Pirelli World Challenge at Long Beach results (SPOILER)

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Writer’s Note: The following is a recap of today’s second race of the 2014 Pirelli World Challenge season from the streets of Long Beach, California. NBCSN will broadcast the race on Sunday, April 20 at 5:30 p.m. ET. If you don’t want to know who won until then, we suggest you find another post to read here on MotorSportsTalk…

GT pole sitter Johnny O’Connell led all 32 laps in his No. 3 Cadillac Racing CTS-V.R to take the win in the second round of the 2014 Pirelli World Challenge championship on the streets of Long Beach, California.

O’Connell’s win was an effective recovery from a 10th-place showing in the season opening round two weeks ago at St. Petersburg, Florida. His Cadillac Racing teammate, Andy Pilgrim, finished second for the Caddies’ first 1-2 result since Round 10 of the 2013 season at Toronto.

“Honestly, it’s going to be a long season climbing back from what happened at St. Pete,” O’Connell said. “We came away with barely any points there. We have to score points, and we got maximum points.”

Anthony Lazzaro brought the R.Ferri team its first PWC podium with a third-place showing in the No. 61 Ferrari 458 Italia. GMG Racing Audi teammates Andrew Palmer and James Sofronas completed the Top 5.

Inside the GT-A subcategory for gentlemen drivers, Michael Mills took advantage of late trouble for Nick Mancuso to pick up the win in his No. 41 EFFORT Racing Porsche GT3 R. Overall, he finished in the 10th position.

As for the GTS category, the Kia Racing tandem of Nic Jonsson and Mark Wilkins finished first and third on the podium, with Capaldi Racing Ford driver Tony Buffomante in second.

Jonsson jumped class polesitter Jack Roush Jr. for the lead on the second lap of the race and never looked back. Long Beach marks the second PWC victory of Jonsson’s career, but his first in almost a decade; he won in the Touring Car class at Sonoma Raceway in 2004.

Roush Jr. faded to fourth at the finish, with fellow Ford racer Alec Udell placing fifth. As for your GTS winner from two weeks ago, Lawson Aschenbach, he finished 18th after a mechanical failure knocked his No. 1 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevy out at Lap 2.

Barber Motorsports Park will host the next event for the PWC on April 25-27, and it will be an “all skate” as the three Touring Car-based categories join the GT/GT-A/GTS contingent.

PIRELLI WORLD CHALLENGE: Grand Prix of Long Beach – Race Results

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Remaining part-time drivers

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MotorSportsTalk wraps up its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017 with the remaining part-time drivers, after the 23 drivers who ran anywhere from six events to the full season.

There were 15 drivers who made four or fewer starts this season. Some overly impressed or drew major headlines in their limited opportunities.

They were, by start count:

  • Sebastian Saavedra (No. 17 Juncos Racing Chevrolet, No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, 4)
  • Gabby Chaves (No. 88 Harding Racing Chevrolet, 3)
  • Oriol Servia (No. 16 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda, 3)
  • Jack Harvey (No. 50 MSR w/Andretti Autosport Honda, No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, 3)
  • Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet, 2)
  • Zach Veach (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, No. 40 A.J. Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet, 2)
  • Fernando Alonso (No. 29 McLaren Honda Andretti Honda, 1)
  • Pippa Mann (No. 63 Dale Coyne Racing Honda, 1)
  • Jay Howard (No. 77 Team One Cure/SPM Honda, 1)
  • Sage Karam (No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet, 1)
  • James Davison (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda, 1)
  • Tristan Vautier (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda, 1)
  • Buddy Lazier (No. 44 Lazier Racing Partners Chevrolet, 1)
  • Zachary Claman DeMelo (No. 13 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda, 1)
  • Robert Wickens (No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, Practice Only)

Going through them, in terms of impact, Alonso’s one-off at the Indianapolis 500 easily resonated loudest. It was incredible to witness the amount of buzz, worldwide support and media attention that Alonso generated, and fueled a running joke that he was the only driver in this year’s race. It was capped off when he beat Ed Jones to race rookie-of-the-year honors, despite losing a Honda engine late while Jones dragged a broken Dale Coyne Racing car to third place.

Elsewhere, Chaves and Harding Racing’s debut was the most unexpected pleasant surprise from a driver and team standpoint. A solid ninth at Indianapolis was followed by an even more impressive fifth at Texas. Their three oval races laid the groundwork for a step-up to a full-time entry in 2018.

Montoya proved he still had it with a pair of top-10s in a fifth Team Penske car. He’ll be in Penske’s Acura prototype sports car program next year and the hope is that we haven’t seen the last of him in IndyCar.

Saavedra re-established himself on the scene after a year-plus hiatus. The likable Colombian overachieved given low expectations with two different teams. Whether it was enough to see him and longtime backer AFS Racing for further races in 2018 is unknown.

Harvey and Veach each came up to IndyCar for a cup of coffee, both rookies in the Indianapolis 500 alongside Alonso and Jones while also getting additional road course starts. Neither of them looked a world-beater in their road course outings owing to tough circumstances, but they logged key laps and miles to build for a brighter future from 2018 and beyond in recently announced multi-year programs (Harvey with Michael Shank Racing and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, and Veach with Andretti Autosport).

Of the rest, Servia’s results left a bit to be desired, a potential top-five fading in Indy when he and Davison collided to trigger a multi-car pileup. Davison and Vautier impressed in their lone starts of the year with their pace and aggression but were unable to parlay them into results.

Mann made her usual Indy 500 one-off entry and secured her best finish in six starts, but pressed through a challenging month that she’ll be keen to improve upon in 2018. Her day was significantly better than Howard’s and Lazier’s, who both ended their ‘500 bows in the wall, and with Howard having contributed to Scott Dixon’s savage accident when he crashed in Turn 1 and then came into Dixon’s path.

“ZCD” made his debut at Sonoma in a second RLL Racing entry and did rather well, competitive on lap times as the weekend progressed on a track that’s notoriously low-grip. Wickens never got that far. Despite a preseason ride swap with his close friend James Hinchcliffe that reignited his passion for open-wheel after several years, and with Mercedes announcing it would pull the plug on its DTM program after 2018, Wickens got only a practice day at Road America before Mikhail Aleshin sorted his visa issues. The circumstances evolved in Wickens’ favor at season’s end to see him get the second seat for 2018 at SPM after all.