IndyCar: Some Long Beach stats from first two races with new DW12

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Here’s a couple interesting stats leading into this weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (4 p.m. ET Sunday, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra).

No chance for a JR three-peat…

Believe it or not, the only driver who has top-five finishes in both of the last two Toyota Grands Prix of Long Beach is JR Hildebrand, who finished fifth in both 2012 and 2013 for Panther Racing. He also raced here in 2011 as an IndyCar rookie, 2010 in ALMS, 2009 in Indy Lights (he won) and 2007 in Formula Atlantic.

With Hildebrand sidelined until the Indianapolis 500, he won’t have a chance to extend that streak.

…Or a Franchitti P1 trifecta

We’re guaranteed to have a new polesitter at Long Beach for the first time since the Dallara DW12’s introduction, as Dario Franchitti’s enforced retirement opens up P1 on the grid.

Franchitti inherited the 2012 pole after Ryan Briscoe was among all the Chevrolet-engined cars needing a change, and a subsequent 10-spot grid penalty, ahead of the race weekend. Then the Scotsman stormed to the first of his four 2013 poles at this race last year.

Power, RHR, Pagenaud, Sato, Wilson do have shots at three in a row

Like Franchitti, Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay made the Firestone Fast Six in both of the last two Long Beach races.

Other than Hildebrand, 2013 winner Takuma Sato, Simon Pagenaud and Justin Wilson have posted top-10 finishes in both of the last two years at Long Beach, and can make it three-for-three this weekend.

Kyle Kaiser to step up to IndyCar with Juncos Racing

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Kyle Kaiser will make his step up for his initial four-race program into the Verizon IndyCar Series with the team that’s brought him all his success in the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires: Juncos Racing.

The 21-year-old American will race at next year’s Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Grand Prix along with two other races in the 2018 season, as his reward for winning this year’s Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship and the $1 million Mazda Motorsports Advancement Scholarship that comes with it.

At the moment the plan is just for a partial season as both driver and team are new to IndyCar. Kaiser hasn’t yet tested an IndyCar and Ricardo Juncos’ team made its debut in the 2017 Indianapolis 500.

More to follow.