39th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach



It was now time for the main event of the weekend, the IZOD Indycar Series!  True open wheel enthusiasts usually have an issue with these cars and the additional changes made to the body work this year is definitely not going to please those folks.  As you can see from the picture above, the front wing endplates extend the length of the car's track width now.


Looking at what surrounds the rear wheels, you can clearly see just how enclosed the wheels are.  The cars really are a couple panels away from looking like prototype racers.


But no matter what side of the open-wheel argument you are on, there is no denying the outright speed and awesomeness of these cars once they are at full speed.  The side by side starts and restarts also contribute to the excitement of the racing.  Though the cars may be close to being closed wheel racers, it still does not take much to make a panel or two go flying off.  Lets also not forget that these cars have no traction control either, so that has to give some validity to the driver's race craft.

Honda had a very good showing during qualifying taking 4 of the top 6 pole positions.  Something they desperately needed since they are trailing Chevrolet in the manufacturer's championship.  Dario Franchitti and Will Power were both in the top 3 and had their eyes and hopes set on bringing home the win for their teams and Honda.


Here's a rare shot of Will Power in front of the pack.  Power and his team were plagued with problems all weekend.  Everything from being down on power to pit stop issues prevented last year's winner from defending his title.  A perfect example of the team's bad luck this past weekend was displayed during one of their last pit stops.  When Power was coming in, the team pitted behind him released their driver right as Power was coming in to his pit.  The #55 of Tristan Vautier made contact with Power damaging the right rear pod of his car.  When Power's pit was complete he even stalled the car!  Then to add insult to injury, after he went back out he had to immediately come back in since the team did not realize the extent of the damage to the rear pod.  When it rains it pours…


Long time veteran Takuma Sato had a clean race and led the majority of the laps.  He's raced in F1 and Indy for over a decade, but has yet to bring home a checkered flag.


Like any other form of racing, strategy plays a huge role in IndyCar.  Lets take a closer look at how the tire game played out during this race.  With about 27 laps to go in the race the top four cars were on the Firestone “reds” which grip better, but drop off much quicker than the standard black sidewall tires.  With 27 laps left the top 4 teams were taking a risk, as the reds are usually good for less than 20 laps.  


Frustrated and wanting to make something happen, Ryan Hunter Ray ran out of skill trying to make a pass on turn 8.  Tried to make a pass on the inside of 8 and just simply carried way to much speed and understeered right into the tire barrier.  That would be the end of his day.


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