Race Day IndyCar Set-Up – 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Sunday Schedule

Sunday April 13

7:00am Gates Open
7:20am Practice Stadium Super Trucks
8:00am Warm-Up Pirelli World Challenge
9:00am Warm-Up Verizon IndyCar Series
10:15am Race Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire
11:30am Mothers Exotic Car Parade
Noon Race Stadium Super Trucks
1:50pm Race Verizon IndyCar Series
3:55pm Demonstration Formula DRIFT
4:30pm Race Pirelli World Challenge
5:30pm Gates Close

Television: NBC Sports Network at 4pm (ET)

Radio: IMS Radio Network; Sirius/XM 209; IndyCar.com; Verizon IndyCar14 App

Things to watch for

5,4,3,2,1… GO!

For only the third time since 2007, the Verizon IndyCar Series will attempt a standing start. The last time a standing start was used at the Toyota Long Beach of Grand Prix was for the Champ Car World Series race in 2007.

Because tight nature of the hairpin leading onto the front straight, it was nearly impossible for the entire Verizon IndyCar Series field to get lined up two-by-two for a proper rolling start, so the decision was made to attempt a standing start.

That doesn’t mean that a standing start will be any easier. The curved nature of Shoreline Drive combined with the convex road surface will certainly lead to some uneven rear grip.  James Hinchcliffe explained this saying, “It’s going to be more difficult here than anywhere else. a) we’ve been (here), or b) that we will go, because it is a curved front straightaway, and it’s also a cambered front straightaway, so as soon as you get wheel spin, the cars are going to start grabbing and it will be difficult. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out to be honest.”

Check below for the standing start procedures and a video from IndyCar, Marshall Pruett and Mike Conway explaining how a driver executes a standing start.

A red vs. black conundrum

Rookie Jack Hawksworth was quick when he bolted on alternate Firestone Firehawk racing tires (Photo Courtesy of IndyCar)

Rookie Jack Hawksworth was quick when he bolted on alternate Firestone Firehawk racing tires (Photo Courtesy of IndyCar)

For the second straight race, bolting on a set of alternate Firestone Firehawk racing tires didn’t equate to as big of a lap time gain as it had in years past.  Whether that is due to the slight change in construction or a reaction to the new Cooper Tire rubber being used by Indy Lights this year, has yet to be answered.

Rookie Carlos Huertas from Dale Coyne Racing said, “We thought the tire would generate more grip and sort out some problems we had but it didn’t.”

It certainly wasn’t a rookie thing as previous Long Beach champion, Helio Castroneves, echoed the rookie, saying, “The red tires were unbelievable. It completely changed the handling on the Automobile Club of Southern California Chevy.”

Is it going to be better to wait until the two later stints to use the Firestone reds, when the Cooper rubber has been replaced by Firestone rubber? How much longer will the Firestone Blacks allow drivers to produce more consistent laps time?  Will the Firestone Reds fall off more quickly then they did in St. Petersburg?  All questions that could be the key to having a good day in the LBC.

Have your arse firmly planted

Turn 11, better known as THE hairpin, is one of the most famous corners in motorsports.  It is also the key corner if you want to win the 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.  After exiting the hairpin, the drivers scream down the very long Shoreline Drive front straight towards Turn 1, the best passing spot on the circuit.  Getting a good launch off the hairpin turn is vital in gaining an advantage over the driver you are trailing.  Firestone fast six qualifier Josef Newgarden claims it is one of the two most important factors about doing well at Long Beach, saying, “You also have to have really good traction because there are a lot of corners that lead into big straightaways.”

The 2013 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Takuma Sato echoed his younger competitor, explaining, “the track has one of the tightest and slowest hairpins in the series (final corner) and so it requires very strong traction coming out corner.”

Them’s the brakes

Will Power locks up the brakes on the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet (Photo Courtesy of IndyCar)

Will Power locks up the brakes on the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet (Photo Courtesy of IndyCar)

Drivers will spend almost 20% of each lap around the 1.968-mile Streets Of Long Beach circuit utilizing their Brembo carbon fibre brakes. That equates to just over 18 minutes spent depressing the brake pedal.  Turn 1, where the drivers slow from 180mph down to 65mph puts the most strain on the brakes, but the rest of the circuit is no picnic either.  Drivers use a combination of throttle and brake to guide them through the narrow Turn 2-Turn 5 complex before getting heavy on the brakes again at Turn 6.  Turn 9 is a heavy braking zone that is made more complicated by the bumps and manhole covers that litter the entrance to the 90 degree corner.  We’ve seen races lost (Josef Newgarden in Indy Lights) when a driver waits too late to brake and gets caught out on a bump or manhole cover.

