IRL: Round 4 – Long Beach – April 18

Andretti Motorsport got their first IndyCar win in nearly two years at Long Beach California, courtesy of Ryan Hunter-Reay who currently only has a part-time deal with the team.

Hunter-Reay started from second and seemed doomed to stare at the back of polesitter Will Power’s car for the duration of the race, until Power curiously slowed on lap 17 and both Hunter-Reay and Justin Wilson stormed past him along the start-finish straight. Power was quickly back up to speed and retained third, sparking speculation that Power had inadvertently triggered the pit lane speed limiter.

Hunter-Reay retained the lead for the rest of the day, pulling away from Wilson by mid-race until he found himself held up by backmarker Alex Lloyd who seriously didn’t want to go a lap down. Finally Hunter-Reay got past, and Lloyd became Wilson’s problem – and despite now being lapped traffic, Lloyd continue to fight Wilson and to ignore the blue flags. Finally Lloyd went wide and Wilson assumed that he was finally ceding the place; instead, Lloyd swept across the track and took off the nose of the Dreyer & Reinbold car.

Wilson was furious, to say the least. He was just inside the pit window for the second and final round of pit stops and so was able to limit the damage to a single dropped place, emerging back on track with a new nose in third place behind Power.

Lloyd was already unpopular for having tapped the back of Takuma Sato’s car into a spin earlier in the race; fortunately Sat had been able to recover without bringing out a full course yellow, and indeed there was only one caution during the entire race which was the result of a boneheaded lunge by Conquest driver Mario Romancini on Graham Rahal (Sarah Fisher Racing) which pushed Rahal into the tyres leaving Romancini no where else to go but into the back of him.

As Rahal made his feelings known to Romancini, at least Justin Wilson was happy about the situation – the caution closed up the pack and put him right back on the tail of Will Power, and after the restart he made the move of the race with a brilliant run down into turn 1 that forced Power wide to cede the second spot. Wilson had the lapped cars of Raphael Matos and Takuma Sato ahead and not enough time remained after he dealt with them to mount any serious challenge on Hunter-Reay, but it was an impressive win considering the mid-race collision. Just how tight it had been was brought home when Wilson stopped on track on the cooling down lap, seemingly out of fuel as a result of the earlier-than-idea pit stop.

Hunter-Reay’s team mate Tony Kanaan had a brilliant start to make up two places before the first turn, only to lose fourth place during the pit stops to a determined Scott Dixon. Mario Moraes drove impressively to finish 6th after starting a lowly 15th, while Dario Franchitti was oddly anonymous on a track he won at last year, ending up 11th.

Alex Tagliani tangled early in the race with Marco Andretti, then suffered a refueling problem before finally ending his race by breaking his suspension in a collision with Simona de Silvestro and Danica Patrick forcing his retirement on lap 66.

Race result

Pos  Driver               Team                    Gap
 1.  Ryan Hunter-Reay     Andretti                85 laps
 2.  Justin Wilson        Dreyer & Reinbold       + 5.6031s
 3.  Will Power           Penske                  + 8.5864s
 4.  Scott Dixon          Ganassi                 + 10.6287s
 5.  Tony Kanaan          Andretti                + 11.7732s
 6.  Mario Moraes         KV                      + 16.5171s
 7.  Helio Castroneves    Penske                  + 16.8928s
 8.  Ryan Briscoe         Penske                  + 18.2214s
 9.  Dan Wheldon          Panther                 + 19.4575s
10.  Mike Conway          Dreyer & Reinbold       + 19.9307s
11.  Vitor Meira          Foyt                    + 27.4005s
12.  Dario Franchitti     Ganassi                 + 28.1352s
13.  Hideki Mutoh         Newman/Haas/Lanigan     + 28.6037s
14.  Marco Andretti       Andretti                + 30.0120s
15.  EJ Viso              KV                      + 31.6182s
16.  Danica Patrick       Andretti                + 32.1804s
17.  Simona de Silvestro  HVM                     + 33.1652s
18.  Takuma Sato          KV                      + 1 lap
19.  Alex Lloyd           Dale Coyne              + 1 lap
20.  Raphael Matos        Luczo Dragon/de Ferran  + 1 lap


     Alex Tagliani        Fazzt                   65 laps
     Graham Rahal         Sarah Fisher            58 laps
     Mario Romancini      Conquest                58 laps
     Bertrand Baguette    Conquest                45 laps
     Milka Duno           Dale Coyne              10 laps

IndyCar championship after round 4

 1  Will Power           172 (0)
 2. Helio Castroneves    130 (-42)
 3. Ryan Hunter-Reay     129 (-43)
 4. Justin Wilson        125 (-47)
 5. Dario Franchitti     112 (-60)
 6. Scott Dixon          112 (-60)
 7. Ryan Briscoe         103 (-69)
 8. Tony Kanaan          94 (-78)
 9. Raphael Matos        84 (-88)
10. Dan Wheldon          83 (-89)
11. Vitor Meira          81 (-91)
12. Marco Andretti       78 (-94)
13. Mike Conway          78 (-94)
14. Alex Tagliani        72 (-100)
15. Mario Moraes         69 (-103)
16. Danica Patrick       67 (-105)
17. E.J. Viso            60 (-112)
18. Hideki Mutoh         60 (-112)
19. Mario Romancini      54 (-118)
20. Simona De Silvestro  53 (-119)
21. Alex Lloyd           48 (-124)
22. Graham Rahal         47 (-125)
23. Milka Duno           46 (-126)
24. Takuma Sato          46 (-126)
25. Bertrand Baguette    24 (-148)
26. Ana Beatriz          17 (-155)

  1. spreadoption

    Boringest race EVER. Zero passes in the last 21 minutes of the race. Brian Barnhart wake up!!!! More ovals, less road courses.

  2. andrewlewin

    Personally I like road courses, but some work better than others and for some reason this one just didn’t. I have to agree, not a particularly compelling race. I figured I was spoiled by the antics of the Chinese F1 GP so it’s interesting to have a new set of eyes.

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