What did we learn from the second race of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season? Here are our takeaways from the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
The Verizon IndyCar Series returned with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which picked up where the league left off. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ James Hinchcliffe put another Honda from a small team in Victory Lane by earning his first win in two years.
Meanwhile, Simon Pagenaud reaffirmed the notion that you can qualify terribly and finish the race well by delivering a second comeback performance in two weeks. The man who gave us the first, Sebastien Bourdais, just calmly drove his way into second place like he was on cruise control. And at least he had control, unlike a couple of other cars.
If you missed any of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, you can catch up with the on-track action with our results post here.
Here are our takeaways from the 2017 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach:
1) Yep, Dale Coyne Racing is a legitimate spoiler team
This week’s first takeaway is confirmation of last week’s first takeaway: Dale Coyne Racing is an actual threat for the IndyCar title. Sebastien Bourdais is your championship leader by more than 20 points after finishing as the runner-up at Long Beach. The last time a driver started the year with back to back top 2 results? His name was Simon Pagenaud and he won the Astor Cup.
Meanwhile, Bourdais’ rookie partner Ed Jones continues to impress. Jones is now seventh in points after coming home sixth on Sunday. Could he succeed Alexander Rossi as the rookie that everyone is raving about? He’s certainly building up a resume early.
2) Mechanical gremlins are real
Speaking of Rossi, you have to feel for the young man and several of his teammates today. Three Andretti Autosport cars were struck by mechanical problems during the Grand Prix of Long Beach. Rossi was running toward the top of the field when his car suddenly decided it didn’t want to drive him anywhere anymore.
Ditto for Ryan Hunter-Reay, who was actually second when the No. 28 DHL Honda threw in the towel. And then there was Marco Andretti, for whom his engineering problem spoiled a strong qualifying result.
None of these incidents were related. Bad luck just decided it was going to strike three-fourths of the same team in the same race. You can’t make this stuff up.
3) The universe dislikes Will Power (or is it Charlie Kimball?)
Sunday’s only wreck came early. As in, first lap early. Will Power ran into the back end of Charlie Kimball’s No. 83 Tresiba Honda, and that was it for Kimball while Power was able to continue but only finished mid-pack.
It’s hard to tell who the universe dislikes more at the moment. Is it Power, who won the pole at St. Pete and then had constant problems in the actual race? Or is it Kimball, who was also involved in the early wreck with Graham Rahal in that season opener? Either way, their first-lap contact was like some sort of cruel cosmic joke. And we weren’t laughing.
4) Marco Andretti gets no respect
Andretti is probably the best-known surname in IndyCar. Which is why it made no sense that the graphics team at the Grand Prix of Long Beach misspelled Marco Andretti’s name on the side of the truck taking him around on his pre-race parade lap. The vehicle’s sticker clearly read “Marco Anderetti.”
It’s an embarrassing gaffe, moreso because everyone who’s even remotely aware of IndyCar has heard of the Andretti family. It’s not a particularly difficult name either. And it was just insult ahead of injury for Marco, who had no idea of the technical issues that were about to doom his race. What does he have to do to get some respect?
For Marco Andretti’s perspective on the 2017 IndyCar season, you can read our interview with him here.
The next Verizon IndyCar Series race is the 2017 Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix on Sunday, April 23 at Phoenix Raceway in Phoenix, AZ. Until then follow along with IndyCar by checking out the Motor Sports category at FanSided here.