Who wins Sunday’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach (3 p.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network)

TRACK: Streets of Long Beach (1.968-mile, 11-turn street course), DISTANCE: 85 Laps (167 miles)

Race Schedule

Coverage: 3 p.m. ET

Command: 3:38 p.m. ET

Green Flag: 3:45 p.m. ET

TV: NBC

Radio: INDYCAR Radio Network (Sirius 160, local affiliates here)

Computer: racecontrol.indycar.com

Phone: INDYCAR App

Track: Streets of Long Beach

Distance: 85 Laps/167.28 Miles

Weather: upper 60’s, sunny

Spotter Guide

Who Wins?

Team Penske is 2-for-2 this season and has combined to win 5 of the last 11 street course races in the NTT INDYCAR Series. They’ve not only won both races (St. Pete, Texas) but also have won 1 of the 2 poles and 2nd in the other as well as taken 4 of the 6 podium spots at that.

Andretti Autosport has dominated the last 3 races on the streets of Long Beach but are struggling at the start of this year. They currently sit 7-10-27-28 in points.

However, Penske also also won just 1 of the last 8 Long Beach Grand Prix’s. Josef Newgarden has never won Long Beach but does have three podiums in his last four tries including six straight top 10’s. He’s had seven top twos in his last 10 street races starts including right here last September. He’s coming off of a win in Texas. The thing is, he’s only went back-to-back in terms of 2 straight wins just once in his career (2017). That includes his five win Indy Lights season back in 2011 too. He starts 2nd.

Out of Will Power’s 40 Indy Car wins, 15 have come on these types of tracks, but his last coming in 2016. He was on the podium in St. Pete this February and also did have a trio of top-10 finishes in last season’s street races. His best effort actually came in the first race at Detroit where he finished 20th. He had led a race-high 37 laps and was leading when a red flag halted the race for an on-track incident. Power’s car would not fire back up due to an electrical issue when the race resumed with five laps to go and Ericsson became the benefactor of his misfortune. He’s scored two wins and three runner-ups at Long Beach including three top sevens in his last five starts there. He was third and fourth to start the season off with too. He rolls of 7th.

Scott McLaughlin started on the pole and won in St. Pete so he’s another viable option. The thing is, he only starts 9th.

Out of the Andretti drivers?

Alexander Rossi led 71 of 85 laps in 2018 and 80 of 85 in 2019. Colton Herta led 43 of 85 last year for his second street course victory of last season. Devlin DeFrancesco is a rookie and Romain Grosjean was in the top five in St. Pete in his first Andretti start.

Andretti and Penske swept the front row with Herta and Newgarden starting 1-2. In fact, AA and Penske snagged six of the top nine starting spots.

They’re the favorites still.

Can Chip Ganassi Racing have a chance? The thing is, Scott Dixon is only 1-for-12 at Long Beach with the team not having won a race there since Dixon’s triumph in 2015. That’s their long victory in the last 11 tries on the scenic California race track. Dixon, has a pair of top 10s in two races run this season but has just 1 win in his last 24 starts overall dating back to the second Gateway race in 2020. He had six wins in the 20 races prior as this span between wins is the second longest of his career. The other was 39 races between wins at Richmond in 2003 and Watkins Glen in 2005 as well as 36 races between his win in Nazareth during the 2001 season and his next victory in the 2003 season opener in Homestead. In fact, Dixon has just 6 podiums in his last 24 starts compared to 20 in his previous 31. Can he come out of this slump this weekend? He only starts 16th.

Defending series champion Alex Palou told me earlier this week that he’s still not comfortable on street courses despite a runner-up in St. Pete. Jimmie Johnson is also still new to this while Marcus Ericsson (2 wins on street courses last year) may be their top pick.

Does that open the door for someone else then?

We’ve had 6 different teams win the last 8 races on the streets of Long Beach. We’ve had 9 different drivers win the last 12 street course races in general but they all hail from either PenskeGanassiAndretti or Arrow McLaren SP.

These teams make up 10 of the top 11 starting spots.

5 of the last 6 Long Beach winners started in the top 2 Rows. 3 of the top 4 starters for Sunday’s race belong to Andretti, Penske and Ganassi.

Picks:

  1. 26 Herta – 4 of his 6 career wins, he won from the pole. He won from 14th last year. Now, he’s on the pole again.
  2. 2 Newgarden – He was runner-up last year for three podiums in his last four tries including six straight top 10’s at Long Beach.
  3. 27 Rossi – I think he’s aggressive enough to get his 3rd podium in his last 4 Long Beach starts.
  4. 10 Palou – He’s been solid on street courses and does enough to get another top five.
  5. 12 Power – 2 straight top 5’s to start the season so why not a 3rd?

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