The 47th Grand Prix of Long Beach was the scene of the coronation of a new IndyCar Series winner – as Kyle Kirkwood, in just his third race for the Andretti team in his second season, held off Romain Grosjean and Marcus Ericsson for his first career victory.
On lap 20, wheel-to-wheel contact between Scott Dixon and Pato O’Ward sent Dixon into the tyre barriers at turn eight and brought out a second full course caution. Josef Newgarden, who’d gained four positions on the opening lap, was running third when the caution came out – and a quick pit stop from his Penske crew sent him out just behind Kirkwood in net second position.
Agustin Canapino, one of the drivers that pitted during the caution, had taken the lead by staying out on track. But Canapino caught a blow from Castroneves which damaged his left-front suspension. Kirkwood got stuck behind Canapino’s wounded car in turn six and it allowed Newgarden to sail by easily on the faster alternate tyres.
O’Ward spun into the tyres at turn eight trying to overtake cars and dropped towards the rear of the field. Dixon retired after 37 laps with a mechanical issue.
Kirkwood got back into contention during the final round of pit stops. From second place he was successfully able to overcut Newgarden, who pitted on lap 52. Kirkwood stayed out two more laps and even after he caught some traffic in the last sector of his outlap, he was still able to exit the pits with the lead. Grosjean was able to jump ahead of Newgarden during the final pit cycle, which made it an Andretti 1-2.
Kirkwood and Grosjean ran first and second over the final 30 laps, both vying for their first win. But Kirkwood managed his final stint perfectly and kept Grosjean out of reach to record his first career win in the IndyCar Series – adding to his decorated CV which includes championships in all three rungs of the Road to Indy developmental ladder (USF 2000, USF Pro 2000, and Indy NXT) as well as the Formula 4 and Formula Regional Americas Championships, and even race victories in the IMSA Sportscar Championship.
Grosjean finished second, to repeat his best result from 2022 and secure a 1-2 finish from the Andretti team which had suffered a torrid start to 2023. It’s Grosjean’s fourth runner-up finish in IndyCar since his 2021 debut.
Ericsson used the pace of his last new set of primary tyres well at the end. He took third place and finished within a second of Grosjean on the last lap. This third-place run has moved Ericsson back into the championship lead, 15 points ahead of O’Ward, who finished a lap down in 17th.
Colton Herta finished fourth, putting three Andretti cars in the top five, while Alex Palou finished fifth. Will Power went from 13th on the grid to finish sixth, ahead of Felix Rosenqvist in seventh.
Marcus Armstrong was the top rookie in the race – he scored his first top-ten finish, in eighth, while Newgarden had to spend most of his final stint in heavy fuel conservation mode and slumped to ninth place at the end. Scott McLaughlin rounded out the top ten for Penske, who entered the day hoping to sweep the weekend as an organisation – after Penske gave the Porsche 963 its first sports car racing victory yesterday in the 100-minute IMSA race. Alexander Rossi was running inside the top ten but went off course during the penultimate lap, and was classified 22nd.
IndyCar returns in two weeks for the Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.
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Long Beach Grand Prix race results
|15||60||Simon Pagenaud||Meyer Shank||Honda|
|18||51||Sting Ray Robb||Coyne/RWR||Honda|
|19||77||Callum Ilott||Juncos Hollinger||Chevrolet|
|22||06||Helio Castroneves||Meyer Shank||Honda|
|25||78||Agustin Canapino||Juncos Hollinger||Chevrolet|
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