The 2015 IndyCar season has not got off to a smooth start at all. After a debris-fest at St. Petersburg, a crash-fest occurred at a damp Louisiana for the second round of the season. With a surprise winner and a few penalties being handed out post-race, the championship table has some names in unusual places as the teams head to sunny Long Beach, for one of the most highly anticipated races of the season. There are a few driver changes in the mix as well just to add that extra bit of spice at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Long Beach is one of the greatest street circuits in the world. It is a personal favourite of mine, and features one of the most unique corners in the world as the cars navigate a water feature at turns 2 and 3. As the cars join the former F1 circuit at turn 5, this is where a lot of the overtaking will occur as getting the line right for the rest of the course is very tricky. Turn 4 is the site of the infamous crash last year, where Ryan Hunter-Reay took out a multitude of cars with a desperate lunge up the inside of Josef Newgarden. This circuit is well and truly a proper street circuit and the majority of the circuit was also used for the ePrix here two weeks ago. Here is an onboard with Helio Castroneves. [Link]
Seven former winners will line up on the grid on Sunday, with Sebastien Bourdais being the most successful, with three wins. Juan Pablo Montoya won here 16 years ago, whilst last year’s winner Mike Conway will not be present.
The two driver changes at the time of writing involve Andretti Autosport and Chip Ganassi Racing. The top Andretti driver in the standings – Simona de Silvestro will not be present here. It is unclear whether anybody will be in the 25 this weekend, but to see her side-lined given her strong position in the championship is disappointing. Team mate Ryan Hunter-Reay was docked three championship points after causing a potentially nasty collision with Simon Pagenaud and Bourdais at NOLA.
The second driver movement follows the announcement that Sage Karam will be sharing the seat in the 8 car with Sebastien Saavedra. The Columbian, who has finished no higher than 21st in three full seasons in the past will race at Long Beach in place of Karam, who has struggled so far in his short IndyCar career.
It’s a Penske 1-2-3 in the standings so far, as Juan Pablo Montoya leads by ten points ahead of Helio Castroneves. Will Power is in third ahead of surprise Louisiana winner James Hinchcliffe. Tony Kanaan is the top Ganassi in fifth ahead of the now-absent Simona de Silvestro. Whilst this race has not been won by any of the three big teams since 2012, I find it difficult to see how Penske will not be victorious here. Takuma Sato may be one to watch here as well, as he is a former winner here, along with the two CFH cars, as Mike Conway won here last year.