Image and photo courtesy IndyCar

INDYCAR: 44th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Fast Facts

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Here’s all you need to know about this weekend’s 44th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach:

Fast Facts courtesy INDYCAR Public/Media Relations

Race weekend: Friday, April 13 – Sunday, April 15

Track: 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street course (clockwise) in Long Beach, California

Race distance: 85 laps / 167.28 miles

Entry List:  Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (PDF)

Push-to-pass parameters: 200 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 20 seconds per activation.

Firestone tire allotment: Seven sets primary, four sets alternate. Rookie drivers are allowed one extra set for Practice 1.

Twitter: @ToyotaGPLB @IndyCar, #TGPLB, #IndyCar

Event website: www.gplb.com

INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com

James Hinchcliffe takes the checkered flag in the 2017 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Photo: IndyCar

2017 race winner: James Hinchcliffe (No. 5 Arrow Electronics Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda)

2017 Verizon P1 Award winner: Helio Castroneves (No. 3 Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet), 1:06.2254, 106.980 mph

Qualifying lap record: Helio Castroneves, 1:06.2254, 106.980 mph, April 8, 2017

NBCSN race broadcast: Sunday, April 15 (4 p.m. ET)

NBCSN qualifying broadcast: Saturday, April 14 (6:30 p.m. ET, live)

Leigh Diffey will be the play-by-play announcer for NBCSN’s broadcast of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Marty Snider, Kevin Lee, Katie Hargitt and Robin Miller are the pit reporters.

Radio broadcasts: The Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network is led by chief announcer Mark Jaynes with analyst Anders Krohn. Turn reporters are Jake Query and Nick Yeoman, with Rob Howden and Michael Young reporting from the pits. All Verizon IndyCar Series races are broadcast live on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 214, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app.

Video Streaming: All practice sessions not televised by NBCSN will be available RaceControl.IndyCar.com and on the INDYCAR YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/indycar)

At-track schedule (all times local):

Friday, April 13

10-10:45 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #1, streaming on RaceControl.IndyCar.com

2-2:45 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #2, streaming on RaceControl.IndyCar.com

Saturday, April 14

10:45-11:30 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #3, streaming on RaceControl.IndyCar.com

3:30 p.m. – Qualifying for the Verizon P1 Award (three rounds of Verizon IndyCar Series qualifications); NBCSN (live)

Sunday, April 15

9-9:30 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series warm-up, streaming on RaceControl.IndyCar.com

1 p.m. – NBCSN on air

1:35 p.m. – “Drivers, start your engines” command

1:42 p.m. – Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (85 laps/167.28 miles), NBCSN (live)

Race Notes:

