Three Things: Long Beach Edition

With no racing happening, and things looking like we won’t see any in the near future, I tried to go back to my writing from last year to share a few of my thoughts from the vault about some of the things that happened during the 2019 IndyCar season.

Alas, my postings have been relegated to the 404 zone — file not found. That’s cool, I know that those of you who read it liked it. I’m good that like that.

But I realized today that last year’s 45th edition of the Grand Prix of Long Beach was a year and two days ago, and if the world hadn’t changed the way it has, the NTT IndyCar season would be heading to Long Beach this weekend.

So in honor of last year’s race, here were my thoughts after my first experience at the GPLB.

When he’s got it going, Alexander Rossi is unbeatable: Pole position, most laps led, race winner. All in all a perfect weekend for Rossi and his Andretti Autosport team. He took the lead from the start, led 80 laps and won the race by more than 20 seconds over Josef Newgarden. Just over two months later, he did the same thing at Road America to capture his second win of the season. It was a dominant weekend for Rossi, and while the race wasn’t incredibly exciting, it was a testament to a driver who takes no prisoners when the opportunity arises.

Simon Pagenaud was lurking in the background, did anyone notice (?): A year down the road, it’s hard to believe that when we arrived at Long Beach, Pagenaud’s job with Team Penske was rumored to be in jeopardy. I don’t know what it is, but I had remarked at both Barber and Long Beach that Pagenaud was racing incredibly hard, he just didn’t have a lot to show for it. For some reason, he caught my attention at Barber so I paid attention to him in California. His P5 qualifying position and P6 finish was what I felt a signal of things to come. Did I expect him to sweep the whole Month of May? I don’t know if anyone did, but I did feel that he set the table for some good results leading up to May in the previous two races.

Long Beach is a bucket list race: I’d been watching the GP of Long Beach for as long as I remember, but I never thought I would experience it in person. Let me tell you, the GPLB is something every IndyCar fan needs to experience at least once. The city truly embraces it and the weekend is just a great event. I loved seeing all the different kinds of cars on the track, and all around the event was a fun festival that include music, people, and lots of cocktails! I watched the race from the pits and it was so cool to look across the main straight and see the stands packed with people. SoCal embraces the race and it is a staple on the IndyCar schedule. While it isn’t in the cards for this race in 2020, I’m definitely looking forward to covering the race in 2021!

With Long Beach in the rear view, it’s time to start thinking about May! While there won’t be cars on track next month, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on what I experience last year. See you then!

Photo credit: Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media

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