coming to
Victory Lane. We came as close as humanly possible in Texas last year. Didn’t quite get the job done. We were sore to not win a race last year. We worked hard this off-season to perfect the package we had. Good speed at a lot of races last year. To roll off the first two races of the season, being in the Fast Six both times, if not for a caution falling for the wrong time at St. Pete, could have been in the top five or on podium there. To do it here and finally at this place, a track that I love so much, a track that’s been very good to me in my career, one that I think is the Indy 500 of street tracks, it’s the second longest running race after the 500. I think because of that history, it makes it a very special event, one that every driver wants to win. The greats have all raced here, the greats have all won here. To get in the winner’s circle was huge.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Honda): “It was a long day. We went pretty erratic with the setup. We have been struggling as a car team, not overall, just the No. 8 car, so we went to a different setup and didn’t like it, so it was a long afternoon. At that point you just need to be able to race. I think I did all right but I didn’t move forward. It was the first weekend we have had in quite a while now where we haven’t been improving. We will look into what is going on and see if we can get better for the Barber race.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 NTT Data Honda): “We got a great start in the NTT Data car and were just cruising along there making good fuel mileage. We came in to pit shortly after and that ended up shuffling things up a bit on strategy. But the car was great and the team worked really hard. It was pretty hard to pass at the end, which is typical for street races as we all know. So fourth was how it played out. We’ve qualified very well the first two races so hopefully we can convert that into a win really soon.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Honda): “This was a rough weekend for the No.10 NTT Data Honda. We had some contact on the first lap and had to come in for a new front wing and later in the race we made contact and had a cut left rear that we had to come in and change unexpectedly. We were just never able to get back up with the front runners.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was a tough day for the No. 12 Verizon Chevy. We were caught up in an incident early in the race and I feel like it really ruined my day. It was an awful situation to be put in since we had nowhere to go when we made contact with the wall. Still, we battled. I’m really proud of my guys for working as hard as they did to try and come back from the incident but we couldn’t. We’re ready to head to Barber and get another chance to perform well.”

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Finally got some good points for Foyt — finishing seventh after a hard weekend. We think that’s the best position we could have had. We improved the ABC Supply Chevrolet a lot but it’s still not there. Still need to improve but I’m really happy with my crew and my engineers. The guys did an awesome job in the pits-it was their first race doing pit stops together and they did a really good job. Hopefully we keep it up all year long.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 PennGrade Motor Oil Honda): “We got a good start and passed (Alexander) Rossi and Helio Castroneves for fourth. I felt like we were in a pretty good place to settle in but it became apparent that a lot of guys around me weren’t going to save fuel like I was. I tried to just keep pace but struggled pretty hard on the first stint with a bit of an issue with the front tires. On the second stint we were as good as anybody but when it came down to it, we had lost too much time in the first stint. It was disappointing to get the puncture, this PennGrade team deserved more than that. Yes it’s a top-10 but it’s not going to help us in the point standings very much and we definitely need a lot of those.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Trench Shoring Honda): “That was an incredible race. At the beginning, somebody lost an end plate or something. It flew by, I dodged it in the car, it went really close and it ripped off the whole left side of the rear wing and rear pod and that’s why we came in so early. It gave us a couple of laps to save fuel, but we played to our strengths. I’ve always been pretty comfortable saving fuel and that one kind of came to us. I was just really surprised that no one played the game. It was feasible fuel wise, for us at least. Good job by Honda, obviously. We lost balance a little bit at the end so I was just trying to hang on to second place. James (Hinchcliffe) really deserved that one. He looked very comfortable and quick up front and I didn’t really have the balance at the end to go challenge him so I just managed for second place. I was kind of thinking Championship a little bit out there! I don’t know that we’re a contender but we’ll find out. We’ll have stayed up there for two races so that’s not too bad.”

ED JONES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): “It’s great to be in the top 10 again with a sixth. Another great effort by the team as well with Seb finishing second. I said this at St. Pete, it shows the effort that Dale has put into the team with the drivers, engineers, the development, the whole package to take the team to another level this year and the proof is the first two races. It’s clear to see. I’m really excited. We made big jumps this weekend from St. Pete and I can’t wait to get to Barber to make even more. It was a tough race, I was fighting people every stint which is great to do. I had some good battles and at the end it was nice to have the yellow to close everything up a bit. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the pace to attack Pagenaud in front of me but still, it was a good result and I can’t wait for the next one.”

