What to watch for: IndyCar at Long Beach (4 p.m. ET, NBCSN/Live Extra)

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STANDING STARTS RETURN

As mentioned over the off-season, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach had been interested in a standing start when they were introduced to the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2013. A year later, they’ll have one – hopefully.

Standing starts were hit or miss last year, with successful ones coming at Toronto Race 2 and Houston Race 1. If it goes off properly today, it’ll be a Oklahoma land rush down into Turn 1, one of the prime passing zones on this 1.9-mile Long Beach circuit.

And it’ll likely be awesome, like Will Power’s rocket start from fourth to first in the 2008 Champ Car finale (skip to 5:40 for the fireworks).

HAIR(PIN)-RAISING EXPERIENCE

Turns 1, 6, and 9 are good places to gain positions, but the right-hand hairpin at Turn 11 remains Long Beach’s signature corner.

Bottlenecks with cars going askew across the entire track are not uncommon here, and as it leads to the long, curving front-stretch on Shoreline Drive, it’s oh-so-important to get this corner right. Poor acceleration out of it leaves you open to a drafting attack if a pursuer is anywhere near your rear wing.

UPSET ALERT: JOSEF NEWGARDEN

We’ve seen the third-year driver for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing shine before on street circuits (remember his late-race fight with Takuma Sato in Sao Paulo last year?). And it appears Newgarden could do it again today. Steady throughout practice save for a Practice 1 run-in with the tire barriers, he made the Firestone Fast Six in yesterday’s qualifying and will start fourth today.

He’s become a fan favorite with his social media savvy and easy-going personality, but is today the day he becomes a Verizon IndyCar Series race winner?

MAKING HISTORY

Today marks the 40th anniversary running of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which began as a Formula 5000 race in 1975. Then came Formula One from 1976-1983, CART/Champ Car from 1984 to 2008, and the current Verizon IndyCar Series from 2009 to the present.

Through it all, a galaxy of motorsports stars have been able to win at the Beach. It is the most important race of its kind in North America, and whoever wins this 40th anniversary event is going to make a special kind of history.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III