Long Beach, CA, April 15, 2012 – Every spring in Long Beach is what I consider the best street circuit race of the season and this year was no exception. The Indy series drivers always have great things to say about the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The ocean views are world class, the race fans come from all over and number well into the hundreds of thousands and the city vibrates with excitement. The new Dallara DW12 Indy race car for this year looks much better in person than on paper and although this year’s times seem slower no one was complaining. In lap 22 when Marco Andretti popped over the rear tire of Graham Rahal and momentarily sent Marco airborne followed by a hard hit to the tire barrier it was apparent that this new chassis could take a beating, hold together and protect the driver. Also new for this year is the use of several engine manufacturers which I feel adds a new dimension to the race. Chevrolet Honda and Lotus are the players and so far Chevrolet seems to be more consistent finishing Long Beach with 7 of the top 10 positions. Surprisingly Dario Franchitti had a poor showing after taking the poll. On the first turn, of the first lap, Dario in my opinion, tapped the number 2 pole sitter Josef Newgarden ending his day before it got started. Maybe it was karma from that moment on Franchitti could not put the wheels back on his wagon finishing 15th.
Simon Pagenaud with a three stop strategy held the lead for a number of laps but in the end it was British driver Will Power who started 12th finishing on top with less than a second margin over second place Pagenaud. James Hinchcliffe finished third taking the last podium spot that Takuma Sato in the number 15 car seemed most destined to take. But as racing goes it’s not over till you get the checkered flag Sato was taken out by Ryan Hunter Reay, Hunter was penalized 30 seconds and so dropped his position but that can’t replace the loss that Sato experienced being denied his first and only IRL podium spot. You could feel see and almost hear the emotions overflowing from the Sato pit crew. Former F1 driver Rubens Barrichello and Helio Castroneves made the last moments of the race even more chaotic as their crash in the hairpin blocked the track and forced Powers to climb from his car there and celebrate his victory alongside the wrecks.
Later Powers went on to say that starting 12th and finishing on top seemed to be impossible goal but that seems to be what has recently worked for him. The next stop is San Paulo Brazil.