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

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LONG BEACH, Calif. – The marquee street race event for the Verizon IndyCar Series, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, occurs today (4 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra).

Here’s what to watch for, after you take a ride with polesitter Helio Castroneves on his record-setting qualifying lap on Saturday, courtesy of INDYCAR.

PENSKE PROWESS, AND POWER’S PROGRESSION

With three of the top five spots on the grid, Team Penske has a great chance for its second win of the season after Juan Pablo Montoya scored the win in the season-opener at St. Petersburg.

Points leader Montoya has been driving on fire to start the year, Castroneves has been his usually consistent self and Simon Pagenaud has a good record at Long Beach and looks for his first Penske win this weekend.

But the story to watch more than the three up front will be Will Power, and what he’ll do for his charge through the field. He got caught out in qualifying and will start 18th. It might need to be a strategic masterstroke from Penske president Tim Cindric; it paid dividends here three years ago when Power won after starting 12th.

ANOTHER SURPRISE WINNER?

Mike Conway (2011 and 2014) and Takuma Sato (2013) have been surprise winners on the streets of Long Beach in the last few years.

So who could qualify as a potential surprise today?

Josef Newgarden starts sixth and would be a popular first-time winner; Graham Rahal traditionally runs well at Long Beach and has opened the year strong and will srarr eighth; Sebastian Saavedra has thus far exceeded expectations in his debut with Chip Ganassi Racing and starts 11th; Luca Filippi takes over Conway’s car and will look to win from 14th.

MORE YELLOWS TO COME?

IndyCar chief flagman Paul Blevin is not a name you might know very well, but you certainly have seen him fully in action to kick off the 2015 season.

Through the first two races this year, there have been 11 cautions for 48 laps. In the first two races last year, there were only six for 28 laps.

INDYCAR (sanctioning body) issued an update on aero kits earlier this weekend where the Chevrolet teams would need to remove the “rabbit ears” and Honda teams need to reinforce the rear wheel guards; both parts were an issue at St. Petersburg.

The hope is that the update reduces debris parts flying and the number of yellows. But it still comes down to the drivers.

DALY, SAAVEDRA SEASON DEBUTS

Conor Daly got an ultimate last-minute call-up with Dale Coyne Racing to replace Rocky Moran Jr., who was already replacing Carlos Huertas. Meanwhile Saavedra will make his debut with Chip Ganassi Racing, in place of Sage Karam.

Daly told me on Saturday he was “in at the deep end” – this is his first time in the Honda aero kit version of the car after testing the prior Dallara DW12 chassis with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports earlier this year. But it’s still a great opportunity for him, and a popular one too as he makes his IndyCar street course debut.

Saavedra, in the AFS-backed No. 8 Chevrolet, will look for his second straight Long Beach top-10 finish from 11th on the grid. He finished ninth in this race last year, but hasn’t ended in the top-10 since.

Andretti United team names drivers for inaugural Extreme E season

Extreme E drivers Andretti
Extreme E
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The Extreme E team formed by Andretti Autosport and United Autosports named Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen as its drivers Monday for the series’ inaugural 2021 season.

Munnings is a successful veteran of rally series. Hansen is a past winner and champion in the World Rallycross Championship.

They both will race in the environmentally conscious electric SUV series that will hold events in five areas around the world that are threatened by climate change. Chip Ganassi Racing and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton also are fielding cars in Extreme E, which will feature male and female co-drivers on every team.

Catie Munnings

“I’m so excited to join Andretti United Extreme E,” Munnings said in a release. ““I was really intrigued when I first heard about Extreme E, I just knew I had to be involved. The male / female racing partnership is a fantastic and exciting new concept. The season has incredible locations and the racing will be very exciting. It will be a new challenge for the teams and drivers, and I’m so thrilled to be working with such a strong team.

“The championship is a really innovative concept, it’s combining motorsport and science and will produce an important legacy in each race location. Bringing the platform that motorsport has in line with the awareness that the planet needs right now is awesome and a really important message.”

Timmy Hansen

Said Hansen: “Going into the Extreme E will be a new chapter in my career, one that I am extremely excited about. It is something brand new, not only for me, but the whole of motorsport. The format is something

we’ve never seen before. I’m also delighted to be able to carry the message of something bigger – talking about the environment and doing something good for the world – that’s something that really drives me. It’s going to be a big adventure in life to see these locations and I’m going to do my best in carrying this responsibility and hopefully making people aware of the challenges we have in the world, together with our passion for racing.”