Long Beach

Five IndyCar things to watch for at Long Beach

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The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach marks the fourth race on the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series calendar. So far, three different drivers have found Victory Lane, including rookie Colton Herta after his incredible run at Austin, and Barber winner Takuma Sato, who finished 12th in points last year.

Watch Sunday’s race at 4:30 pm ET on NBCSN or the NBC Sports app

There is a strong likelihood that Sunday will crown a fourth new winner. With his two runner-up finishes so far this season (St Petersburg and Barber), Scott Dixon has a great opportunity to narrow Josef Newgarden’s lead. Dixon won this race in 2015 and could become only the third driver to win two Long Beach Grand Prixs since IndyCar took over the sanction.

  1. Since 2008, when the IndyCar Series began sanctioning this race, no one has ever been able to back up one Long Beach win with another. (Sebastien Bourdais scored three consecutive from 2005 through 2007 when the race was sanctioned by the Champ Car World Series.) Alexander Rossi has the potential to double down after a strong start to the season that includes two top-fives and a sweep of the top 10.
  2. Until last year, the pole was not the place to start at Long Beach; Rossi was the first driver to ever win from the pole. And while pole sitters scored four podium finishes in the 10 races previous, they also finished 15th or worse three times (Ryan Hunter-Reay – 20th in 2014, Dario Franchitti – 15th in 2012, and Justin Wilson – 19th in 2008).
  3. Josef Newgarden is the only driver so far this season to sweep the top five with his St. Petersburg victory, second-place finish at Circuit of the Americas and fourth at Barber. Keeping that mark will be a challenge because he has only one top-five at Long Beach (third in 2017) and has trended downward in three starts.
  4. The pole may not be the place to start at Long Beach, but a driver needs to at least have a glimpse of clean air. Nine of 11 races have been won from the first two rows. Qualification is critical.
  5. Are the 2019 rookies finally running out of steam? At St. Petersburg, three freshmen finished in the top 10 (Felix Rosenqvist in fourth, Colton Herta in eighth and Santino Ferruci ninth). Circuit of the Americas had two in the top 10 (Herta’s victory and Patricio O’Ward’s eighth). Last week, Marcus Ericsson’s seventh was the only rookie top 10.

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