Mid-pack mayhem?

Starting in the 13th to 18th positions, respectively are veteran Verizon IndyCar Series race winners: Tony Kanaan, Will Power, Takuma Sato, Juan Montoya, Mike Conway and Ryan Briscoe. Watch for some daring moves and fireworks during the first stint as that group look to move into more familiar territory.

40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Starting Grid

Starting Position Driver Car
1 Ryan Hunter-Reay No. 28 DHL Honda
2 James Hinchcliffe No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda
3 Sebastien Bourdais No. 11 Mistic KVSH Racing Chevrolet
4 Josef Newgarden No.67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Honda
5 Jack Hawksworth No. 98 Charter / Castrol Edge Honda
6 Simon Pagenaud No. 77 Charter Communications/SPHM Honda
7 Scott Dixon No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
8 Marco Andretti No. 25 Snapple Honda
9 Helio Castroneves No. 3 AAA Southern California Penske Chevrolet
10 Justin Wilson No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda
11 Carlos Munoz No. 34 Cinsay AndrettiTV.com HVM Honda
12 Oriol Servia No. 16 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
13 Tony Kanaan No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
14 Will Power No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet
15 Takuma Sato No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Honda
16 Juan Montoya No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet
17 Mike Conway No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
18 Ryan Briscoe No. 8 TNT Energy Drink Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
19 Charlie Kimball No. 83 Novo Nordisk Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
20 Mikhail Aleshin No. 7 SMP Racing Honda
21 Carlos Huertas No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda
22 Sebastian Saavedra No. 17 AFS KVAFS Racing Chevrolet
23 Graham Rahal No. 15 National Guard Honda

Qualifying Recap

Round 1; Group 1

Group 1 took the green flag to begin Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying 1:15 p.m. local time. Drivers went out on the primary Firestone Firehawk racing tires (black) to “bank” laps in case of a later red flag. As the drivers were making the switch over to the alternate Firestone Firehawk racing tires, an incident occurred between Takuma Sato and Ryan Hunter-Reay. Race control deemed that Sato interfered with Hunter-Reay and the No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Honda was penalized his two quickest laps. Sato explained, “We both started on blacks [tires], but I pitted a lap earlier for the red tires. After warming up on my red tires, I was just starting my qualifying lap, and he was on charge finishing his lap on blacks. Unfortunately we came close in the very last sector where the timing line is. I didn’t feel it would affect him on his lap time, but they decided to penalize me.”

Advancing to Round 2 —> Sebastien Bourdais, James Hinchcliffe, Justin Wilson, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Josef Newgarden, and Oriol Servia

Eliminated —> Takuma Sato, Mike Conway, Tony Kanaan, Carlos Huertas, and Charlie Kimball

Red Flags:


Round 1; Group 2

Once again all drivers went out on the black tires to bank a lap before pitting to switch over to the red tires. The session was relatively clean except for Juan Montoya, who brushed the wall in Turn 4 after making a mistake while pushing hard to make it into the the fast 12. The driver of the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet said, “We keep gaining on it and I definitely think we had a car that was capable of the Fast Six. We just brushed the wall in turn four. I was trying hard to get that extra two tenths (of a second) and it didn’t work out.”

Advancing to Round 2 —> Carlos Munoz, Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Simon Pagenaud, Marco Andretti, and Jack Hawksworth

Eliminated —> Will Power, Ryan Briscoe, Juan Montoya, Mikhail Aleshin, Graham Rahal and Sebastian Saavedra

Red Flags:


Round 2 – Fast 12

An extremely back and forth and very close second round of qualifying saw nine Honda’s and three Chevrolet’s all covered by only a half of a second. The six drivers that advanced to the Firestone Fast Six were all within two-tenths of a second. Hunter-Reay was again involved in an on track incident, this time it was with Simon Pagenaud. Race control deemed there was no foul, and no action was taken.

