Predictions – Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

IndyCar returns to sunny Southern California as the series takes two its second consecutive street course.  Coming off of an impressive win in St. Petersburg, Sebastian Bourdais will be looking to continue his success, as will defending series champion Simon Pagneaud.  But who will take home the prize?

 

The Track

In layout, Long Beach is very similar to St Pete and the other street tracks on the 2017 Verizon IndyCar circuit.  It features many tight, winding turns with one long straight.  Mechanical grip is at a premium around such tracks, so do not be surprised to see Honda be strong once again.

There is projected to be rain in Los Angeles tonight, which should throw an interesting wrench into tomorrow’s qualifying (and completely confuddle all resident’s of LA).  The lack of existing rubber caused by the rain should benefit Honda’s increased mechanical grip.  The Chevy’s may be slipping and sliding, especially early on.

Come race day, if the rain holds off, Chevy could make a strong run through the field, providing for an exciting race.

 

The Race

Honda will do well, and if practice times are to be believed, the best Honda teams look like Andretti and Coyne.  And, as usual, Penske leading the pack when it comes to Chevy.

I’m slightly concerned by Ganssi as well.  Despite Scott Dixon posting a top time in P1, the rest of the team appears way down the list.  And it P2, the Ganassi name doesn’t appear until 6th place, nearly six tenths off the pace, that was for Scott Dixon.  After him we don’t see another Ganassi driver until Tony Kanaan’s lowly 13th.  I think it’s starting to look like, after a lackluster opening, Ganassi may not have had made the best decision in jumping to Honda.

Penske looks decent, with their three best drivers (Power, Pagenaud, and Castroneves) all running within a half a second on of another.  They will be a threat tomorrow, but as I’ve said, reduced grip post rain will hamper the Chevys.  They could make a massive push in the race, however, and make for a spectacular race as they cut their way through the field.

By the looks of the time sheets, I have to say Andretti Autosports is the best position of any team.  Alex Rossi notwithstanding, the team is running within a second of each other.  They look fast, sharp, and the cars don’t appear to be sliding around too much.  And I hate to jump on this bandwagon, but this is a track that Marco has had some success on before.  Could this be the race he breaks his slump?

Things looked promising for Coyne as well with Bourdais running strong in both P1 and P2.  As of now, I see no reason why the Frenchmen couldn’t make this a 1-2 for the small team.

 

Predictions:

Quals: 1) Hunter-Reay, 2) Power, 3) Bourdais

Race: 1) Andretti, 2)Hunter-Reay, 3) Power

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