LiveBlog: Long Beach 2010

Posted by Iannucci | 4/18/2010 | , , | 0 comments »
Bookmark and Share

Welcome to Southern California where your humble host is LIVE on site for the 36th running of the Grand Prix of Long Beach. I've had a blast this weekend talking to race fans and now I'm going to sit down and bring this week's LiveBlog coverage from the spectacular vantage point of ...the basement of the media center.

Yes, it's the dirty little secret that when in the media the choices for covering the race are either (a) in the pits watching a TV monitor and not hearing anything or (b) sitting in a media center watching the VERSUS broadcast. I chose the latter since that's where the wi-fi is.

So today we have another street race, our third in four races, and who's on the pole but none other than Will Power. Not exactly shocking since his performance thusfar in 2010 has left everyone expecting him to run away with any street race. It's gotten so bad even Team Penske's Tim Cindric, on seeing Will running 4th on a practice session earlier this weekend, said coyly to Power "You sandbaging it out there today?"

But no matter, he's still gotta run the 85-lap race and Ryan Hunter-Reay, Justin Wilson and Power's teammates will be nipping at his heels. Or at least trying their best to nip at his heels.

And with that, it's time to start.

0: Cars are hot. Flyover conducted. TSO Patrick is sitting next to me chowing on some kind of Mexican meal. We are good to go.

0: One more lap to green. Curt Cavin is now down here. He's on the opposite side of the room with all those real media people, but I'm cool with that since I'm closer to "Leah" the hearing aid dog. She's staring at me, and with this Mexican food next to me I SWEAR I hear "You quiero Taco Bell".

1: And we are GREEN! Power leads the way but speaking of green Tony Kanaan jumps from 6th to 4th before the 1st turn. He's feeling the power of Brazilian fuel.

2: Power, Hunter-Reay, Wilson up front, but things get a little dicey around 9th as Tagliani cuts off Marco and appears to remove part of Andretti's front wingplate. Probably not the last piece of broken carbon fiber we'll see today.

4: The entire lap is run without any passes as the front three appear to separate from the pack. Did I mention Dixon and Franchitti are in 7th and 8th respectively. Somewhere Chip Ganassi is feeling unhappy and hugging a stuffed delta wing pillow.

6: Danica Patrick is in 20th. Even ESPN wouldn't be showing her that far back.

7: Milka Duno is at the back, 47 seconds off the pace. The lap times for the leaders are running around 71 seconds, and Milka is running 78 second laps. So she should get some TV airtime shortly.

10: Amazingly Ryan Hyphen-Reay is only 6 tenths of a second back of Power. There's a part of me that wonders if Power is sandbagging a bit conserving fuel here.

12: Milka is now 1 lap down, and since the leaders didn't pass here I'm guessing she had to make a pits stop before she became a factor.

14: Track feed shows Milka has been parked. In the pits with grooved tires now on the car. Somewhere Nicole Manske is doing a Snoopy Dance.

15: New last place car is Bertrand Baguette, 29 seconds back. If he plays his cards right this will be the only time I mention him all day.

18: Power appears to be slowing dramatically - like he missed a gear - and so Hunter-Reay and Wilson go right around him. Meanwhile, when no one was looking, Briscoe got around Helio for 5th.

20: IZOD poster boy Hunter-Reay is rocketing away and is now 1.5 seconds ahead of Wilson. Now would be a good time to mention that I'm currently wearing IZOD jeans. For real. Gotta represent the title sponsor.

21: Just checked the leaderboard. Power is still in 3rd but Dario, who's usually pretty tough on these street race deals, has dropped to 11th. Asheley can't blame that on Milka this week.

24: Here comes the strategy. Danica, Rafa and Simona all make pit stops.

25: Rafa pays the price as Hunter-Reay laps him after pit exit.

26: Dario pits. Sato pits. That can only mean one thing - he's still in the race. Other cars pit as well.

27: Finally a leader pits as Wilson makes a stop. Cleans stop, comes out on the blacks.

28: Hunter-Reay pits meaning Will Power once again leads. In and out like a professional.

29: LLoyd and Sato mix it up and Sato goes sideways into a runoff. Looks like Takuma didn't stall it so he's still racing. Meanwhile Kanaan and Helio made a pit stops.

30: Power finally pits, along with Briscoe and Tagliani. T&S indicates they were the last three to make a stop.

31: Televised overtaking breaks out as Kanaan gets around Briscoe and Helio makes a move to pass Tagliani. Top 5 are now Hunter-Reay, Wilson, Kanaan, Power, Briscoe.

32: Mario Moraes in 9th. Really? Not too shabby.

32: It's a celebration of televised overtaking, as Briscoe passes Kanaan for third and then Kanaan passes him right back a turn later through turns 4 and 5. Hooray for racing!

