Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Bumping Debate 2019

I am really fucking tired writing about this and we will cut to the chase:

Roger Penske said he wants guaranteed spots in the Indianapolis 500 for full-time teams. Chip Ganassi seconded it and Michael Andretti agreed. IndyCar's axis powers in this debate.

A lot of people do not want this as they fear what could be the Indianapolis 500 fading into the background and blending in with all the other races around the world.

I get why Penske, Ganassi and Andretti want guaranteed spots. I really do get it. They want the money. They want the security. If anything, these three should be pleading that the Indianapolis 500 field should be reduced to 24 cars and the money that would have gone to the extra nine entries should be divvied up that way they get more money. That is the name of the game to them. They got to make money and the more they can make the happier those three will be.

The problem is this would be terrible. We have seen many forms of motorsports shrink in terms of participation. We see guaranteed spots in nearly every series. IndyCar, NASCAR, Formula One, sports car racing, etc. Every other race in the IndyCar season locks in the field. The Indianapolis 500 is the one race with no safety net. No one is locked in. No one knows where he or she will be on race day. No number of champions, race victories or Twitter followers can put you in the field. It is a last bastion of sorts in motorsports, one of the final races where participation comes down to whether you can put up one of the 33 fastest times or not.

The hard limit of 33 cars and bumping is part of why the Indianapolis 500 stands out. It makes it different. It adds to the entire event. Removing it brings the Indianapolis 500 back to the pack. It becomes closer to Iowa, Toronto and Belle Isle. It becomes another event of sorts.

The owners know what they are saying. They want security. They want to be able to guarantee sponsors the bang for the buck and they also know the Indianapolis 500 probably would not change that much without bumping. We haven't had bumping on a regular basis for the better part of two decades. People still showed up to the race. The 100th Indianapolis 500 didn't have any bumping and it still drew a "sold out" crowd. Locking in cars won't fucking matter over whether people show up or not. Some people will die on that hill but most won't give a fuck. They will still show up on race day and they will still watch on TV. The bottom will not fall out on the rating come race day.

However, the series has the team owners' by the balls.

What are the team owners going to do if IndyCar doesn't lock in cars? Leave? They have nowhere to go. As fucking hypocritical as they are in becoming proponents to locking in cars after what happened almost 25 years ago, they aren't going to start another series. They aren't that fucking stupid. They did the alternative in 1996 and it didn't work out. As fucking dumb as they may be now they cannot be that stupid to decide to organize a rival Memorial Day race against the Indianapolis 500 again!

Advantage IndyCar.

I don't know what will happen if Penske doesn't get his guaranteed positions in 2020 or 2021 but I don't think he is going anywhere.

I get why these big three team owners are scared about failing to make the race. They have invested a lot and losing a sponsor would be terrible but we know bumping isn't necessarily a fatal blow. James Hinchcliffe failed to make last year's race and Arrow DOUBLED-DOWN and INCREASED its sponsorship in Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. Bobby Rahal failed to make the race in 1993 and Miller Genuine Draft was still on the car in 1994. Paul Tracy failed to make the race in 2010 and Geico stuck around with KV Racing for a few years and even came back two years ago with Dale Coyne Racing and James Davison.

There have been sponsors that left because a car did not make the Indianapolis 500. There have also been sponsors that left cars that just won the championship

***Cough*** Scott Dixon ***cough*** How do explain that Chip? ***cough*** Kind of a weak argument that you are worried about losing a sponsor over not being guaranteed spot in the Indianapolis 500 when you couldn't keep a sponsor after winning a championship that fucking season? ***cough*** Asshole. ***cough***

Excuse me. Apologies for the coughing fit.

Penske, Ganassi and Andretti want to be guaranteed a slice of the pie but the one thing IndyCar needs to value is competition. Bumping is another form of competition. It turns a procedural affair into an agonizing few hours where you watch a handful of people scramble to keep a dream alive. Some will make it and you get to see the relief. Others will not and you have to watch the emotional contemplation of the worst day of their lives. That is sport. That is beautiful. That is why people watch. People watch to see joy. They watch to see hearts break. It is life played out on the racetrack.

IndyCar needs bumping. It needs that day that makes everyone nervous and that includes the axis power of Penske, Ganassi and Andretti. Other sports have uncertainty, even for the big names. LeBron James is the most popular basketball player in the world. He didn't make the NBA playoffs. The NBA didn't give the Los Angeles Lakers the eighth-seed in the Western Conference over the Los Angeles Clippers just because it would get better ratings with LeBron James. Connor McDavid is arguably the best player in the NHL. He didn't make the Stanley Cup playoffs. The NHL didn't put the Edmonton Oilers in over the Colorado Avalanche just because it would be better to have McDavid on the ice. Mike Trout is arguably the best player in baseball and he has only made the playoffs once in his eight years in Major League Baseball.

IndyCar should not want IndyCar to be different at least when it comes to the Indianapolis 500. Last year's Indianapolis 500 will be remembered more because of who wasn't there. Last year, James Hinchcliffe missed the race but Graham Rahal was also in the battle to make the field. Conor Daly pulled it out. James Davison had the qualifying run of a lifetime. Every time there is bumping there is an unexpected name in the mix, one that most had penciled in and that is why people watch. We are waiting to be surprised and IndyCar needs that. IndyCar is doing the right thing if people tune in because they genuinely do not know what is going to happen. Guaranteeing spots in the Indianapolis 500 takes away one of the things playing into IndyCar's hand.

This debate isn't going anywhere. It is going to play out throughout this month of May and maybe if the cars in the bumping battle this year are inconsequential one-off entries then we will hear less from the axis car owners come 2020. If a full-time driver is in the mix on bump day then IndyCar's three-headed dragon will keep chirping.

My hope is IndyCar squeezes a little bit because they hold the power in this scenario. It can't fold. It needs to keep the standard of what the Indianapolis 500 is and the team owners know what they are getting into each May.

The team owners are looking out for their business interests but there comes a point when the team owners have to step back and look at the greater good and realize taking the risk out of the Indianapolis 500 could be bad for business, reducing the chance of the unexpected and turning it into just another race.

2019 Super Formula Preview

With Easter coming up there is not a lot on the motorsports schedule. One thing that is happening is the Super Formula season opens and the series is not a highly covered series internationally but I think it is an important series to keep an eye on.

Over the last few years the series has evolved. The series has become an alternate route or a gap-year for the top Formula One prospects. The series still has plenty of domestically developed drivers but the grid is getting younger. The average age of the 2019 field is 25.85 years old. For comparison, the average age of the Formula One grid is 26.75 years old and the average age of the IndyCar entries that plan on contesting at least ten races or more is 29.6956 years old.

Not all these Super Formula drivers are going to remain in Super Formula or Super GT. Some of these drivers will have careers outside of Japan and that is not including the Formula One hopefuls. Some of these drivers may even end up in the top echelons of sports car racing or even head to IndyCar.

On top of the young grid with names that will be around for years to come, Super Formula has adopted a new chassis with the Dallara SF19 being introduced, replacing the Dallara SF14. This will be the first Super Formula chassis to include a halo.

All of these reasons are why we should keep an eye on Super Formula in 2019 and this preview will go over the schedule and all entries. We will go over what are the teams, who are driving for those teams, what these drivers have accomplished and a look at what the future for these drivers could be.

The schedule is simple, seven rounds at six tracks with one round for each of the next seven months.

The season begins this weekend at Suzuka on April 21st. Autopolis will hold the second round on May 19th. Last year's Autopolis round was cancelled due to weather conditions. The third round will be at Sportsland SUGO on June 23rd. Super Formula will head to Toyota's Fuji Speedway on July 14th, the middle round of the championship.

On August 18th, Super Formula goes to Twin Ring Motegi and Okayama will host the penultimate round on September 29th. The final round will be at Suzuka on October 27th.


DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing
Naoki Yamamoto: #1 DoCoMo Dandelion M1S SF19-Honda
What has Yamamoto done: Yamamoto is coming off a double championship season, taking the Super Formula and Super GT GT500 titles and becoming only the fourth driver to achieve such an accomplishment. Prior to 2018, Yamamoto won the 2013 Super Formula title and he won the 2013 Suzuka 1000.
What could be in his future: Yamamoto's GT500 co-driver Jenson Button said Yamamoto is worthy of Formula One and with Honda powering two teams in Formula One. It would not be crazy to think within two or three years he could get a shot with Toro Rosso. Yamamoto also enters this season at 30 years old and unless Honda really pushes the envelope I do not see him getting that shot. However, could IndyCar be in his cards? He is 30. Takuma Sato is 42 and is winning races. Sato made his IndyCar when he was 32 years old. DoCoMo is the sponsor of Team Dandelion Racing and its parent company is NTT. Sato is not getting any younger and there is a history of Japanese drivers on the IndyCar grid. Could NTT grease some elbows and get Honda's best driver domestically in Japan to move to the United States? Yamamoto could spend 10-12 years in IndyCar if he moves over in the next few years but he very well could end up having a long and successful career in Japan. I think he will end up doing more outside his home nation.

As for this season, I think Yamamoto will put up a valiant title defense and he should win a race or two. If he does that he very well could win the championship but it will all come down to what happens in the remaining rounds.

