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IndyCar teams affected by governor’s ‘Stay at Home’ order through April 7

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Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb has issued a “Stay at Home” order for the entire state beginning Wednesday, March 25 through April 7. That will effectively shut down IndyCar Series teams from working at the shop for an extra week as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be addressed.

“The next two weeks are critical if we are to slow the spread of COVID-19, and we must slow the spread. You must be part of the solution, not the problem,” Gov. Holcomb said during a live address Monday afternoon televised throughout the state.

Holcomb has ordered that all residents of Indiana remain in their homes except when working for essential businesses or for ‘permitted activities, such as taking care of others, obtaining necessary supplies, and for health and safety.’

“Essential businesses and services include but are not limited to grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, police stations, fire stations, hospitals, doctor’s offices, health care facilities, garbage pickup, public transit, and public service hotlines such as SNAP and HIP 2.0,” according to the Governor’s executive order.

This decision is important to IndyCar Series teams and vendors as they currently do not fall under the “essential business” category. The majority of teams in the NTT IndyCar Series are based in the Indianapolis area and will be impacted by this order. Team Penske is in Mooresville, North Carolina, and Dale Coyne Racing is in Plainfield, Illinois.

Teams in IndyCar already had shut down after returning from the canceled St. Petersburg street race last week. Several, including Chip Ganassi Racing, A.J. Foyt Racing and Dale Coyne Racing, had announced they would re-open on March 30 prior to Governor Holcomb’s announcement.

The Indiana Governor’s executive orders mean those operations will remain closed for at least another week. Teams have told NBCSports.com that some of the engineering and simulation work is being done while staff works from home.

IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are moving forward with the intention of running the 104th Indianapolis 500 on May 24, provided the COVID-19 pandemic is under control by then.

NBCSports.com will update this developing story.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

April 9 in Motorsports History: Al Unser Jr. gets sixth Long Beach win

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The list of winners in the Grand Prix of Long Beach is a ‘who’s who’ of open-wheel racing.

Mario Andretti won at the famed street course four times. His son Michael won there twice.

Paul Tracy is also a four-time winner at the beach. Alex Zanardi, Juan Pablo Montoya, Sebastien Bourdais, and Alexander Rossi also have won at the famed course multiple times.

But there is only one “King of the Beach”: Al Unser Jr.

The winningest driver in the race’s history, Unser won at Long Beach four consecutive times from 1988-91. He won again in 1994 and entered the 1995 edition as the race’s defending champion and the defending CART champion as well.

Starting fourth, Unser made slight contact with Gil de Ferran when he passed the Brazilian on Lap 3. He then continued to move up to the front, taking the race lead from Teo Fabi on Lap 30.

Once he had the lead, Unser ran away from the field, winning by more than 23 seconds over Scott Pruett.

Unser’s victory was such a familiar scene that after the race, CART news manager John Procida began the winner’s news conference with the following statement: “Well, we have a very familiar face on the top rung of the podium. As we listed on the prerace press release, this seems to be the Al Unser Invitational.”

Indeed it was. Unser’s victory was his sixth at Long Beach, and the 28th of his career. overall. While it would be his last win there, Unser continued to race at Long Beach through 1998 before missing 1999 with a broken leg and moving to the Indy Racing Leauge in 2000.

In 2009, Unser was inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame, which honors significant contributors to the race and California motorsports community.

“It truly is just an honor to be mentioned with the names and the legends that have already been put into the sidewalk,” Unser said during the induction ceremony. “To have Brian (Redman, the inaugural winner of the race) and Parnelli (Jones) is really an honor and just to be in their company is very, very special.”

Also on this date:

1971: Jacques Villeneuve was born in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Canada. The second-generation driver was one of the best in open-wheel racing during the 1990s, winning the Indianapolis 500 and CART championship in ’95 and becoming a Formula One champion two years later.

1989: Rick Mears dominated CART’s Checker Autoworks 200 at Phoenix International Raceway, leading every lap from the pole and lapping the field.

2011: Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas won the Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park, their sixth consecutive victory in Grand Am competition. Their lengthy win streak, which started on Aug. 7, 2010 at Watkins Glen, prompted Grand Am to offer a $25,000 bounty for any Daytona Prototype team that could beat the dominant duo. The Action Express trio of Joao Barbosa, J.C. France, and Terry Borcheller finally unseated Pruett and Rojas in the series’ next round at Virginia International Raceway.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994