  • Josef Newgarden of Team Penske continues defense of his 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series championship and leads the championship entering this weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Newgarden, who won at ISM Raceway on April 7, aims to be Team Penske’s first repeat champion since Gil de Ferran collected back-to-back CART championships in 2000 and 2001.
  • Sebastien Bourdais claimed the season-opening race of the Verizon IndyCar Series for the second year in a row as he won the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 11. Bourdais is seeking a fourth win at Long Beach as he pursues a fifth Indy car championship.
  • Alexander Rossi is the only driver to finish on the podium in each of the first two races. The Andretti Autosport driver – one of three native Californians in the field – finished third at St. Petersburg and Long Beach to start the season and trails Josef Newgarden by five points entering the season.
  • This weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will mark the 35th Indy car event on the historic street circuit. Mario Andretti won the first Indy car race there in 1984. James Hinchcliffe was the 2017 race winner. Sebastien Bourdais (2005-2007) was the last repeat winner at Long Beach.
  • Al Unser Jr. has won the most times at Long Beach (six), while Sebastien Bourdais and Will Power are the only entered drivers with multiple wins. Bourdais won three straight races from 2005-2007. Power won in 2008 and 2012. Other former race winners scheduled to compete are Ryan Hunter-Reay (2010), Takuma Sato (2013), Scott Dixon (2015), Simon Pagenaud (2016) and James Hinchcliffe (2017).
  • Team Penske has won seven of the last nine poles at Long Beach: Helio Castroneves, who set the lap record in 2017, has won four poles (2001, 2015, 2016 and 2017), Will Power won three straight from 2009-2011 and Ryan Briscoe won in 2012. In addition to Power, other past pole winners entered in this year’s race are Tony Kanaan (1999), Sebastien Bourdais (2006-2007) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (2014).
  • Four drivers have won the race from the pole – Mario Andretti (1984, 1985 and 1987), Al Unser Jr. (1989-90), Helio Castroneves (2001) and Sebastien Bourdais (2006-07).
  • Seventeen of the 24 drivers entered in the event have competed in Indy car races at Long Beach. Eleven entered drivers have led laps: Sebastien Bourdais 169, Will Power 162, Ryan Hunter-Reay 150, Scott Dixon 103, Takuma Sato 66, Marco Andretti 64, Simon Pagenaud 54, Tony Kanaan 51, James Hinchcliffe 25, Charlie Kimball 3 and Josef Newgarden 1.
  • Tony Kanaan seeks to start his 285th consecutive race this weekend, which would extend his Indy car record streak that began in June 2001 at Portland. Kanaan will attempt to make his 346th Indy car start, which ranks third on the all-time list.
  • Scott Dixon has made 226 consecutive starts heading into the weekend, which is the second-longest streak in Indy car racing. Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti has made 201 consecutive starts, which is the fourth-longest streak in Indy car racing.
  • Scott Dixon, the longest-tenured driver for Chip Ganassi Racing, is fourth on the all-time Indy car victory list with 41 wins. Petersburg race winner Sebastien Bourdais is sixth on the all-time list with 37 wins and Will Power ranks ninth on the all-time list with 32 wins.
  • Seven Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders – Zachary Claman De Melo, Jack Harvey, Kyle Kaiser, Jordan King, Matheus “Matt” Leist, Zach Veach and Robert Wickens – are entered. It is the most rookies entered at Long Beach since the final Champ Car race in 2008.

NHRA shocker in Houston: John Force fails to qualify for first time since 2008, snaps 221-race streak

Photo and videos courtesy NHRA
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Sunday’s eliminations in the 31st annual NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway in suburban Houston  just won’t be the same without John Force.

In one of the most stunning turn of events seen in the last decade-plus in NHRA drag racing, the legendary 16-time Funny Car champion and the sport’s all-time winningest driver on Saturday failed to qualify for Sunday’s main event of the race weekend.

It marks the first time Force, who turns 69 on May 4, failed to qualify for a race since Sept. 13, 2008 in Charlotte race, snapping a string of having made the eliminations in each of the subsequent 221 races until failing to do so Saturday.

“That is hard for me,” Force said after failing to go any faster than 222.29 mph in the four qualifying rounds for the race, two on Friday and the other two on Saturday. “You earn what you get. We didn’t put it in the show. We couldn’t get to half-track.

“We have had a lot of problems all year. At least I got my final shot to get in and I didn’t make it. I will be here tomorrow rooting on Robert, Courtney and Brittany (teammates Robert Hight and daughters Courtney and Brittany Force). I’ll be signing autographs for all the fans. I am sorry to all of you fans that I didn’t make it.”

Saturday’s failure to qualify marked only the 22nd time he’s DNQ’d in his 40-year professional drag racing career. He set a drag racing record by qualifying for 395 consecutive events from 1988 until April 2007.

“I am bummed that the boss didn’t get in. That was quite a streak he had going,” Hight said of hoss and father-in-law. “There is nobody better at rallying a team and leading a comeback than John Force.

“He loves the fight and he will do whatever it takes to get his team back on top. It really isn’t something to worry about because two of our Chevys are No.1 and No. 2 right now.

“We have good combinations and we just have to duplicate one of those set ups for John’s PEAK Funny car. He’ll be back next week in Charlotte.”

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As for the other classes (information courtesy NHRA Media Relations):Leah Pritchett set a new Top Fuel track record during the final qualifying session on Saturday to secure the top spot in Top Fuel heading into Sunday.Hight (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) are also No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the fifth of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Defending event champion Pritchett raced her Mopar Dodge dragster to a pass of 3.680-seconds at 326.00 mph. This is her first No. 1 qualifier of the season and eighth of her career.

“We’ve been developing our confidence the last couple of races,” Pritchett stated. “To be able to put it on the track is phenomenal. We know we need to be exceptional because our competition is exceptional.”