Nirei Fukuzumi: #5 DoCoMo Dandelion M5Y SF19-Honda
What has Fukuzumi done: Fukuzumi spent the last three years in Europe, the first two years in the GP3 Series where he won two races and finished third in the championship in his second GP3 season. Last year, he ran the full Fomrula Two season and scored 17 points. He also ran four of seven Super Formula races but did not score a point.
What could be in his future: Similar to Yamamoto, I think Fukuzumi could end up in IndyCar. He was doing well in Europe and is coming back to Japan. He is 22 years old and he could be a long-term option for Honda in IndyCar.

Fukuzumi was competitive in testing and was not far off his teammate and in some cases he was quicker than Yamamoto. I think he will be a regular points scorer and end up on the podium a few times. Could he win a race? I wouldn't rule it out but it will not come easy.

Kondō Racing
Kenta Yamashita: #3 Orientalbio Kondo SF19-Toyota
What has Yamashita done: Yamashita twice finished runner-up in the All-Japan Formula 3 Championship before he won the title in 2016. In 2015 and 2017 he ran full-time in Super GT's GT300 class and won a race in Autopolis. In 2017, he joined Super Formula and won pole position at Motegi. He contested full seasons in both Super GT and Super Fomrula last year and he finished third in the final race of the season, the first podium finish in his Super Formula career.
What could be in his future: Yamashita has been fairly successful but he has yet to have a major breakthrough. He is still a relatively new driver in Super GT and Super Formula. He is definitely down the pecking order when it comes to Toyota drivers but he was one of the top Toyota drivers during testing. He is coming off his best finish and Kondō Racing won the teams' championship last year. I think Yamashita could be pushing for the top five of the championship.

Yuji Kunimoto: #4 Orientalbio Kondo SF19-Toyota
What has Kunimoto done: Kunimoto won the 2016 Super Formula championship but he has only finished on the podium twice in the last two seasons, both third place results and in eight seasons, his championship season is the only seasons he won a race. He has spent the last ten seasons in Super GT with two victories in GT500, his most recent victory at Buriram in 2016. In 2017, he made his 24 Hours of Le Mans debut in the third Toyota TS050 Hybrid that retired after 160 laps.
What could be in his future: Kunimoto could be that next Toyota driver to make a move into the LMP1 program. He has the experience and depending on whether or not Fernando Alonso comes back for the 2019-20 FIA World Endurance Championship Kunimoto could be the driver to fill that opening.

Kunimoto was not far off his teammate in testing and I think this season can be marginally better than his last two in Super Formula.

Artem Markelov: #7 UOMO SUNOCO SF19-Toyota
What has Markelov done: Markelov spent the last five seasons in GP2/Formula Two, all driving for Russian Time, where he won nine races and was vice-champion in 2017 and he was fifth in the championship last year. He participated in first practice of last year's Russian Grand Prix for Renault.
What could be in his future: Markelov was at the bottom of the timesheet for most of testing and I think he will struggle. I am not sure where Markelov's career goes from here. The Formula One route didn't work out. Could he end up like most Russian drivers and in the SMP Racing program? Yeah, probably.

Kazuya Oshima: #8 UOMO SUNOCO SF19-Toyota
What has Oshima done: Oshima has spent the last 13 seasons competing in Super GT and he won the 2007 GT300 championship, was 2016 GT500 vice-champion and he finished third in the championship in 2017. He has spent seven seasons in Super Formula split from 2009-12 and 2015-18. His only Super Formula victory was at Sportsland SUGO in 2010. He has not won in Super GT since the 2013 finale at Motegi.
What could be in his future: Oshima is kind of set with a career in Japan. Nothing wrong with that and for this year I think he will be ahead of Markelov most of the year but points scoring will be rare.

Team Mugen
Daniel Ticktum: #15 Team Mugen SF19-Honda
What has Ticktum done: In 2015, he intentionally caused an accident behind the safety car in MSA Formula and received a two-year ban from motorsports with one year being a suspended ban. Since returning, he has won the Macau Grand Prix the last two years and he was vice-champion in FIA Formula 3 European Championship last year to Mick Schumacher and he made a handful of starts in GP3 and Formula Two. He made two starts in Super Formula last year filling in for Fukuzumi when he had a Formula Two conflict.
What could be in his future: Ticktum is on the Red Bull Formula One path, which could be great or it could ruin his career before he is 22 years old. He turns 20 in June for perspective. Red Bull wanted him in Toro Rosso this year but he didn't have enough Super License points and the team had to settle with Daniil Kvyat. Team Mugen won the title last year with Yamamoto but Yamamoto left the team over his dissatisfaction over the team's results. Yamamoto carried the load for this team and was the only driver to score points. I think Ticktum only gets a handful of points and again will fall short of the Super License points desired. He needs five points meaning he needs to finish fifth in the championship this year. Unless Team Mugen has a massive turnaround I do not see that happening.

Tomoki Nojiri: #16 Team Mugen SF19-Honda
What has Nbjiri done: Nojiri won in his seventh Super Formula start back in 2014. Since then, he has four podium finishes in the last four seasons, all third place finishes. Nojiri has also spent the last five seasons in Super GT and he was third in the GT500 championship last year with victories at Suzuka and Motegi.
What could be in his future: Nojiri was apart of the Team Dandelion Racing-Team Mugen team swap.  I think he will finish ahead of Ticktum in the championship. I think he has settled into a good spot in Honda's Japanese programs.

Real Racing
Tristan Charpentier: #17 Real SF19-Honda
What has Charpentier done: Charpentier was fifth in the 2016 French F4 Championship with six podium finishes, including a victory at the Bugatti Circuit in Le Mans. He moved to the BRDC British Formula Three Championship in 2017 making five starts and he made 13 starts in the series last year. He had a runner-up finish at Oulton Park and finished third at Spa-Francorchamps.
What could be in his future: I am not sure. Charpenter is the most inexperience driver on the grid and he was at the bottom of each test session. It would be a surprise if he scored points this season. Worst case scenario is he will be an LMP3 driver or LMP2 driver in the European Le Mans Series in the next few years.

carrozzeria Team KCMG
Kamui Kobayashi: #18 KCMG Elyse SF19-Toyota
What has Kobayashi done: After a successful career in Europe with victories in GP2, Kobayashi spent four years in Formula One with his best finish being third in the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix with Sauber. He has spent the last four seasons in Super Formula but has yet to win a victory with three runner-up finishes. He ran his first full season in Super GT last year and won at Buriram. He has spent the last three seasons in Toyota's LMP1 program and he has three victories including two in this current season where he is currently second in the championship.
What could be in his future: Kobayashi is set. He is a Toyota LMP1 driver. He is set. It is surprising he has yet to win a race in this series after four seasons. If it is going to happen it should happen in year five.

Itochu Enex Team Impul
Yuhi Sekiguchi: #19 Itochu Enex Team Impul SF19-Toyota
What has Sekiguchi done: Sekiguchi has spent 11 seasons in Super GT and while he has four victories he has never finished better than fourth in the championship. He has only spent three seasons in Super Formula but he has won four races and he has finished third, fourth and fourth in the championship in those respective seasons.
What could be in his future: Sekiguchi has been on the fringe of championship contention for the last few seasons but this year could be a step back and part of the reason comes in from within the team. He could finish in the top five of the championship.

Ryō Hirakawa: #20 Itochu Enex Team Impul SF19-Toyota
What has Hirakawa done: This will be his fifth season in Super Formula. Last year, he returned after two years focusing on sports cars. In five Super GT seasons, he has five victories and he was 2017 GT500 championship. In 2016 and 2017, he ran in the European Le Mans Series with Thiriet by TDS Racing and G-Drive Racing and he scored three victories in those two seasons as well as making starts in the 24 Hours of Le Mans each season. He also tested for Dale Coyne Racing at Sonoma in 2012.
What could be in his future: Hirakawa seems to be a rising star. He finished one point behind Sekiguchi in the championship last year. I think he will get his first career victory this season and be the top Team Impul driver. Like Kunimoto I think Hirakawa is another driver who could factor into the Toyota LMP1 program. Even if he doesn't, I think Hirakawa could be in sports cars. Looking back on that IndyCar test nearly seven years ago, he went on to win the All-Japan Formula 3 Championship and Porsche Carrera Cup Japan that year. It could have been a case of Dale Coyne finding a diamond in a rough and Coyne keeps drivers in his contacts. Who knows, once the Sébastien Bourdais-era end Coyne might be making a call.

Vantelin Team TOM's
Kazuki Nakajima: #36 Vantelin Kowa TOM's SF19-Toyota
What has Nakajima done: Let's cover Nakajima's exploits at a glance: Two seasons in Formula One with Williams. Two-time Super Formula champion and he has nine victories in eight seasons. He has spent seven seasons in Super GT but he has yet to win a championship despite seven victories in his career. He has been in the Toyota LMP1 program since it began in 2012. He has won ten FIA World Endurance Championship races, including the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans and he leads this season's championship with two races remaining.
What could be in his future: Nakajima is set. He is the staple of the Toyota LMP1 program. He has only won one race in the last three seasons. I think he will be a championship contender and I think it is because of his new teammate, Nick Cassidy.

