Saturday’s knockout qualifying rounds will more than likely shape how the podium looks for Sunday’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach (3 p.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network). 6 of the past 7 Long Beach Grand Prix race winners have each started in the top 2 Rows, including 3 of the last 4 from the front row. Colton Herta was 14th in 2021.
So, that favors: Kyle Kirkwood, Marcus Ericsson, Romain Grosjean and Alex Palou.
Also, we’ve seen 6 different teams win the last 9 races on the streets of Long Beach too.
If you go back to the start of the 2019 season however, we’ve had 17 races on these type of tracks with 9 different winners in them. Josef Newgarden (4 wins), Scott Dixon (3 wins), Marcus Ericsson (3 wins) and Colton Herta (2 wins) are the only multi-time winners.
The big teams are strong on them with Penske winning 7 of those last 17 races, Ganassi with 5 and Andretti with 3. Arrow McLaren SP is the only other team to have won.
Penske won 3 of the 5 last year with Ganassi and Scott Dixon taking the other two. Ganassi (Marcus Ericsson) is 1-for-1 this year to total three straight street course wins heading into Sunday’s race at Long Beach.
13 of the top 14 starters in the season opener at St. Pete belonged to Penske, Ganassi, Andretti and McLaren. The entire podium belonged to these teams (Ganassi-McLaren-Ganassi).
So, who fills out the podium?
Since the UAK was introduced for the 2018 season, 10 of the 12 podium spots were taken via Fast Six starters.
Starting Positions Of Podiums Since 2018
The pole winner has been on the podium in three of the last four years. The second-place starter on the podium each year. Which means if you truly want to make a difference on Sunday, you better do so on Saturday.
- 8 Ericsson – He’s won on 3 other street courses, why not a 4th? The second place starter has four straight podiums here. Numbers are on his side.
- 5 O’Ward – Was quickest in both practice sessions this weekend and finished runner-up in both races this season.
- 28 Grosjean – He was runner-up last year and in the top five (5th, 3rd) in both practice sessions this weekend. He starts third.
- 10 Palou – He starts fourth and has been stout on street courses lately. He was 6th and 9th in both practices and starts fourth.
- 27 Kirkwood – I feel strategy takes him from a win to a top five instead.