Advancing to the Firestone Fast Six —> Sebastien Bourdais, Simon Pagenaud, Josef Newgarden, Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe and Jack Hawksworth.

Firestone Fast Six

the No. 28 DHL Honda of Ryan Hunter-Reay during qualifying (Photo Courtesy of IndyCar)

the No. 28 DHL Honda of Ryan Hunter-Reay during qualifying (Photo Courtesy of IndyCar)

It quickly became clear that after banking an early lap most drivers would wait until the very end of the qualifying session to try and put down a scorcher and take the Verizon P1 pole award. It looked like the James Hinchcliffe and his No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda were on there way his first career pole position, but as the second last car to cross the timing line Hunter-Reay just managed to surpass his teammate by one tenth of a second to complete the all Andretti Autosport and Honda Performance Development front row. Regarding his quick lap, Hunter-Reay explained, “I was consistently quick through turn 8, 9, 10, 11. What I hadn’t put together yet was a lap where I was quick through 5 and 6 with the combination of those other sections being quick, and I think I put together turn 5 and 6 on that lap and that was the key to it.”

Qualifying Quotables:

Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL Honda)

It just comes down to this team giving me what I need when I need it. What a qualifying session. You never knew who was going to put in the best lap; it was anybody’s session. It’s a good start for us, but tomorrow is going to be challenging. We have the standing start and a long day on the beach. We’ve been on the outside pole so many times here and final got the big one.

Sebastien Bourdais (No. 11 Mistic KVSH Racing Chevrolet)

Maybe the cars are separated by a hundredths. It’s just all bets are off, really. It’s all over the fact that you have a lot of cars that can obviously or well seem to be able to make it happen. It’s just you look at how the gaps are close, and then you just realize that all it takes is a little thing to go sideways and that’s it. You don’t make it.
When you see Will Power who is obviously kind of king of qualifying, and not making it out of group two, it’s kind of surprising. I think it really sums up how much things are uncertain right now in IndyCar, and how the field is competitive. So it’s a big testimony to, obviously, the quality of the field, the quality of the cars, and the fact that, obviously, Indy car came up with a package that limits how much you can do to the cars and just puts everybody on a level playing field.

Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet)

Obviously, the No. 12 Verizon Chevy team is starting a lot further back then we had hoped. We just have to try to make that work from where we are and do the best we can tomorrow.

Jack Hawksworth (No. 98 Charter / Castrol Edge Honda)

We had a pretty solid session. I think that was good about the session was we continued to make it better throughout every run. So had a couple of really clean, clean laps in session 1 and session 2. Then session 3 the car was really good again, which is good. I probably didn’t get quite as much out of it as I did coming off of turn 1 on the final lap, but I mean, the car was really good. I was really proud of all the guys at Bryan Herta. They really pushed hard in the last few weeks, and they’ve given me such a fantastic opportunity. So thank you to them and to Castrol, and everybody involved, Charter, and just fantastic day really for everybody.

Qualifying Tweetables

Standing Start Procedures

Formation laps

  • cars will follow single file, in starting order behind the safety car for two formation laps
  • a car that fails to leave the pre-grid may return to it’s starting position before the end of the first formation lap, if they do not return to their original starting position at the end of the first formation lap they must start from the rear of the field
  • a car that is not able to leave the pre-grid must start for their pit box


  • safety car will pull away at the end of the formation laps and cars will take their starting position with the front wheels of the car within the orange grid line

Light Sequence

  • one pair of red lights will be illuminated to give a five second signal once all cars are in position on the grid
  • the countdown will start and a pair of red lights will be illuminated every second until all five red lights are illuminated

a random delay of 0.5 seconds and 4.0 seconds will occur and the race will start when all five red lights are extinguished

  • any car that causes a delay in light sequence being started will be penalized

False Start

  • a un-reviewable penalty will occur when a car moves from its assigned position during the light sequence

Aborted Start

  • an aborted start will be signified when the countdown lights freeze and the top row of lights go to flashing yellow
  • two seconds after the aborted lights flash green lights will illuminate signifying the start of a new formation lap
  • if a competitors actions were the cause of the aborted start they will start at the rear of the field
  • an aborted second standing start attempt will result in a rolling start

Mike Conway on Standing Starts


I have been an IndyCar fan since the mid 1980's and like to cover the news that no else does.

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