Nick Cassidy: #37 Vantelin Kowa TOM's SF19-Toyota
What has Cassidy done: This will be Cassidy's third year in Super Formula and last year he lost the title by one-point to Yamamoto. He won the 2017 Super GT GT500 title but lost last year's title to Yamamoto and Jenson Button by three points. Prior to this, he won the Toyota Racing Series championship twice and he was the 2015 All-Japan Formula 3 champion. He made his 24 Hours of Daytona this year with the Lexus GTD program.
What could be in his future: Cassidy is something special and I think Toyota has eyes on him. He was unfortunate roles were not reversed between him and Yamamoto. He led the Super Formula championship entering the final round and was one point behind Yamamoto and Button in GT500 entering the final race. He has to be on Toyota's radar for the LMP1 program. What else could he do? I don't see him being a full-time driver in the Lexus GTD program but if Lexus/Toyota decides to enter DPi, I wouldn't be surprised if he got a call.

Hiroaki Ishiura: #38 JMS INGING SF19-Toyota
What has Ishiura done: Ishiura won the 2015 and 2017 Super Formula championships and he finished third in the championship last year with a victory at Motegi. He has spent 13 seasons in Super GT and won the 2007 GT300 championship. He has won seven Super GT races, including two victories in the Suzuka 1000.
What could be in his future: Ishiura has a career in Japan and I think he will be competitive but take a step back from third in the championship. He has won at least one race each of the last four seasons. That could end this year. I think the grid is really good.

Sho Tsuboi: #39 JMS INGING SF19-Toyota
What has Tsuboi done: Tsuboi spent the last three years in the All-Japan Formula 3 Championship where he finished third in 2016, second in 2017 and he won the championship last year after winning 17 of 19 races with his other two results being second place finishes. In 55 All-Japan Formula 3 starts, Tsuboi won 20 races and had 44 podium finishes. He also won the 2015 F4 Japanese Championship.
What could be in his future: This is part of the reason why Ishiura will take a step back. Tsuboi was slightly faster than Ishiura in testing and he is coming in as a promising young driver. He has dominated the junior series in Japan. Despite his success, he is 23 years old. This isn't a teenager but he is still young and this is his first big step. He needs to get results and I think he will do well. I think he could finish on the podium.

B-MAX with Motopark
Lucas Auer: #50 Red Bull SF19-Honda
What has Auer done: After winning races in the FIA Formula 3 Euro Series, Auer spent the last four seasons in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters and he won four races in that time driving for Mercedes-Benz. He returned to single-seater racing for the first time in five years this winter in the Toyota Racing Series and he finished third in the championship.
What could be in his future: I am not sure. Auer is returning to single-seaters and it is a new set of tracks for him. I do not have high hopes for him. Maybe he scores a few points, which would be a big step up since B-MAX has not scored a point the last two seasons.

Harrison Newey: #51 Goldex Tairoku Racing SF19-Honda
What has Newey done: Newey spent 2016 and 2017 in the Formula 3 European Championship but transitioned to sports cars in the 2017-18 Asian Le Mans Series where he won the LMP2 championship with Jackie Chan DC Racing x Jota. He spent 2018 in the European Le Mans Series and in the most recent ALMS season he finished runner-up in the championship.
What could be in his future: Testing was promising. Newey was consistently 13th or 14th in testing. Maybe he gets a finish or two in the points but the bar is kept low.

TCS Nakajima Racing
Álex Palou: #64 TCS Nakajima Racing SF19-Honda
What has Palou done: Palou ran in the GP3 Series in 2015 and 2016 and he won a race at Yas Marina but in 2017 he moved to Japan and finished this in the All-Japan Formula 3 Championship. He also made four starts in Formula Two and scored points in both races from Jerez. He moved back to Europe and the FIA Formula 3 European Championship in 2018 where he had six podium finishes before finishing seventh in the championship.
What could be in his future: Palou has shown spurts of speed throughout his junior formula career. He took the old school path of leaving the European ladder system for a shot in Japan similar to Pedro de la Rosa, Ralf Schumacher and Michael Krumm. Nakajima Racing has not won a race since he 2010 season opener at Suzuka. Palou was quickest at the Suzuka test and was toward the top of the timesheet in the Fuji test. I think he will score points and maybe he could score a surprise podium finish or even victory.

Tadasuke Makino: #65 TCS Nakajima Racing SF19-Honda
What has Makino done: Makino was vice-champion in the 2015 F4 Japanese Championship to Tsuboi by three points. In 2016, he ran the All-Japan Formula 3 Championship and finished fifth and he also started the final three Super GT races and finished runner-up on debut in Buriram. He moved to Europe in 2017 and ran in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. He moved to Formula Two for 2018 with Russian Time and he won the Monza feature race but finished 13th in the championship.
What could be in his future: Makino was slower than his teammate in testing and I think Makino will score some points. As for the long-term, after years in Europe, he now has to establish who he is in Japan and has to build from here.

The season opening race will be at 1:00 a.m. ET on Sunday April 21st.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Musings From the Weekend: There is Still a Month but Boy Has It Gone Quiet

Alexander Rossi dominated at Long Beach. Formula One had its 1000th race. Both global motorcycle series had weather cancel a session, however, rain only cancelled a MotoGP practice from Austin while snow cancelled all of Saturday for World Superbike for Assen and caused the Superpole race on Sunday to be dropped in favor of a doubleheader on Sunday. Marc Márquez's winning streak in the United States ended at 12 consecutive starts, the last ten all coming in MotoGP, after he fell in Austin. A local won in Supercross' first trip to the Centennial State in over two decades. Formula E had its seventh different winner from a seventh different team through the first seven races of the 2018-19 season and they will not let you forget it as it stakes its claim for most unpredictable/most competitive motorsports series in the world. Here is a run down of what got me thinking.

There is Still a Month But Boy Has It Gone Quiet
Long Beach is a marker in the IndyCar season. It is mid-April. Most of the country is thawed out. Some are still getting snowstorms. Days are longer. Daylight Savings Time has settled in. There are days where you can break out the shorts you haven't seen since early October. Those things aside, something is getting closer. Long Beach is a precursor to the following month. One iconic event leads to another and from here we can start to look to Indianapolis.

It is more than the race itself. It is the start of the 11th hour. This is when the final deals are announced. Someone has put together a program, all the "i's" have been dotted and the "t's" have been crossed and the check cleared. A driver is closer to the dream becoming reality. But this year was different and we didn't have an Indianapolis 500 entry announced on Friday or Saturday or even Sunday morning from Long Beach. We didn't have new sets of hats and polo shirts to stare out. We didn't have ear-to-ear grins with sighs of relief sneaking through beaming smiles. Come to think of it, we haven't had many announcements regarding the month of May since the season started and that is interesting.

The good news is we are a month away from the first practice days at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and we have 33 entries on paper but we have not had an Indianapolis 500 entry announced since James Davison confirmed his Dale Coyne-Jonathan Byrd's-Brian Belardi-Brad Hollinger entry on March 8th. The day prior to that Patricio O'Ward confirmed his plans with Carlin.

In early March, we were talking about 36, 37 and some people were going as far to project 38 or 39 entries. We have not been doing much counting since the IndyCar season started but with a month to go before first practice time is running out for entries to be finalized.

Of the 33 confirmed entries, it is as even as it can be, 17 Hondas and 16 Chevrolets. Looking down the entries and at the teams that have not announced a program, only three stick out for expansion: Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, Harding Steinbrenner Racing and Juncos Racing.

Juncos Racing hasn't even announced an entry yet but with as much as this team has put into its IndyCar program, despite not being a full-time team, you have to think it will be there and it seems likely that Kyle Kaiser will be the driver.

Dreyer & Reinbold ran two cars last year and we have not heard anything about that second entry coming back. We haven't heard anything about J.R. Hildebrand but the pair worked well last year and it would make sense if the two parties gave it another go in 2019.

Harding Steinbrenner Racing was set to be a two-car team this year until the bottom fell out and left Patricio O'Ward on the sidelines. Though Harding Steinbrenner Racing is a small team and is still tight on cash but as much as it is an independent operation, HSR is the offshoot of Andretti Autosport and it would not be a surprise if the likes of Carlos Muñoz found himself in a second HSR car partnering with Colton Herta.

Outside of those three teams, expansion is possible but it is unlikely.

Honda ran 19 cars last year but I am not sure it will have that many entries this year. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has run a third car the last few years but it seems the team is focused on two cars and it is still partnered with the Meyer Shank Racing entry for Jack Harvey. I don't think Meyer Shank Racing is going field an additional entry. The team is still figuring out its way in IndyCar. It seems to be a stretch that Meyer Shank Racing would field a second entry with say Katherine Legge as its driver. Chip Ganassi Racing would have announced its additional entry by now if it were running one. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing is full. Dale Coyne Racing is full.

On the Chevrolet side, A.J. Foyt Racing has not announced an additional entry of its own but it will be helping with the Clauson-Marshall Racing entry for Pippa Mann. Ed Carpenter Racing, Team Penske and Carlin have all announced additional entries. DragonSpeed is taking on a lot just running one car. McLaren is focused on its one entry for Fernando Alonso.

If there is a chance of an entry materializing from a team other than the three speculated above it is Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and working out a deal with Oriol Servià. The team has recent history with Servià. Not long ago Servià was rumored to be working with Éric Bachelart, who was trying to resurrect the Conquest Racing name from the ashes and I think if there is one place that could happen is its SPM. Besides familiarity between Servià and the team the Catalan driver would bring veteran expertise that could come in handy after SPM's qualifying issues last year.

And of course there are more drivers on the outside than seats remaining. Besides the aforementioned Kaiser, Hildebrand, Muñoz and Servià there are Jay Howard, Stefan Wilson, Gabby Chaves, Aaron Telitz and Matthew Brabham are just a few names on the outside and most of them will not even get behind a wheel next month.

