Hinchcliffe Wins LB Grand Prix

By: 
Collin James

After three days of intense racing in the Verizon Indycar Series, Canadian James Hinchcliffe emerged as the winner of the 2017 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday. He gunned his Honda past the final turn and into the finish line while keeping this competitors behind him in the last of the 85 laps.

This is Hinchcliffe’s fifth Indycar victory and his first win since his near fatal accident in 2015.

“It is so tight that any advantage you have is small,” Hinchcliffe said after winning. “You do have to execute perfectly on Sundays. It is truly a championship where you show up to any given round and can come into win that day.”

Hinchcliffe fended off stiff competition from returning GPLB champions including three-time GPLB winner Sebastien Bourdais (France) who won second place. Bourdais entered the race fresh from his victory in St. Petersburg, Florida in March. Josef Newgarden (U.S.) finished in third, making it his first podium position for team Penske.

After Friday’s preliminary and Saturday’s qualifying rounds, Hinchcliffe was ranked ninth. His victory was a huge upset, but not a surprise for the other riders.

“We all know that we are all capable of winning from last place,” Newgarden said during a post-race press conference. “James [Hinchcliffe] was looking strong all week, so it’s no surprise that he was in a position to capitalize.”

Scott Dixon (New Zealand) set a track record during the Saturday’s qualifying round. Dixon finished last year’s Grand Prix in second place behind Simon Pagenaud (France) and won in 2015. This year however, Dixon dominated from the start for much of the first half of the race, before slipping into fifth. 

Charlie Kimball (U.S.) and Will Power (Australia) collided with each other in the opening lap, and Kimball and his car was taken out of the race while Power spent the rest of the race in the back.

Pagenaud was issued a warning and a monetary fine for unattended equipment in the pitstop, though his standing was unaffected by the penalty.

Pagenaud and Dixon finished fourth and fifth respectively.

The last three laps began with a caution run. In those final three laps, Bourdais and Newgarden attempted to overtake Hinchcliffe, but both drivers were rebuffed.

The entire Andretti Autosport racing team failed to complete the race for a variety of reasons, including Ryan Hunter-Reay (U.S.) who led the race after Dixon fell behind. Marco Andretti took himself out of the race after a mechanical problem.

This race concluded the three-day Grand Prix, which brought in over 180,000 attendees from around the world to watch the races.

Other races included the Can-Am Challenge which raced 1000 plus horsepower super cars, one of the loudest events that weekend, and the Motegi Super Drift Challenge, which reminded attendees what burning rubber is all about.

Robby Gordon’s Super Stadium Truck challenge capped off the exciting weekend with aggressive truck racing and high-speed ramp jumps. 

On winning his first Grand Prix in Long Beach, Hinchcliffe said, “43 years running, it comes second only to the Indy 500. There is no three-day event that has this kind of fan interaction, or this fan attendance.”

For more information on the winners and stats from the races, visit: GPLB.com.

collin@beachcomber.news

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