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Preferred Freezer Service Chevrolet): “At the end of the race, we all were bunched back up because of that last yellow. I was on reds and had a little bit for at least the handful of cars in front of us. On the last lap, I was making a move on Mikhail Aleshin and I could tell he was struggling. I was out of push-to-pass so I was trying to make a proper, full-out pass down he front straightaway. He had been starting to move over, not a major blocking maneuver but enough to assert his line. He hit the brake a lot earlier than I was expecting and I ended up running into the back of him. In doing so, it ripped the steering wheel from my hand and I ended up tweaking it. At the end of the day, to come home with an 11th place finish isn’t terrible. It is a bummer though as we were certainly on our way to finishing in the top 10 and now we are in a bit of a jam going forward. Hopefully I can get back to it here before the next race.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): “It was a long and tough day. We went a different way with strategy and dedicated to a three-stop race. It just didn’t flow as we wished. In the end, we lost power and had to park. Certainly, after practice and qualifying and this morning I felt really strong in the car and it’s a shame we couldn’t finish… but we will work to come back strong.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda): “We had a decent start to the day, and the three-stop strategy would have been interesting. The UFD car had good pace and the boys were good in the pits on the first stop, then we had a sensor issue and our day was done. We need to pull back together and play catch up.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “We had a good showing for DHL and Honda today, but I don’t know what happened. It was something electrical. I tried cycling the car a few times and it didn’t fire. Then, once we had sat (in the runoff) for a few moments, we tried flipping a few switches and it fired back up again but it was too late to rejoin the race. It felt like the same issue we had at Pocono (2016). It really hurts when it’s that close to the end and I was closing on (Hinchcliffe); we were going to have a good showdown there at the end. That’s why this sport can be so rewarding and so cruel, there’s nothing you can do. Frustrating for sure but today it was out of our hands.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Tresiba Honda): “To say I am frustrated with how today’s race went is an understatement. I thought I was clear of the 12 but I obviously wasn’t. He turned me and put me in the wall pretty heavy. I am really disappointed for the guys – they worked so hard to get the car to a good place for today’s race. The No. 83 Tresiba Honda was fast and I thought we had a lot of
potential for a solid result in today’s race.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Honda): “I thought we had a really good shot at winning. The pace of the car was really good all day and we were able to recover from a little bit of a tricky pit stop sequence on the first stop, so it’s unfortunate because the NAPA Auto Parts car was awesome. We’ll just have to fight back at Barber. Honda has done an amazing job so it’s
unfortunate, but congrats to Honda and Hinch on the win.”

LONG BEACH, California – Results Sunday of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 1.968-mile Long Beach street circuit, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, Car #, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (4) Car 5 James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 85, Running
2. (12) Car 18 Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 85, Running
3. (8) Car 2 Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 85, Running
4. (2) Car 9 Scott Dixon, Honda, 85, Running
5. (21) Car 1 Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 85, Running
6. (13) Car 19 Ed Jones, Honda, 85, Running
7. (14) Car 14 Carlos Munoz, Chevrolet, 85, Running
8. (19) Car 20 Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 85, Running
9. (1) Car 3 Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 85, Running
10. (6) Car 15 Graham Rahal, Honda, 85, Running
11. (15) Car 21 JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 84, Contact
12. (16) Car 7 Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 84, Running
13. (9) Car 12 Will Power, Chevrolet, 84, Running
14. (20) Car 8 Max Chilton, Honda, 84, Running
15. (11) Car 10 Tony Kanaan, Honda, 84, Running
16. (17) Car 4 Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 84, Running
17. (3) Car 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 79, Off Course
18. (18) Car 26 Takuma Sato, Honda, 78, Off Course
19. (5) Car 98 Alexander Rossi, Honda, 62, Mechanical
20. (10) Car 27 Marco Andretti, Honda, 14, Off-Course
21. (7) Car 83 Charlie Kimball, Honda, 1, Contact

Race Statistics:
Winners average speed: 90.845 mph
Time of Race: 1:50:28.9818
Margin of victory: 1.4940 seconds
Cautions: 3 for 11 laps
Lead changes: 6 among 3 drivers
Time of Race: 01:50:28.9818 Fastest Lap: 104.542 mph (1:07.7696) on Lap 59 by 3 – Helio Castroneves
Fastest Leader Lap: 104.314 mph (1:07.9177) on Lap 79 by 5 – James Hinchcliffe
Verizon P1 Award: Helio Castroneves (01:06.2254, 106.980 mph)

Next Race: April 23 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, Barber Motorsports Park

IndyCar
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Graphics & Photos Courtesy of Indycar

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