Add to the lack of entry discussion is the lack of driver discussion. We really have had heard anything from drivers working on programs, at least nothing more than a few drivers saying they feel good about getting a ride. During yesterday's race broadcast, Robin Miller said J.R. Hildebrand and Oriol Servià have rides and that was it. No speculation on anyone else, no news on a driver scrapping to put funding together, not even some bananas speculation about a driver out of the series for more than nine years trying to mount a comeback. We are at a point where you can't get started on an entry now. Matthew Brabham's name came up this weekend out of the blue from an Australian story. When you are hearing names for the first time in April it usually doesn't happen and it is more a driver hoping a sponsor will jump onboard or there is a team with money that is hiring and that is almost never the case at this time of year.

We are going to get a few more entries. We are going to have bumping but we are getting tight on time. While IndyCar does not have a race in the next three weekends I expect plenty of excitement away from the racetrack as the Indianapolis 500 entry list is finalized. Who will get a deal done? Who will not? What is the quality of those entries? Who is signing up to be sweating bullets during bumping?

We still have a month. It is quiet but is going to get noisy and the month will be gone in a flash.

Winners From the Weekend
You know about Alexander Rossi but did you know...

Lewis Hamilton won the Chinese Grand Prix, his 75th Formula One victory.

Álex Rins won MotoGP's Grand Prix of the Americas, his first career IndyCar victory. It is Suzuki's first grand prix victory in the United States since Ernest Denger and Hugh Anderson won in the 50cc and 125cc classes respective in 1965 at Daytona. Thomas Lüthi won the Moto2 race, his first victory since returning to Moto2 after spending 2018 in MotoGP. Aròn Canet won the Moto3 race, his first victory since Silverstone 2017.

The #5 Action Express Racing Cadillac of Filipe Albuquerque and João Barbosa won the IMSA race from Long Beach. The #912 Porsche of Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor won in GTLM.

Spencer Pumpelly won the GT4 America race from Long Beach.

Martin Truex, Jr. won the NASCAR Cup race from Richmond. Cole Custer won the Grand National Series race.

Álvaro Bautista swept the two World Superbike races from Assen. Federico Caricasulo won the World Supersport race, the fourth different winner in the first four races.

Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard split the Supercars races from Phillip Island.

Mitch Evans won the Rome ePrix, Jaguar's first Formula E victory.

Colorado's Eli Tomac won the Supercross race from Denver, his fifth victory of the season.

The #21 DragonSpeed Oreca-Gibson of Ben Hanley, Henrik Hedman and James Allen won the European Le Mans Series race from Circuit Paul Ricard. The #17 Ultimate Norma-Nissan of Matthieu Lahaye, Jean-Baptiste Lahaye and François Heriau won in LMP3. The #51 Luzich Racing Ferrari of Alessandro Pier Guidi, Nicklas Nielsen and Fabien Laverne won in GTE.

The #54 Dinamic Motorsport Porsche of Klaus Bachler, Andrea Rizzoli and Zaid Ashkanani won the Blancpain Endurance Series race from Monza.

The #8 ARTA Honda NSX of Tomoki Nojiri and Takuya Izawa won the rain-shortened Super GT season opener from Okayama. The #96 K-Tunes Racing Lexus RC F of Sena Sakaguchi and Morio Nitta won in GT300.

Coming Up This Weekend
The Super Formula season opens at Suzuka and that is pretty much it because it is Easter weekend.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

First Impressions: Long Beach 2019

1. This was another whooping Alexander Rossi laid on the IndyCar field at Long Beach and it feels like five races of pent up frustration relieved in his home state. From the untimely caution at Portland to the first lap damage at Sonoma to a disappointing fifth at St. Petersburg, another untimely yellow at Austin and going to his least favorite track of Barber, Rossi's results have not added up to some of the performances he has put on. In none of those races did he stand on the podium and he likely should have been on three of them. Rossi wasn't messing around from the first stint, opening up a gap of over eight seconds to Scott Dixon. If there is one driver you expect to hang in with a leader in the first stint it is Dixon but he had nothing for Rossi. The dominance continued into the second stint and Rossi was in the mid-68 second lap range while most the other drivers were in the low-69 second range.

Rossi was not challenged the rest of the way and he pulled away. He won this race by 20.2359 seconds. He led I think all but five laps. It was just an outstanding performance.

Last year, Rossi cough up a lot of points and while Austin was a big miss, he has been stout. It is still early. This is a de facto quarter point of the season but Rossi has shown this pace on a regular basis in the last two seasons. If he keeps it up and does not have any more hiccups he will be in the championship conversation when the series returns to California in September.

2. Josef Newgarden played everyone again and he got a second place finish out of it. This is what he did in St. Petersburg except it got him a victory there. Newgarden ran a little longer on that opening stint and the likes of Will Power and Scott Dixon got caught in traffic. Newgarden flipped the gap and he made up a few positions. If he keeps doing this he is going to make it tough on Rossi and everyone driver in the field to win the championship.

3. I am not going to be concerned about Scott Dixon. Yes, he lost a podium finish after a slow pit stop because the fuel probe would not engage on his final stop. He lost ground in the championship and he couldn't keep up with Rossi on the opening stint but while we worry about Rossi coughing up points this is likely going to be the one thing to go against Dixon all season and he still finished third. He finished exactly where he was when he had the problem. The man is Teflon. We pencil Dixon into a top five result before every race. He is going to maximize his opportunities and all he could manage was third today. The victories will come and he is going to make up ground.

4. Graham Rahal was solid today and this is a big rebound from the disappointment at Barber. He misses out on the podium after a blocking call on the final lap but fourth is nothing to be disappointed about. It is only two races but the last two races point that Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has found something. There are a lot of races to go but Rahal has had good runs in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and that is the next race. With Allen McDonald now apart of the organization, the man behind Indianapolis 500 pole positions for the likes of Alex Tagliani, James Hinchcliffe and Ed Carpenter, Rahal has to be entering the month of May with more confidence then he has had in any of year.

5. If there is one driver that should have gone to a three-stop strategy it was Ryan Hunter-Reay. He was quick and he missed out on the Fast Six by a little bit after being in the top three for most of the weekend. If Hunter-Reay had gone to the three-stop strategy I think he could have done better than fifth. I don't think he would have beat Rossi but I think he could have pulled out a podium finish. He ran the fastest lap in this one and I think it would have been interesting to see him run flat out for 85 laps. It is still a positive result for Hunter-Reay considering the misfortune he has had at Long Beach.

6. Simon Pagenaud had another solid day and that has to be frustrating because all he has are solid days but never are those days phenomenal. We know Pagenaud can finish sixth place but when is the Frenchman from 2016 going to return and he qualify on the front row and led close to half the race? We know he has it but it is unfathomable Pagenaud has not broken through in over two years. You would still take him as your driver but it is understandable if you are starting to lose your patience. You just got to be strong. The day is coming for Pagenaud.

7. Seventh place is not bad but Will Power had another stubbed toe. Power didn't lose an engine or a turbo or a gearbox but he was running in contention for a podium and then had an overboost issue bite him while in third position exiting turn 11. He was a sitting duck into turn one and was always going to lose a position to Dixon but it went worse when Power blew the corner and an additional four cars went by. The good news for Power is he is the best driver in the history of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and that is the next race, he is the defending Indianapolis 500 winner and he is still with Team Penske. There is plenty of time for him to turn around his season.

8. I think Takuma Sato should take an eighth place finish. It is a good result after his victory and as I said before, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing is heading into the month of May on a high. I am excited for Sato because with an Allen McDonald prepared car he should be quick. Outside of his year at Andretti Autosport, this might be the best car he has had at Indianapolis and he will step behind that wheel on a great run of form. 

9. James Hinchcliffe made up a lot of ground on the first pit cycle and he got a top ten result out of it but ninth was the most he could get out of it. Hinchcliffe was good this weekend before getting caught out when Tony Kanaan caused a red flag in qualifying but I don't think he was going to be challenge for the top five even if he had advanced from the first round of qualifying on Saturday. 

10. This feels like a missed opportunity for Felix Rosenqvist. He probably should have started in the top six had it not been for his accident in the second round of qualifying. I feel like he played it safe and that is understandable but I wish Ganassi rolled the dice and had Rosenqvist on a three-stop strategy. I think he had the ability to do it and pull out a better result than tenth. If anything, maybe the best way to boost a young driver's confidence is to say he is going to drive flat out today. I think he would have loved it and I think he would have pushed for a top five result.

11. Sébastien Bourdais could only manage 11th and I think Bourdais should have tried a three-stop strategy. Dale Coyne loves going offbeat and he didn't today. I think he should have gone for it. He is veteran. He knows what he is doing. The team was working the two-stop strategy into his favor last week at Barber. I think he would have been able to do the same with three stops today.

12. Quickly through the rest of the field: Patricio O'Ward lost a lot of spots on the first stint when he was conserving fuel, which was odd. I still think 12th place is good for O'Ward and he has been the best Carlin driver this season despite no pre-season testing. Marco Andretti was good but dropped out of the top ten after the first stop and couldn't get back in that fight. Max Chilton had a good day and finished 14th. Zach Veach had to make a pit stop for fuel with two laps to go and dropped to 17th.

