Verizon Indycar Series Round 2 of 18: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
Straight southa Compton
Hello Indycar racing fans! After the Malaysian non-GP Formula One was a terrible travesty of a racing show and Indycar pretty much by default commanded the soaring heights of motoring Olympus. It was fun while it lasted! Anyway it doesn't matter because They're (the Formula One fans) are going (vicariously) to grey old Shanghai and We're (the Indycar fans) are going (vicariously) to SUNNY CALIFORNIA.
Yes! California! Birthplace of Richard Nixon and Apple Computers, and the setting for many Hollywood films. It's also home to Long Beach, a delightful mix of sun, sea, hairpins and formerly porno.
It's time for some statistics
Anagram: Can he blog
Track length: 1.968 miles
Who won last year: Takuma Sato
Who's going to win this year: Will Power
Who I'd like to win this year: Sebastien Bourdais
Who you should say will win so you look cool in front of your Indycar-watching hipster friends in the universe where people care about Indycars: Mike Conway
Who or what is a Michelob?
Tell me when I need to watch
On Sunday watch the MotoGP. Then frantically come on here and ask for a stream for the Indycar because it's starting in half an hour and oh my God it's NASCAR at Darlington no that was on last night you IDIOT.
If you're an experienced race watcher you'll probably be able to interpret this baffling chart:
Friday, 11 April
07:40: United Sportscar practice 1
10:00: Indycar practice 1
12:15: Indy Lights practice 1
14:00: Indycar practice 2
16:00: Pirelli World Challenge practice 1
17:00: United Sportscar qualifying
(Have you noticed something unusual yet? This actually looks like an event you might want to go to.)
Saturday, 12 April
07:45: Indy Lights practice 2
10:00: Indycar practice 3
11:00: Indy Lights practice 3 (I don't think they really need all those practice sessions)
12:00: 200th annual Long Beach Pro/Celebrity Race
13:15: Indycar qualifying
15:05: United Sportscar race (100 minutes/5 green flag laps)
17:15: Pirelli World Challenge qualifying
Sunday, 13 April
07:20: Stadium Super Trucks qualifying
08:00: Pirelli World Challenge warm-up
09:00: Indycar warm-up
10:15: Indy Lights race
12:00: Stadium Super Trucks race
13:50: Indycar racing around Long Beach for 80 laps give or take one or two aborted standing starts
16:30: Pirelli World Challenge Race
What happened last time?
You mean aside from this?
Plenty of things, provided you were treating it like a normal race, which is to say not like an Indycar street race. Guiltless Will Power made a tough pass for the win on Takuma Sato, the quietness of whose dropping-back was as unexpected as the quietness of Simon Pagenaud's dropping-forward was expected. Helio Castroneves put a second Penske on the podium, proving once again that he's the anti-Coulthard: this year is widely predicted to be his last year, and he always surpasses expectations without seeming to win much. So not entirely the anti-Coulthard then.
On the support bill
Some sports cars, which are undergoing a revival of sorts. The new-for-14 United Sportscar Series has replaced the theoretical confusion of the ALMS/Grand-Am days with the real-life confusion of what it's like to be run by NASCAR's back office. If anyone's memory goes back as far as 2009 then I heartily recommend they consult the specific memoroids that deal with that year in AMA Superbike history. Cos there's the biggest parallel there since Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon hung up their plumb-bobs.
And then there's Pirelli World Challenge, which is like British Touring Cars as imagined by Scrooge McDuck. Instead of hard-fought and performance-massaged racing with identifiable and affordable cars, it's hard-fought and performance-massaged racing with cars that are identifiable in the sense that you probably live in the same city or country as one of their owners. You can also refer to it by its alternate name, "I did wonder what Tomas Enge was doing now".