By Dylan Reynolds, The Open Wheel
The Verizon IndyCar Series returns this weekend to glitzy Long Beach for the 43rd Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The Open Wheel will be covering the action all weekend so stay tuned to this site and our Twitter page @openwh33l for all of the latest news.
Photo by Chris Owens/INDYCAR
Verizon IndyCar Series Preview: 43rd Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Sunday, April 9 4:00PM (ET) NBCSN – Simon Pagenaud’s win at Long Beach last year kicked off the three race winning streak that defined his championship-winning season. Surprisingly, Pagenaud’s 2016 win was just Team Penske’s second win in eight races since the Verizon IndyCar Series took over the Long Beach event from Champ Car. Previous driver experience at Long Beach shows there are seven former winners in the field this season in Sebastien Bourdais (3), Will Power (2), Helio Castroneves (1), Scott Dixon (1), Ryan Hunter-Reay (1), Simon Pagenaud (1), and Takuma Sato (1). Looking at box scores from 2016 and 2015, Pagenaud, Dixon, and Castroneves each finished in the Top 5 at Long Beach over the last two years (as had Juan Pablo Montoya). Sato, Bourdais, Tony Kanaan, and Josef Newgarden each have consecutive Top 10 finishes. My pick to win: Will Power – Will Power was my pick for St. Pete, won the pole, and led early before having some bad luck with pit strategy and eventual mechanical issues. He has six Top 5 starts and six Top 3 finishes in 11 starts at Long Beach. He’s due for some good luck at Long Beach after poor finishes the last couple years relative to his usual results on a street course.
My fantasy.indycar.com picks: Will Power, Sebastien Bourdais, Ryan Hunter-Reay, JR Hildebrand – You know my thoughts on Will Power. Bourdais has been blazing fast this year in any situation and has three wins at Long Beach. Ryan Hunter-Reay had a rocket ship at St. Pete and should be fast once again. He has a win at Long Beach and always seems to be a factor at some point in the race. I always try to squeeze in a “budget” pick and I like JR Hildebrand at only $17. ECR has had some strong cars at Long Beach in the past and Hildebrand has two Top 5 finishes in three Long Beach starts.