Hinchcliffe wins chaotic, caution-filled inaugural IndyCar GP of Louisiana (VIDEO)

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AVONDALE, La. – James Hinchcliffe emerged victorious from the chaotic, caution-filled and time-shortened Verizon IndyCar Series’ inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana, Round 2 of the season.

Unofficially, there were only 31 minutes of green flag time in 105 minutes (one hour, 45 minutes) of racing.

The race ended under its sixth full-course caution, with Hinchcliffe finishing ahead of Helio Castroneves, James Jakes, Simona de Silvestro and pole sitter Juan Pablo Montoya.  This is Hinchcliffe’s fourth-career win and first since Iowa in 2013.

Hinchcliffe played an off-sequence strategy to perfection in the No. 5 Arrow/Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Honda after starting 16th, having pitted on Lap 13.

Montoya led most of the opening stint, but wasn’t the dominant story.

On off-sequence strategies, the order changed when Hinchcliffe led Carlos Huertas, Castroneves, Jakes, Tony Kanaan and de Silvestro as of Lap 35 in the originally scheduled 75-lap race.

But time was an issue and the storyline throughout the race. The race was set for 75 laps, or 105 minutes (one hour, 45 minutes), whichever comes first. The halfway mark was to come at Lap 38, and the 53-minute mark.

After the opening 15 laps, full-course cautions became the constant from Lap 16.

The first yellow flew when Gabby Chaves spun in Turn 4, got stuck, and then got pushed back onto course by an apparent corner worker in a white shirt. Chaves, in the No. 98 Bowers & Wilkins/Curb Honda, promptly stopped on course shortly thereafter, and it spawned several memes on Twitter (see first and second examples of such, linked here).

Shortly after the first restart there was more carnage when Jack Hawksworth crashed in Turn 13 trying to avoid a spinning Jakes. Contact also occurred between Castroneves and Francesco Dracone.

“I was right behind him, he was really struggling. He spun on the last corner and I had nowhere to go,” Hawksworth told NBCSN’s Robin Miller. “What can you do? There’s nothing to say about that, other than wrong place, wrong time.”

Things got worse during the caution when Dracone spun in the pits and contacted his own crewmember. Todd Phillips, crew chief/outside front tire changer for his Dale Coyne Racing car, was being treated in care center for a cut to lower right leg.

The next restart occurred on Lap 28, but another yellow flew almost immediately when Stefano Coletti had a massive spin and shunt on the front straight. Coletti smacked into an armco barrier just past an opening but somehow, despite ruining the rear wing assembly, managed to keep going.

The yellows continued with Sage Karam causing two in a row, the first on Lap 32 being stuck in the gravel at Turn 5, and the second on Lap 41 when he stopped on course at Turn 13.

In-between the two incidents, a restart got delayed again when Huertas spun exiting Turn 13 while running second.

The final caution occurred following a multiple car accident on Lap 43, following another restart, when Ryan Hunter-Reay squeezed Simon Pagenaud off track entering Turn 4. Pagenaud then careened across the road, back into Hunter-Reay and Sebastien Bourdais. Each had varying opinions of the accident.

The last of these incidents is under review and subject to a post-race penalty.

Still, it ensured the race ended under yellow, which was perhaps a fitting end to the afternoon.

RESULTS

AVONDALE, La.- Results Sunday of the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana Verizon IndyCar Series event at the 2.74 mile NOLA Motorsports Park, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (16) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 47, Running
2. (4) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 47, Running
3. (22) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 47, Running
4. (18) Simona de Silvestro, Dallara-Honda, 47, Running
5. (1) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dallara-Chevy, 47, Running
6. (3) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 47, Running
7. (2) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 47, Running
8. (11) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 47, Running
9. (12) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Chevy, 47, Running
10. (9) Luca Filippi, Dallara-Chevy, 47, Running
11. (15) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Chevy, 47, Running
12. (14) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Honda, 47, Running
13. (10) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 47, Running
14. (21) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevy, 47, Running
15. (17) Gabby Chaves, Dallara-Honda, 46, Running
16. (24) Carlos Huertas, Dallara-Honda, 46, Running
17. (20) Stefano Coletti, Dallara-Chevy, 44, Running
18. (19) Sage Karam, Dallara-Chevy, 44, Running
19. (7) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 43, Contact
20. (5) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Chevy, 43, Contact
21. (6) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 43, Contact
22. (13) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 39, Contact
23. (23) Francesco Dracone, Dallara-Honda, 23, Contact
24. (8) Jack Hawksworth, Dallara-Honda, 19, Contact

Race Statistics
Winners average speed: 71.995
Time of Race: 01:47:19.4896
Margin of victory: Under caution
Cautions: 6 for 25 laps
Lead changes: 3 among 3 drivers
Lap Leaders:
Montoya 1-13
Castroneves 14
Montoya 15-32
Hinchcliffe 33-47
Point Standings:  Montoya 84, Castroneves 74, Power 70, Hinchcliffe 65, Kanaan 63, de Silvestro 44, Jakes 43, Rahal 43, Filippi 42, Pagenaud 41.

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