Kirkwood holds off Grosjean for first IndyCar win at Long Beach


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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.

Kirkwood led the opening stanza of the race from pole position, ahead of Ericsson and Grosjean. There was a quick caution when Helio Castroneves clipped the inside kerb in the first corner of the first lap, and hit the wall. Castroneves somehow escaped with only damage to his front wing.

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

127Kyle KirkwoodAndrettiHonda
228Romain GrosjeanAndrettiHonda
38Marcus EricssonGanassiHonda
426Colton HertaAndrettiHonda
510Alex PalouGanassiHonda
612Will PowerPenskeChevrolet
76Felix RosenqvistMcLarenChevrolet
811Marcus ArmstrongGanassiHonda
92Josef NewgardenPenskeChevrolet
103Scott McLaughlinPenskeChevrolet
1114Santino FerrucciFoytChevrolet
1215Graham RahalRLLHonda
1330Jack HarveyRLLHonda
1445Christian LundgaardRLLHonda
1560Simon PagenaudMeyer ShankHonda
1629Devlin DeFrancescoAndrettiHonda
175Pato O’WardMcLarenChevrolet
1851Sting Ray RobbCoyne/RWRHonda
1977Callum IlottJuncos HollingerChevrolet
207Alexander RossiMcLarenChevrolet
2118David MalukasCoyne/HMDHonda
2206Helio CastronevesMeyer ShankHonda
2320Conor DalyCarpenterChevrolet
2455Benjamin PedersenFoytChevrolet
2578Agustin CanapinoJuncos HollingerChevrolet
2621Rinus VeeKayCarpenterChevrolet
279Scott DixonGanassiHonda


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Author information

RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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9 comments on “Kirkwood holds off Grosjean for first IndyCar win at Long Beach”

  1. Isn’t it refreshingly honest of Romain to note that he touched the push-to-pass button twice during the entire race and had no hope of winning, all because of fuel consumption, despite following his teammate home well under a second behind most of the time?

    And then there was Josef just giving up places left and right because his fuel situation was completely dire.

    Indycar should probably reduce the fuel cell for this event to make a fuel-saving two-stopper less desirable.

  2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    17th April 2023, 8:15

    I watched this race, and I think Ericsson actually looked to have the best pace of them all. When O’ward and Dixon collided, Erricson had to break to try and avoid cotact, but still got a bit of damage.This lost him 3 positions. But he recovered what he lost other than passing Grsjean – who beniffited from pitting when he did. Erricsson then closed a pretty big gap to Grosjean and Kirkwood.

    Some people comment that all drivers must not be at a very high level if Ericsson is this good, but I honestly think Ericsson has improved a great deal in indycar and is now close to being one of the best drivers in this sport. He seems much more suited to this than F1.

    1. I know this is never going to happen but it would be so interesting to have some kind of partnership between F1 and Indycar like for example one event each year, halfway through the season, where the top half of Indycar drivers get to take part in an F1 weekend taking the place of every F1 teams second driver depending on points.

      1. LOL, Dominique, what you imagine could only involve F2 – which is also a FIA product connected to F1, although that’s also impossible.
        IndyCar is F1’s adversary in the marketing realm (even though it doesn’t act that way – but F1 does), Formula 1 does what it can to diminish IndyCar.

    2. Some people comment that all drivers must not be at a very high level if Ericsson is this good

      Right, but compared to what? Surely not F1, where about a third of the grid crashed or spun at the starts of the latest GP.

      F1 is a car championship. Ericsson was never going to win there in a Sauber. When did Leclerc and Hamilton last win a race? And their cars aren’t even that bad!

      1. The only teammate Marcus beat in Formula 1 was Kamui Kobayashi, in the Caterham, on count-back. Then he went on losing all 4 duels at Sauber.

  3. Pato O’Ward really blew it colliding with Dixon. I hope this will make him more patient for the future.

    It was a bummer how Castroneves wasn’t able to stay on the lead lap after his crash, but it was super exciting for him to get as close as he did after the pit-stop. It was surprising that he was forced to pit, even though despite lacking the front wing – even more surprisingly – he retained good car control and drove with decent speed in order to catch the field from behind.

  4. Oward’s move on Dixon was rather late, and a similar move happened in the IMSA race (where said driver also subsequently went off in another lunge). Quite hard to tell from the camera angle there, but it looked like both of them cut the corner to make those moves, too.

    It’s always a bit disappointing how fuel saving is one of the rare strategic choices teams can make in Indycar. When it works it looks rather dull, and when it doesn’t it just makes those drivers look a bit goofy as they get overtaken left and right.

  5. Kirkwood has won in every feeder series he’s been in, now continuing his winning ways in the big cars. He’s going to be a star. Ericsson continues to improve his driving and mental approach and is a real contender to win the championship. He’s easily better than 3/4 of the field now in F1. Hell, half the IndyCar grid could compete well in F1.

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