13. We need to take about A.J. Foyt Racing on its own again. This team reminds me of when Dale Coyne Racing hired Carlos Huertas and Francesco Dracone. The team is better than that. Matheus Leist finished 15th but this is the best he can do. Foyt rushed the kid. He wasn't ready for IndyCar and he is underdeveloped. 

We are watching the final days of Tony Kanaan. He went deep into the tires in qualifying and when word came out Kanaan was battling a hurt knee and back I started to think this is how the ironman streak ends. Kind of like Brett Favre. It doesn't end on top. It ends because an old gunslinger doesn't have the strength to walk into the street. It ends in less than spectacular fashion.

Foyt has been at the rear of the field for a long time but it has had some bright spots, especially with Takuma Sato. The team isn't that far off. In the third practice session Kanaan and Leist were the bottom two cars but they were both within 1.1 seconds of the fastest time. If they find a half-second both cars are fighting to make the second round of qualifying. 

I want this team to be competitive and the team has a history of making too many changes but 2020 has to be step into the future for the team and that likely means letting go one of the most popular drivers of the 21st century. 

14. Ed Carpenter Racing is lost. Ed Jones and Spencer Pigot were 17th and 18th respectively. The team has not had a top ten finish all season. It has been regressing each race since Josef Newgarden left for Team Penske. The team is dying for an oval. I think that will at least be a pick me up but there are only five ovals. The team needs a shakeup because we know it can be a championship contender.

15. Colton Herta clobbered the turn nine wall while fighting for a top ten result and it was his first mistake in an IndyCar. It was bound to happen and these are back-to-back terrible results after his fuel pressure issue at Barber but he will have three weeks to regroup. Marcus Ericsson and Jack Harvey had a coming together in the fountain section and Harvey ended up in the flowers, a first that I can recall. We really haven't seen a spotless weekend from Ericsson yet but that hasn't entirely been his fault. It seems like his first round qualifying group always gets a red flag and it keeps him from completing a hot lap. He has made his mistakes but he has shown competitive pace. I think he just needs one uneventful weekend. Harvey has been good and this was a set back but I think he and Meyer Shank Racing will be fine. Santino Ferrucci blew turn one and stalled during the first pit cycle. That killed any of hope of a top ten finish. 

16. This was a fun race. It wasn't the most active race but it was fun. It was Long Beach and the dye was cast when 95% of the field chose the two-stop strategy. If five or seven drivers tried the three-stop strategy it is a different race. You would have had drivers coming late but we didn't get that. I really wish at least one front-runner tried the three-stop strategy and I think that is the biggest takeaway from this race. It is Long Beach. We know what it is capable of providing and there is no reason to be upset after this one. 

17. We get three weeks off. I do not mind the time off. We need a little break. The teams will not mind it. It will not be a silent three-week period. There is testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on April 24th. After that we heading into the month of May and there are two races scheduled. There is plenty to looking forward to and there is plenty of racing. You just need to be patient. Good things come to those that wait. Patience.

Morning Warm-Up: Long Beach 2019

Alexander Rossi is on pole position again at Long Beach
For the second consecutive year, Alexander Rossi has won the pole position for the Grand Prix of Long Beach. Rossi did it with a lap of 66.4811 seconds in the final round of qualifying. Rossi is the third driver in the last decade to win consecutive pole position at Long Beach. Will Power won three consecutive pole positions from 2009 to 2011 and Hélio Castroneves won three consecutive pole positions from 2015 to 2017. Three drivers have won consecutive Long Beach races from pole position. Mario Andretti did it in 1984 and 1985, Al Unser, Jr. did it in 1989 and 1990 and Sébastien Bourdais did it in 2006 and 2007. Rossi won this race last year after leading 71 of 85 laps. Long Beach could become the first track in Rossi's career where he has multiple victories. Rossi enters this weekend with ten consecutive top ten finishes. His previous best consecutive streak of top ten finishes was five.

Scott Dixon joins Rossi on the front row after the New Zealander missed out on pole position by 0.2668 seconds. Dixon has three runner-up finishes in the last four races and he has five podium finishes since his most recent victory at Toronto. The most podium finishes Dixon has had between victories is six and it has happened twice in his career. He had six runner-up finishes between his victories at Richmond in 2003 and Watkins Glen in 2005 and he had six runner-up finishes between his victories at Nashville in 2006 and Watkins Glen in 2007. The last two times there have been 23 entries for Long Beach, Chip Ganassi Racing has won the race, with Dario Franchitti in 2009 and Dixon in 2015.

After none of the three Penske cars advanced to the final round of qualifying at Barber, Team Penske swept row two and took the final three positions of the top five. Will Power and Josef Newgarden will start on row two. Will Power enters Long Beach ninth in the championship. It is the fifth consecutive season Power has not been in the top five of the championship after the first three races of a season. In four of the previous five seasons Power was either first or second in the championship after three races. This is Newgarden's sixth consecutive top ten start at Long Beach and he enters with four consecutive top ten finishes in this race, however, his third place result in 2017 is his only top five finish at Long Beach. Newgarden could become the sixth different Team Penske driver to win at Long Beach. Team Penske is tied with Chip Ganassi Racing for most different drivers to win for a team at Long Beach with each having five different winners.

Simon Pagenaud rounds out the top five and his 2007 Atlantics Championship title rival Graham Rahal joins him on row three. Pagenaud has not a led lap in the first three races of the season. He has not failed to lead a lap in the first four races of a season since 2013, when he did not lead a lap in the first six races. He won the seventh race at Belle Isle, his first career IndyCar victory. Rahal enters having finished 23rd in three of the last five races. He has finished outside the top twenty in four of the last 14 races. In the 55 races prior, he had only two finishes outside the top twenty. Last year, Rahal ran into the back of Pagenaud into turn one at the start and it ended Pagenaud's race and a stretch of 22 consecutive finishes, all lead lap finishes, for the Frenchman. This is Rahal's third consecutive year starting on row three at Long Beach.

Ryan Hunter-Reay will start seventh. If he takes the green flag, this will be Hunter-Reay's 239th career start, putting him ahead of Jimmy Vasser and into 15th all-time. Hunter-Reay will have the tenth most starts all-time for American drivers behind Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, Jr., Al Unser, Michael Andretti, Johnny Rutherford, Gordon Johncock and Bobby Unser. Hunter-Reay enters this race having made 195 consecutive starts. It is the fifth longest streak in IndyCar history but it is the fourth longest active streak. Hunter-Reay's only victory from seventh starting position was at Iowa in 2012. His best result from seventh starting position at a road or street course was third at Watkins Glen in 2017. Barber winner Takuma Sato joins Hunter-Reay on row four. Since winning at Long Beach in 2013, Sato has finished 22nd, 18th, fifth, 18th and 21st with two retirements, two lead lap finishes and he has not led a lap. This year was only the second time Sato has made it out of the first round of qualifying since his 2013 victory.

Two rookies and two former Indy Lights teammates will start on row five with Patricio O'Ward ahead of Colton Herta. O'Ward becomes the first Mexican driver to contest the Grand Prix of Long Beach since Mario Domínguez and David Martínez in 2008. Domínguez was the third place finisher in that race. Adrain Fernández has the best finish for a Mexican driver at Long Beach as Fernández was the runner-up finisher in 2003. Two of the four Mexican drivers to win an IndyCar race scored their first victory on a street course. Fernández's first career victory was at Toronto in 1996 and Domínguez scored his first victory at Surfers Paradise in 2002. This will be Herta's Long Beach debut. His father Bryan made seven starts at Long Beach and he had five top ten finishes, including a pair of third place finishes in 1998 and 1999.

Marco Andretti advanced to the second round of qualifying for the first time this season but he will start in 11th position. This will be the 11th time Andretti has started 11th in his career. His best finish from 11th was fourth at Sonoma in 2013 and at Toronto in 2017. He has six top ten finishes from 11th starting position. Felix Rosenqvist was set to advance to the final round of qualifying but brought out a red flag on his second hot lap and instead of advancing Rosenqvist will make his Long Beach debut from 12th position. Rosenqvist could become the first driver to score a first career victory in a fourth career start since Sébastien Bourdais did it at Lausitz in 2003. The last road or street course race won from 11th on the grid was the 2015 Toronto race with Josef Newgarden taking the victory. The last road or street course race won from 12th on the grid was the 2012 Long Beach race when Will Power had to start 12th after serving a ten-grid spot penalty for an engine change. The last road or street course race won from 12th by a driver not forced to serve a grid penalty was Ryan Hunter-Reay at Surfers Paradise in 2003.

It will be an all-Dale Coyne Racing row seven with Santino Ferrucci starting one position ahead of his senior teammate Sébastien Bourdais. Only twice in Ferrucci's six career starts has he finished better than his starting position. He went from 20th to 11th last year at Sonoma and at St. Petersburg last month he went from 23rd to ninth. Bourdais enters with top five finishes in the last two races and he has not had top five finishes in at least three consecutive races since 2007 when he won at Edmonton, finished fifth at San Jose and won at Road America and Zolder. After four podium finishes in his first five Long Beach starts, Bourdais has only three top ten finishes in his last eight trips to Long Beach.

James Hinchcliffe starts 15th for the third time in six races. In those prior two starts from 15th he finished 15th at Sonoma and 16th at Austin. He did finish third from 16th on the grid at Long Beach in 2013. The two laps Hinchcliffe led at Barber were his first laps led in nine races when he led 45 laps on his way to victory at Iowa. Hinchcliffe has only led laps in 10 of his 52 starts since the start of the 2016 season. Only seven times in Hinchcliffe's career has he had led double figures on a road/street course. Max Chilton will join Hinchcliffe on row eight. Chilton has not had a top ten finish in 21 consecutive races. His three finishes at Long Beach are 14th, 14th and 17th and he has finished a lap down the last two years.

