Monday, April 19, 2010

Ryan Hunter-Reay and Andretti Autosport Pull Off Victory in Long Beach

Photo Credit: Richard Dowdy

With NASCAR races in Texas postponed by rain and the Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix race on the wet Shanghai International Raceway, The IZOD IndyCar Series weekend racing action in Long Beach, California was performed under dry, sun-baked temperatures. Capping the race weekend which involved the Firestone Indy Lights and American Le Mans Series in a spectacular race on Saturday, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach main event for the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series started with polesitter Will Power leading Ryan Hunter-Reay and Justin Wilson into turn one.

The #12 Verizon Penske Racing car of Power held the lead through the initial laps as the Long Beach track and race was not availing drivers with any great increases in passing opportunities than the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama race at Barber Motorsport Park. The green flag allowed Power to separate himself from much of the field with exception of the IZOD-sponsored #37 Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay and the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing #22 car of Justin Wilson.

On lap 16, the move of a race occurred as the front running cars of Power and Hunter-Reay entered Long Beach's turn 11. Arcing through the corner, Will Power's #12 car came off the corner slowly allowing Ryan Hunter-Reay and later Justin Wilson to pass Power. While Will Power backslid through the grid as his #12 Dallara-Honda crawled up to speed, the car recovered to race pace shortly. For what might have been a costly incident, the #12 Penske Racing team driver cited a gear-selection problem as culprit. Will Power maintains a podium position run almost throughout the following laps.

Photo Credit: Steve Swope

As the race laps ticked, there was no movement within the top three positions. However, the path of these leaders would not be entirely smooth sailing. Passing the lapped car of IndyCar Series full-season rookie Alex Lloyd driving the Dale Coyne-owned #19 car on lap 53, Justin Wilson had has front wing broken when the #19 took away a passing line. Coming to the attention of his #22 Z-Line Designs pit crew, a replacement nose assembly and rejoined the IndyCar field. An unpopular move, the driver #19 Boy Scouts of America car issued a Twitter understand. "Want to apologize to Justin. It was the corner after Ryan went by and I just didn't know he was there. Glad he recovered well!" Lloyd said.

The only caution of the Toyota Grand Prix of Grand Prix came out as result of an on-track collision between Mario Romancini and Graham Rahal. While Romancini will race again on the Kansas Speedway oval in two weeks, Graham Rahal is possibility going to be a healthy scratch to the IZOD IndyCar lineup in Kansas unless another ride will open up soon. Summing up his disappointment on his Twitter page, Rahal said "Incredibly frustrated. Horrible end to a bad weekend. Dollar General guys have been incredible, unfortunately we just couldn't get it right."

The last retirement of the race came on lap 65 as the FAZZT Race Team and Alex Tagliani were forced to park their entry after showing promise on several occasions on stop watches. After setting some fast laps through practicing Alex Tagliani's Long Beach race got off to a troubling start when Marco Andretti made light contact with the FAZZT Race Team #77 Dallara. Only damaging the tire ramp, the two cars continued without any measurable aftereffects of the accident. With a refueling issue on pit road during lap 29, Tagliani's race ended later on lap 65 when contact broke the front suspension of the #77 car.

In the end, Ryan Hunter-Reay muscled his #37 IZOD Andretti Autosport car across the start/finish line. Passing Will Power into the final laps, Justin Wilson elevated himself to a 2nd place finish for the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team. Will Power takes 3rd place in the event securing a podium finish in all four IZOD IndyCar Series races so far for 2010.

The first Andretti Autosport team win since Tony Kanaan at Richmond in 2008, the trophy from this race was a deeply personal win for the driver. Dedicating this win to his recently dearly departed mother, Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrated an emotional victory at Long Beach with the support of Andretti Autosport drivers and crew members. Planting a hug on the winning American driver, car owner Michael Andretti and teammate Danica Patrick both proudly congratulated Ryan Hunter-Reay. As the day concluded, Ryan Hunter-Reay posted a twitter message saying "Huge win today, finally going to bed. Thank you all so much for your support. It means so much."

Taking a week off, the IZOD IndyCar Series returns May 1 for the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway. The first oval for the tour, this race is also being viewed as a preparation for the Memorial Day classic Indianapolis 500.

2010 IZOD IndyCar
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
Final Race Results

1. 37 Ryan Hunter-Reay/United States/ Andretti Autosport
2. 22 Justin Wilson/England/ Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
3. 12 Will Power/Australia/ Penske Racing
4. 9 Scott Dixon/New Zealand/ Target/Chip Ganassi Racing
5. 11 Tony Kanaan/Brazil/ Andretti Autosport
6. 32 Mario Moraes/Brazil/ KV Racing Technology
7. 3 Helio Castroneves/Brazil/ Penske Racing
8. 6 Ryan Briscoe/Australia/ Penske Racing
9. 4 Dan Wheldon/England/ Panther Racing
10. 24 Mike Conway/England/ Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
11. 14 Vitor Meira/Brazil/ AJ Foyt Enterprises
12. 10 Dario Franchitti/Scotland/ Target/Chip Ganassi Racing
13. 06 Hideki Mutoh/ Japan/ Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing
14. 26 Marco Andretti/United States/ Andretti Autosport
15. 8 EJ Viso/Venezuela/ KV Racing Technology
16. 7 Danica Patrick/United States/ Andretti Autosport
17. 78 Simona De Silvestro/Switzerland HVM Racing
18. 5 Takuma Sato/Japan/ KV Racing Technology
19. 19 Alex Lloyd/England/ Dale Coyne Racing
20. 2 Raphael Matos/Brazil/ Luczo Dragon/de Ferran Motorsports
21. 77 Alex Tagliani/Canada/ FAZZT Race Team
22. 67 Graham Rahal/United States/ Sarah Fisher Racing
23. 34 Mario Romancini/Brazil/ Conquest Racing
24. 36 Bertrand Baguette/Belgium/ Conquest Racing
25. 18 Milka Duno/Venezuela/ Dale Coyne Racing

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