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

Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

Photo: IndyCar
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For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

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