Ed Jones will have his worst career starting position at Long Beach, as he will roll off from 17th on the grid. In Jones' first two Long Beach starts he started 13th. Jones has finished in the top ten in each of his two Long Beach starts, a sixth in 2017 with Dale Coyne Racing and third place last year with Chip Ganassi Racing. Long Beach is Jones' best track with an average finish of 4.5. Jack Harvey will make his second Long Beach from 18th position. Last year, Harvey's best result of the season came at Long Beach with a 12th place finish. Harvey's car has Acura branding on the car, the first time an IndyCar has carried the Acura name since Parker Johnstone ran six races in 1994 with Comptech Racing. Johnstone's best finish that year was 17th at Cleveland and Laguna Seca.

Marcus Ericsson was caught out by another red flag in his qualifying group and he will start 19th, as Ericsson continues to look for his first trip to the second round of qualifying in his IndyCar career. Ericsson has not finished in the top ten in the fourth race of a season since 2011 in the GP2 Series when he finished third in the sprint race from Circuit de Catalunya. Matheus Leist rounds out the top twenty. Leist finished 14th at Long Beach last year and 14th is Leist's best finish on a street course in his IndyCar career. He would also finish 14th in the second Belle Isle race last season. Since 2008, the best finish for the 19th and 20th starters at Long Beach both came in 2012 with Tony Kanaan going from 19th to fourth and J.R. Hildebrand going from 20th to fifth.

Tony Kanaan was sixth in group one in the first round of qualifying when he went into the tire barrier in turn six and brought out the red flag. The deletion of Kanaan's fastest two laps dropped him to 11th in his group and he will start 21st. Prior to this qualifying result, Kanaan had only started outside the top fifteen at Long Beach on one other occasion. Last season, Kanaan had three top ten finishes in the five street course races, including an eighth place finish at Long Beach. Kanaan enters Long Beach 18th in the championship. It is his worst championship position after three races since he was 19th after the first three races in 2002. Joining Kanaan on row 11 will be Zach Veach. This is Veach's worst starting position since he started 25th in last year's Indianapolis 500. Veach has finished outside of the top ten in the last five races. Last year, Veach entered Long Beach having not finished in the top ten in his previous four starts and he went on to finish fourth in that race.

Spencer Pigot will round out the grid from 23rd position, his worst qualifying result on a road or street circuit. His worst career starting position is 29th, which occurred in each of his first two Indianapolis 500 starts in 2016 and 2017. This will be Pigot's 43rd career start. No driver has had a first career victory come in the 43rd career start of a career. The worst an Long Beach winner has started in the IndyCar era is 17th; Paul Tracy did it in 2000 and Mike Conway did it in 2014. John Watson won the final Long Beach Formula One race from 22nd in 1983 and his McLaren teammate Niki Lauda finished runner-up from 23rd on the grid. The only driver to start outside the top twenty and finish on the podium at Long Beach in the IndyCar era was Justin Wilson, who finished third from 24th starting position in 2013.

NBCSN's coverage of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach begins at 4:00 p.m. ET with green flag scheduled for 4:42 p.m. ET. The race is scheduled for 85 laps.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Track Walk: Long Beach 2019

Alexander Rossi looks to get back to the top step of the podium at Long Beach
The fourth round of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season is the 45th Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. Entering this weekend the top seven drivers in the championship represent seven different teams. Josef Newgarden continues to lead in the championship with 125 points and his drive from 16th to fourth at Barber kept up his streak of three consecutive top five finishes. Newgarden is the only driver with top five finishes in every race this season. The only other driver with top ten finishes in all three races is Alexander Rossi. Newgarden has four consecutive top ten finishes at Long Beach but his only top five finish was third in 2017. He has only led four laps in the track, three of which came last year.

Time: Coverage begins at 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday April 14th with green flag scheduled for 4:42 p.m. ET.
Channel: NBCSN
Announcers: Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy will be in the booth. Kevin Lee, Kelli Stavast, Marty Snider and Robin Miller will work pit lane.

IndyCar Weekend Schedule 
First Practice: 1:00 p.m. ET (45 minutes)*
Second Practice: 5:00 p.m. ET (45 minutes)*
Third Practice: 12:00 p.m. ET (45 minutes)*
Qualifying: 2:45 p.m. ET (Live coverage on NBCSN)
Warm-Up: 12:00 p.m. ET (30 minutes)*
Race: 4:42 p.m. ET (85 laps)

* - All practice and qualifying sessions are available live with the NBC Sports Gold IndyCar pass.

Can Honda Do What Toyota Couldn't?
The first 44 editions of the Grand Prix of Long Beach saw Toyota as the title sponsor. The Japanese manufacture was synonymous with this race and the Toyota branding around the circuit blended in with the palm trees and skyline surrounding the track. It all changes this year with Acura taking over as title sponsor for the famous race.

While Toyota had such a long history sponsoring this race and Toyota had a brief period in IndyCar and one that was fairly successful, a Toyota-powered car never won the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. While there will be no Acura-badged engines on the grid this year, although Jack Harvey's car will carry Acura branding, Acura is a subsidiary of Honda and there will be 14 Honda-powered cars lining up this Sunday.

Honda enters having won the last two races, including sweeping the podium in the Honda sponsored event at Barber last week. Honda has won the last two years at Long Beach and each year it has had two cars on the podium. In last year's race, Honda had five of the top six finishers.

Before Josef Newgarden won at St. Petersburg last month, Honda had won nine of the previous ten street course races and had 20 of 30 podium finishers in those ten races. While Newgarden won at St. Petersburg and Will Power finished third, Scott Dixon finished second, Felix Rosenqvist finished fourth and led 31 laps and Honda had seven of the top ten finishers. Not only did Honda sweep the podium at Barber but it had four of the top five, eight of the top ten and the non-Penske Chevrolet teams finished 16th through 22nd with the only two Hondas those seven Chevrolet entries beat being Graham Rahal, who retired because of an electrical issue, and Colton Herta, who retired due to a fuel pressure issue. Of the ten Chevrolet entries at Barber, only five finished on the lead lap while 12 of 14 Honda teams completed all 90 laps.

In the last two Long Beach races, Honda has led 161 of 170 laps. In each of the last two races, Honda has had seven of the top ten starters.

Toyota did not set the bar high for Honda to clear. In seven years Toyota competed in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach it only managed two podium finishers. Cristiano da Matta was the runner-up finisher in 2001 driving for Newman-Haas Racing and the year before Jimmy Vasser was the third place finisher driving for Chip Ganassi Racing. In that time frame, Toyota didn't even win pole position for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach with Vasser starting second in 2000 and da Matta starting second in 2002.

Honda enters this year's race with 17 Long Beach victories. Alexander Rossi's victory last year broke a time with Cosworth for most Long Beach victories for an engine manufacture.

Will Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Back Up Barber Success?
With all the talk about Honda, attention turns to the team that brought Honda its most recent IndyCar triumph. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing shut out the front row in qualifying with Takuma Sato taking pole position and Graham Rahal starting second. Sato went on to lead 74 laps on his way to his fourth IndyCar victory and his first from pole position.

Rahal retired after an electrical failure but he entered that race fastest in the warm-up prior to the race and during the first stint Rahal remained in the shadow of his teammate. Both RLLR cars were consistently running in the 71-second bracket while the rest of the field struggled with tire degradation and could not match the pace. If his car had not let him down it would have been interesting to see if Rahal could have added pressure to Sato down the stretch.

RLLR has won a race in five consecutive seasons and Sato's victory in the third race of the season is the earliest RLLR has won a race since Bobby Rahal won the second race of the 1992 season at Phoenix, the second race in the team's history. Rahal won the championship that season.

The team has been hovering on the periphery of championship contention since 2015. Graham Rahal was alive for the title entering the final race of 2015 at Sonoma only to finish fourth in the championship after Sébastien Bourdais spun him in turn seven. Rahal won twice that season and had six podium finishes. The problem for the team is it has not put together those type of seasons on a consistent basis. Rahal would finish fifth in the championship in 2016 but his championship position has declined in each of the last two seasons and prior to those two seasons RLLR had not had a top five championship finisher since Buddy Rice in 2004.

Sato has never won consecutive races but he did famously finish second at São Paulo in 2013 the race after his first career victory at Long Beach. Rahal swept the Belle Isle races in 2017 but the only other time RLLR has won consecutive races was with Kenny Bräck at Motegi and Milwaukee in 2001. The team had double top ten finishes at Austin and likely would have had double top ten finishes again at Barber had Rahal's car not suffered the electrical issue. The team had both cars finish in the top ten in six of 17 races last year but in none of those races did both drivers finish in the top five and the team has not had double top five finishers since the 2005 Indianapolis 500 when Vitor Meira finished second and Danica Patrick finished fourth.

After picking up the team's first Barber victory, Sato and Rahal will aim for RLLR's first Long Beach victory. Graham Rahal was the runner-up finisher in the 2013 race, matching his father's best finish in this race, which came in 1988 and in three consecutive races from 1991 to 1993 races, the latter two races coming with the RLLR team, and Jimmy Vasser, who finished second to Michael Andretti after starting on pole position in 2002.