35: I've hear the N****R race in Texas was rained out today. Hopefully VERSUS - who graciously gave a group of IndyCar fans a tour of their trucks today - will benefit with a ratings bump. Hope springs eternal.

37: The Big Hyphen leads Wilson by over 2 seconds and Kanaan and Briscoe by over 7 seconds. Smell ya later, dudes.

38: I can't hear the VERSUS commentary, so if when Jack Arute says something memorable I'm going to be totally oblivious. My viewing is not enhanced.

40: Hunter-Reay, Wilson, Power, Kanaan, Briscoe. Simona 17th, Danica 18th for those who are interested.

43: Haven't had a yellow flag yet. Shades of Homestead in '09.

44: First to last on the track is a 48 second differential, so we aren't likely to see any lapped traffic come in to play.

46: Tagliani makes what's likely an unscheduled pit stop. Must not have gotten fully fueled on his first stop since it seemed like he only got more ethanol.

48: Evidently T&S was wrong since Hunter-Reay is now all up on Alex Lloyd and about to lap him. Meanwhile Wilson is closing on Hunter-Reay. Oh, the drama!

51: Wilson has caught Hunter-Reay, who is still battling to get around Lloyd. In fairness to Alex, he's running well and not exactly blocking.

53: And...finally Hunter-Reay gets around Lloyd. Wilson tries to duck underneath and OUCH Lloyd cuts him off and folds up Wilson's front wing. Oh, that's gonna be a pitstop.

54: Lloyd may have a cut tire as well as both he and Wilson pit. Dreyer & Reinbolds Larry Curry is shouting and finger-pointing at an official right now.

55: Hunter-Reay, Power, Kanaan, Dixon, Helio.

56: Pitstops for what seems like all the leaders so I have no idea who's leading. Maybe Dixon? Meanwhile Baguette is 11 laps off. Toasted in the pits with "mechanical" issues.

59: Dixon pits. The last driver left to make a second stop is Mike Conway. Leaders are now Hunter-Reay, Power, and Conweezy.

60: YELLOW! Rahal goes into the tires and Mario Romancini goes right into his attenuator. The Grahamerican jumps out of the car and goes over to "have words" with Mario. Replay shows Mario hip-checked Graham in a battle for 20th, and Graham got his hands off the steering wheel about a split second before incurring a broken wrist.

61: Apparently D&R's Larry Curry was not exactly pleased with race control either. He said "If Brian Barnhart won't do his job they need to get someone who can!" Much discussion regarding the concept of ordering drivers to allow themselves to be lapped breaks out all around.

65: Leaders are Hunter-Reay, Power, Wilson, Dixon, Kanaan. That yellow was good news for Justin but bad for his teammate Conway who hadn't yet made his 2nd pit stop.

66: Back to GREEN! And we are cleanly back to racing.

67: Wilson, enraged by earlier events, closes in and passes Will Power for second. Elsewhere Danica makes an aggressive more and passes Simona for 16th.

68: Hunter-Reay has a lead over Wilson of over three seconds. To quote Morrissey, stop me if you think that you've heard this one before.

69: Sato is kindly pulling aside and letting everyone not named "Milka" around him. He just wants everyone to get a better look at his stylin' ride.

72: Hunter-Reay's lead is up to 6 seconds, which may be due in part to the lapped Rafa Matos who seems to be holding up Wilson. Where's the love, Rafa?

74: Moraes is up to 6th. Really. Very stealth performance by the lost Jonas Brother today.

76: Hunter-Reay is in total control. Wouldn't be surprised if he soon starts tweeting from the car about how awesome his Dallara is handling.

79: True story: walking pit road during a practice session some guy came flying by me, tripped on the curb, and fell down. It was Michael Andretti, and in the second before he got up I momentarily panicked that he had snaped his ankle and everyone would blame me.

80: I only mention that because Andretti's team is about to get his first win in quite a few races. (Maybe Milwaukee in '08?)

81: Hunter-Reay by 5 seconds. Wilson, Power, Dixon, Kanaan. Moraes still hanging in 6th.

84: White flag. You know who by a comfortable margin. I'm sure IZOD is quite thrilled about their driver winning at Long Beach.

85: Checkered flag for Ryan Hunter-Reay, winner of the 36th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach! A few folks here in the media center declared "that's kinda nice". If you mean seeing someone other than Team Penske win this year I'd say that's an understatement.

Post-race interviews deployed: Ryan says his car was "fun" a bunch of times. Dedicates his race to his mother who passed away last year. Gets some sugar from his main squeeze Beccy Gordon. Thanks IZOD and Michael Andretti.

Meanwhile...hey, I need to get ready for the post-race press conference! Sorry to cut things short today, so thanks to all of you for enjoying the race. I've got work to do, so thank you very much, and good night.