Pritchett will line up against Terry Brian in round one of eliminations on Sunday. Defending world champion Brittany Force locked-in the No. 2 spot after a 3.701 at 313.80 in her Monster Energy dragster. Tony Schumacher is seeded third and will face William Litton.

Hight’s final qualifying pass of 3.894 at 317.27 in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro took him to the top of the Funny Car category. This is his first No. 1 qualifier of the season, second at Houston and 58th of his career.

“This is going to be a new ball game tomorrow,” Hight said. “With fresh asphalt and the sun being out; these cars are going to spin. It’s definitely going to be fun. Two of our Chevy’s are one and two (in Funny Car) which shows we have good combinations.”

Hight will face-off against Todd Simpson Sunday morning in the first round. Teammate Courtney Force sits in the No. 2 position with a pass of 3.911 at 295.14 in her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro and two-time world champion Matt Hagan rounds out the top three.

Anderson, four-time Pro Stock world champion, remained atop the field Saturday with his pass of 6.492 at 213.00 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro from the first qualifying session on Friday. He notched his third consecutive No. 1 qualifier of the season and is seeking his first victory of the year.

“I haven’t had great Sunday’s yet,” Anderson stated. “I know I’m going to break through one of these days though. The weather is going to be great again tomorrow. I feel good about it, I’m excited and so far it’s just been a great weekend.”

Anderson will race Steve Graham in the first round of eliminations. Jeg Coughlin Jr. qualified in the No. 2 position with a pass of 6.504 at 212.36 in his JEGS.com/Elite Performance Chevrolet Camaro and Tanner Gray is third.

Eliminations at the NHRA SpringNationals begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday at Royal Purple Raceway.

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SUNDAY’S FIRST-ROUND PAIRINGS FOR ELIMINATIONS:

TOP FUEL: 1. Leah Pritchett, 3.680 seconds, 326.00 mph vs. 16. Terry Brian, 4.275, 284.62; 2. Brittany Force, 3.701, 320.20 vs. 15. Terry Haddock, 4.081, 287.17; 3. Tony Schumacher, 3.703, 322.73 vs. 14. Bill Litton, 3.927, 306.60; 4. Billy Torrence, 3.737, 317.87 vs. 13. Kebin Kinsley, 3.819, 313.51; 5. Antron Brown, 3.740, 324.98 vs. 12. Terry McMillen, 3.783, 314.31; 6. Clay Millican, 3.746, 315.78 vs. 11. Mike Salinas, 3.766, 313.73; 7. Doug Kalitta, 3.748, 320.05 vs. 10. Richie Crampton, 3.766, 316.23; 8. Scott Palmer, 3.754, 318.17 vs. 9. Steve Torrence, 3.759, 313.88. Did Not Qualify: 17. Terry Totten, 4.636, 216.34.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.894, 317.27 vs. 16. Todd Simpson, Dodge Charger, 4.318, 288.33; 2. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.911, 313.58 vs. 15. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Camry, 4.151, 283.49; 3. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.913, 311.85 vs. 14. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.077, 305.77; 4. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.918, 317.42 vs. 13. Richard Townsend, Camry, 4.026, 308.99; 5. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.918, 301.94 vs. 12. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.017, 307.51; 6. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.925, 311.41 vs. 11. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 3.994, 311.34; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.926, 313.00 vs. 10. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.989, 313.37; 8. Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 3.927, 316.52 vs. 9. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.938, 314.09. Did Not Qualify: 17. Jim Campbell, 4.341, 273.05; 18. John Force, 4.625, 222.29.

PRO STOCK: 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.492, 213.00 vs. 16. Steve Graham, Camaro, 6.775, 205.60; 2. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.504, 212.36 vs. 15. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.621, 208.65; 3. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.507, 211.99 vs. 14. John Gaydosh Jr, Chevrolet Camaro, 6.592, 210.93; 4. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.513, 212.29 vs. 13. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.548, 210.67; 5. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.518, 211.99 vs. 12. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.545, 210.50; 6. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.525, 212.79 vs. 11. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.532, 212.73; 7. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.527, 212.29 vs. 10. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.532, 211.79; 8. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.528, 211.93 vs. 9. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.530, 211.33.