Last year, Rahal finished fifth at Long Beach and the RLLR team had four top five finishes in the five street course races.

Who Can Make It Four-For-Four?
Through the first three races there have been three different winners from three different teams and none of those teams are Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport. Add to the situation that six different teams have won the last six Long Beach races and seven different drivers have won the last seven trips to Shoreline Drive and it appears IndyCar could be set for another new face on the top step of the podium.

Scott Dixon has two runner-up finishes from the first three races and those results have him second all-time in runner-up finishers on 42 with the Barber result elevating him ahead of Hélio Castroneves in that category. Dixon only trails Mario Andretti's record of 56 runner-up finishes. The New Zealander won this race in 2015 when Ganassi had Chevrolet engines. Dixon enters second in the championship on 98 points, 27 markers behind Josef Newgarden.

Alexander Rossi won last year's Long Beach race from pole position and he enters fourth in the championship on 84 points. He has fifth place finishes at St. Petersburg and Barber. Rossi has never won at the same track twice but at the five tracks he has won at, the only track where he has multiple podium finishes in Pocono. Rossi's 12 podium finishes have come at 11 different tracks.

At this point the last two seasons Sébastien Bourdais had already won a race but this year Bourdais has not been as fortunate. The good news for the Frenchman is since his engine failure at St. Petersburg he has rebounded with a fifth place finish in Austin and a third place finish at Barber. Bourdais is a three-time Long Beach winner and he was runner-up finisher two years ago to James Hinchcliffe. However, since 2011, Bourdais has only led five laps at Long Beach, four of which came last year.

James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay are both past Long Beach winners and they are sixth and seventh in the championship. Hinchcliffe is on 71 points and a point behind Bourdais. Hunter-Reay is tied with Will Power on 66 points but Hunter-Reay holds the tiebreaker with an eighth place finish. Hinchcliffe has three consecutive top ten finishes at Long Beach but Hunter-Reay has finished outside the top ten in six consecutive trips to Long Beach. Hunter-Reay has only four top ten finishes in 13 Long Beach starts and his 2010 victory is his only top five result.

Marco Andretti rounds out the top ten in the championship on 61 points and Andretti has five top ten finishes in ten Long Beach starts but he has never finished in the top five at Long Beach and the six laps he has led on this track all came in his first Long Beach start in 2009.

Felix Rosenqvist is a point behind Andretti and while he salvaged a top ten result at Barber, Rosenqvist gets a chance to add to his street circuit conquests this weekend at Long Beach. He led 31 laps and finished fourth in his IndyCar debut at St. Petersburg last month. Long Beach was not on the Indy Lights schedule in 2016 when Rosenqvist ran part of the season but he won at St. Petersburg and swept the Toronto races, making his batting average .750 on street circuits that year. The Swede is renowned for his street course success with victories in the Pau Grand Prix, at the Norisring and he won the Macau Grand Prix twice and had a runner-up finish to boot.

Marcus Ericsson is coming off the first top ten finish in his IndyCar career and Ericsson has put together two encouraging races from poor starting positions the last two times out. While he only got the result in the one race, Ericsson had promising pace at St. Petersburg before the qualifying session from hell where very few drivers had any chance to get a flying lap in and the number of red flags trapped the Swede and he started 18th. In this race, he suffered a radiator puncture, ending his debut early. He worked his way into the top ten at Austin only to have a penalty for an unsafe pit release shuffle him to the rear of the field.

Long Beach is the third round of the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship and after a pair of endurance races totaling 36 hours in Florida, the series now has its shortest race of the year, a 100-minute race on Shoreline Drive. This race will feature only the professional classes of DPi and GTLM meaning this race will feature 21 cars.

Cadillac is two-for-two this season and the Daytona-winning #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac of Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande and the Sebring-winning #31 Action Express Racing Cadillac of Pipo Derani and Felipe Nasr tied on 67 points. Before last year's race where the #5 Action Express Racing Cadillac took the victory, Wayne Taylor Racing had won three consecutive years at Long Beach.

Acura is third in the championship with the #7 Team Penske Acura of Ricky Taylor, who was a part of all three of Wayne Taylor Racing's Long Beach victories, and Hélio Castroneves, who won at Long Beach in Indy Lights in 1997 and he won the 2001 Grand Prix of Long Beach. The #7 Acura has 58 points after a third and a fourth at Daytona and Sebring respectively.

The #5 Action Express Racing Cadillac of Filipe Albuquerque and João Barbosa looks to defend its Long Beach victory and those two are tied with the #54 CORE Autosport Nissan of Colin Braun and Jon Bennett in the championship on 54 points.

The #85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac of Misha Goikhberg and Tristan Vautier are sixth on 50 points, three points ahead of the #6 Acura of Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya and the #55 Mazda of Jonathan Bomarito and Harry Tincknell. Will Owen will have Kyle Kaiser join him in the #50 Juncos Racing Cadillac. Simon Trummer and Stephen Simpson are tied with Owen on 44 points and they will split the #84 JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac. Oliver Jarvis and Tristan Nunez rounds out the championship on 40 points in the #77 Mazda.

Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy took the GTLM championship lead with 61 points after the #911 Porsche won at Sebring. Daytona winner Connor De Phillippi is two points back in the #25 BMW Team RLL entry and Tom Blomqvist is back for this second race of the season. Joey Hand and Dirk Müller sit on 56 points in the #66 Ford GT, tied with the #912 Porsche of Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor but Hand will miss this weekend's race due to the flu. Sébastien Bourdais will pull double duty and replace the American in the #66 Ford GT this weekend.

Corvette has not won in GTLM since last year at Long Beach and the team is still looking for its 100th IMSA victory. Jan Magnussen and Antonio García are fifth in the championship on 55 points. Magnussen has won twice at Long Beach, including with García in 2014. Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook is two points behind the Corvette in the #67 Ford GT. The #24 BMW of John Edwards and Jesse Krohn are on 50 points. Last year's Long Beach winners Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner round out the GTLM championship on 46 points in the #4 Corvette.

The Bubba Burger Grand Prix of Long Beach will take place at 5:00 p.m. ET on Saturday April 13th.

GT4 America
Another 21 sports cars will be on track in Long Beach in the inaugural GT4 America race at the event. Long Beach is the second of eight sprint rounds on the 2019 GT4 America schedule.

The season opening round was at St. Petersburg last month and Ian James and Jade Buford split the two races but Buford will not be at Long Beach. James leads the championship and he will return in the #50 Panoz entry. Gar Robinson is second in the championship on 33 points, two behind James and Robinson will be in the #74 Camaro with his teammate Shane Lewis fifth in the championship on 15 points in the #72 Camaro. Spencer Pumpelly is five points behind James and Pumpelly is back in the #66 TRG Porsche.

Rounding out the Pro entries are Michael Cooper, who scored 12 points at St. Petersburg in the #10 Blackdog Speed Shop McLaren, Nicolai Elghanayan, who did not score any points in the #71 Marco Polo Motorsports KTM and Matthew Brabham, who makes his debut this season in the #20 CRP Racing Porsche.

Preston Calvert leads the Am class sprint championship with 40 points in the #51 Panoz. Calvert split the St. Petersburg races with Alan Brynjolfsson, who is seven points behind Calvert in the championship in the #7 Park Place Motorsports Porsche. Marko Radisic is third on 30 points and he will be in the #22 BMW for Precision Driving Tech.

Tony Gaples has 22 points and he will be back in the #10 Blackdog Speed Shop McLaren. Mark Klenin rounds out the top five on 20 points in the #62 KPR McLaren. Jarett Andretti started on pole position in the first race from St. Petersburg but retired from that race. He rallied in race two with a third place finish and the driver of the #18 Andretti Autosport McLaren heads to Long Beach with 15 points.

The GT4 America race is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday April 14th.

Fast Facts
This will be the sixth IndyCar race to take place on April 14th and the first since Michael Andretti won at Long Beach in 2002.

This will be the fifth time the Grand Prix of Long Beach will take place on April 14th. Mario Andretti won on April 14, 1985, Al Unser, Jr. took the victory in 1991, Jimmy Vasser in 1996 and the aforementioned Michael Andretti in 2002.

This year's race is the earliest the fourth round of a season taking place in one calendar year has been since 1996 when Long Beach was the fourth race on April 14th. The fourth round of the 1996-97 IRL season took place on March 23, 1997 at Phoenix but the first two races of that season where August 18, 1996 at Loudon and September 15, 1996 at Las Vegas.

Six of the 11 IndyCar seasons since reunification have had four different winners in the first four races of the season.

Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing and Newman-Haas Racing are all tied for most Long Beach victories at six apiece.

Five drivers have scored their first victory at Long Beach (Michael Andretti, Paul Tracy, Juan Pablo Montoya, Mike Conway and Takuma Sato).

Not only has seven different drivers won the last seven Long Beach races but those seven drivers all represent seven different nationalities.

There have not been consecutive American winners at Long Beach since Al Unser, Jr. in 1994-95 and Jimmy Vasser in 1996.

Alexander Rossi could join Mario Andretti (1984-85), Al Unser Jr. (1988-91 and 1994-95), Alex Zanardi (1997-98), Paul Tracy (2003-04) and Sébastien Bourdais (2005-07) to win the Grand Prix of Long Beach in consecutive seasons.

The average starting position for a Long Beach winner is 4.228 with a median of three.

Rossi's victory from pole position last year was the first time the pole-sitter won at Long Beach since Bourdais in 2007. It was the first time a front row starter won at Long Beach since Dario Franchitti in 2009.

Eight of the last 11 Long Beach races have been won from the second row.

The average number of lead changes in a Long Beach race is 4.97 with a median of five.

The last three Long Beach races have had six lead changes.

Only three times has the Long Beach race not had a lead change (1984, 1987 and 2001).

The average number of cautions in a Long Beach race is 2.857 with a median of three. The average number of caution laps is 11.628 with a median of 12.

Only three times has the Long Beach not had a caution (1985, 1987 and 2016).

Possible Milestones:
Ryan Hunter-Reay is one start away from passing Jimmy Vasser for 15th all-time.

Graham Rahal is one top five finish away from 50 top five finishes.

Takuma Sato is one top ten finish away from 50 top ten finishes.

Ryan Hunter-Reay needs to lead 45 laps to reach the 1,500 laps led milestone.

Simon Pagenaud needs to lead 64 laps to reach the 1,000 laps led milestone.

Alexander Rossi needs to lead 61 laps to reach the 600 laps led milestone.

Graham Rahal needs to lead 20 laps to reach the 400 laps led milestone.

I am sticking with Alexander Rossi until he gets a victory and he defends his Long Beach victory but a Penske and a Ganassi car will join him on the podium. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has one car finish in the top ten and another finish outside the top ten. At least one driver will make the Fast Six for the first time this season. A.J. Foyt Racing continues its slide. Simon Pagenaud will not be the worst finishing Team Penske driver. Sleeper: Felix Rosenqvist.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Musings From the Weekend: Looking at 1000

Takuma Sato led Honda's dominant performance in the Honda-sponsored race at Barber Motorsports Park. In other news from Barber Motorsports Park, a sweeper flipped. At Bristol, Toyota swept the races. After taking a week off, Team Penske's world domination is still on. A Spaniard defended home soil from the Brits. Supercross made its maiden trip to Nashville and nobody other than Cooper Webb wants to win that championship. I completely forgot the World Touring Car Cup season was starting. Next weekend is going to be jam-packed full of races with second of back-to-back weekends for some series, a handful of season openers and an historic milestone event in Formula One. Here is a run down of what got me thinking.

Looking at 1000
Formula One is hitting a massive milestone this weekend. It is not just any other Chinese Grand Prix but this Sunday from Shanghai will be the 1,000th grand prix in the Formula One World Championship.

Of course, there has been more than 1,000 grand prix races. There is an entire era of grand prix race pre-dating the first Formula One race in 1950, there are the races of Tazio Nuvolari, Bernd Rosemeyer and Rudolf Caracciola before World War I, the early days of the 20th century and many non-championship races that were still considered a grand prix though no championship points were awarded.

Anyway you cut it, Formula One is in its 70th season and it is about to reach a fourth-digit. It is a tremendous occasion and it is natural to look back. It is a chance to see where Formula One has come, not just from race one to 1000 but also in race 900 to race 1000.

The century-mark milestones are coming at a faster rate, the differences between each might not be as grand as from the 100th race, the 1961 German Grand Prix where Stirling Moss scored his final grand prix victory, to the 200th race, the 1971 Monaco Grand Prix where Jackie Stewart took a grand slam victory.

The 900th grand prix was only five years ago in Bahrain, the first night race at the circuit. Lewis Hamilton took the victory for Mercedes-Benz. Hamilton is still at Mercedes-Benz but his teammate Nico Rosberg won a championship and has since retired. Sebastian Vettel has gone from Red Bull to Ferrari, Daniel Ricciardo has gone from Red Bull to Renault. Caterham and Marussia are no longer on the grid. Lotus is now Renault, Sauber is now Alfa Romeo and Force India is now Racing Point. The grid now has an American team in Haas F1.

The differences from race 800 to race 900 might be better but it is amazing that each was a night race, something that had not happened for the first 57 years of Formula One. The 800th race was the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix, a historic event beyond the barriers in broke for Formula One, taking the series solidly into the new money of the 21st century but the controversial results after Renault team orders saw Nelson Piquet, Jr. intentionally spin into the barrier and setting up for Fernando Alonso to take the victory. In the mean time, a botch Felipe Massa pit stop allowed Lewis Hamilton to extend his championship lead and set up one of the most climatic championship finishes in Formula One history.

Beyond the time of the race and the manipulation, it was the naturally aspirated V8-era with 19,000-RPM limiters, pre-Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems, Bridgestone tires and only the top eight received points with the winner scoring ten.

No driver has repeated in winning a century mark grand prix. Someone could join Moss, Stewart, Ronnie Peterson, Niki Lauda, Nelson Piquet, Jacques Villeneuve, Giancarlo Fisichella, Alonso and Hamilton or Hamilton could do the unprecedented once again. The only manufacture to win multiple century mark grand prix is Lotus. Ferrari has never won one. Ironically, this will be the sixth time a century mark grand prix has occurred in the third round of a season.

Formula One isn't the only series to hit the century mark. After years of relatively smaller calendars it is not a surprise it has taken Formula One this long to reach such a number. NASCAR's 1000th race in the Cup series occurred on February 28, 1971, prior to the start of the modern-era at Ontario and A.J. Foyt won the race. It would take another 16 years to reach the 1500th race. It was at Martinsville on April 26, 1987 and Dale Earnhardt took the victory. The 2000th race was on March 23, 2003 at Bristol and Kurt Busch won it. The 2500th race was a little over two years ago at Atlanta, March 5, 2017 to be specific and Brad Keselowski won that day. After this weekend's race at Bristol, the NASCAR Cup Series has contested 2,557 races.

Brad Keselowski also holds the honor of winning the 1000th race in NASCAR's second national touring division. That came on September 6, 2013 at Richmond and he only led the final 11 laps after Brian Scott led the first 239 laps from pole position.

IndyCar has also reached and surpassed the 1000th race milestone but IndyCar's history is a little more complicated. Stretching back over a century and spanning multiple sanctioning bodies, the record book is a bit contested with discrepancies over number of races during some season and that can easily swing what the 1000th race is by a handful of years. The two notable conflicts are 1920 and 1946. Some say the 1920 season was five races and others say it was 11 races with some races retroactively being added to count toward the championship. The 1946 season is a greater swing of the pendulum. The post-war season was either six races or it was 77 races, as that season the American Automobile Association counted sprint car races to the national championship in worries that there would not be enough entries.

The best guide to follow is IndyCar's record book and it says 1920 was 11 races and 1946 was six races. Using those numbers the 1000th race was June 19, 1988 at Portland and Danny Sullivan took the victory. The 1500th race was at Milwaukee on May 31, 2009 and Scott Dixon won the race. The Barber race on Sunday was IndyCar's 1667th race.

Ironically, the Supercars series reached the 1000th race milestone at Melbourne while running in conjunction with the Australian Grand Prix. Scott McLaughlin won that race and the series is now on 1004th races.

In Grand Prix Motorcycle racing, between all the classes from MotoGP to 50cc, 500cc to 250cc, Moto2 to Moto3, and all the other classes, there have been 3,102 races. The 1000th race was May 11, 1975 at the Hockenheimring, a 50cc race on Ángel Nieto was the winner. The 2000th race was the second 500cc race of the 1997 season and winner was Mick Doohan at Suzuka on April 20th. The 3,000th race was the MotoGP race on May 7, 2017 at Jerez and Dani Pedrosa took the honor of winning that race.

On paper, the 2019 Chinese Grand Prix is another race, though being Formula One's 1000th race. It will be a giant ceremony and a reflection on 70 seasons of Formula One and when it comes 1000th races this is the time to do it. Nostalgia is good when done at the appropriate times and this is the best time to look back. You have to look back at where you have been and what has changed. You cannot do it all the time but this is the time to do it.

While Formula One is in a time of transition and is trying to figure out new regulations it is going to be around for a long time. There have been many great races and there will be many more to come. Race 1000 is not the end and soon it will be another marker to look back on to see where Formula One was and be used to compare how far the series has gone.

Winners From the Weekend
You know about Takuma Sato but did you know...

Kyle Busch won the NASCAR Cup race at Bristol. Christopher Bell won the Grand National Series race.

Scott McLaughlin and Shane Van Gisbergen split the Supercars races from Symmons Plains.

Álvaro Bautista swept the three World Superbike races from Aragón, his third sweep in three weekends and Jonathan Rea finished second in all three races again. Randy Krummenacher won the World Supersport race, his second victory of the season.

Eli Tomac won the Supercross race from Nashville.

Esteban Guerrieri, Gabriele Tarquini and Thed Björk split the World Touring Car Cup races from Marrakesh.

Coming Up This Weekend
The 1000th Formula One grand prix will be in China.
IndyCar has its first back-to-back of the season and will head to Long Beach.
IMSA will also be in Long Beach.
GT4 America makes it three notable series in Long Beach.
MotoGP is back in Marc Márquez's favorite or at least his second favorite country the United States and very few people in the United States will have a chance of watching it.
Supercars has the second of a back-to-back at Phillip Island.
World Superbike has the second of a back-to-back at Assen.
Formula E is in Rome.
Supercross returns to Denver.
NASCAR has its first night race at Richmond.
The European Le Mans Series opens 2019 at Circuit Paul Ricard.
The Blancpain Endurance Series opens 2019 at Monza.
Super GT opens 2019 at Okayama.