Kirkwood wins in Andretti one-two at Long Beach

Kyle Kirkwood

Kyle Kirkwood

Kyle Kirkwood has achieved a career-first IndyCar victory while Romain Grosjean made for an Andretti Autosport one-two in the Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Kirkwood lost the lead on a messy restart lap which marked the beginning of the second stint of the 85-lap race but had a strategic advantage over the man who he had dropped behind, Josef Newgarden.

The #27 Honda pilot was back in top spot once the second pit stop cycle wrapped up and would remain there for the duration, while Grosjean took the chequered flag just ahead of a charging Marcus Ericsson in the battle for runner-up honours.

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It was in fact three Andretti entries in the top four thanks to Colton Herta (#26 Andretti w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda), with Alex Palou fifth in the second of the Chip Ganassi Racing Hondas and Will Power first of the Chevrolet drivers after crossing the finish line sixth in the #3 Team Penske car, from 13th on the starting grid.

Felix Rosenqvist (#6 McLaren Chevrolet) took seventh and Marcus Armstrong (#11 Ganassi Honda) eighth while Newgarden faded to ninth in the #2 Chevrolet and his Penske team-mate Scott McLaughlin (#3 Chevrolet) rounded out the top 10.

Pato O’Ward (#5 McLaren Chevrolet) finished 17th after a spin and also contact with Scott Dixon, who would be classified 27th of 27 starters.

However, Dixon’s Ganassi team-mate Ericsson is back on top of the series standings thanks to O’Ward’s lowly result.

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Kirkwood had already qualified on pole position for the first time in his IndyCar career and retained top spot when he took the green flag and drove into the first corner of the race.

Yellow flags flew almost as soon as he had done so after Helio Castroneves lost the rear of the #06 Meyer Shank Racing Honda at Turn 1 and nosed into the wall.

The Brazilian apparently managed to only break the front wing/nosecone off and the recovery crew got him going again on the lead lap, although he would cede it once he pitted for repairs.

Kirkwood led the field back to green on Lap 4 and stretched his gap to a full second up on second-placed Ericsson (#8 Honda) within three laps, as Grosjean (#28 Honda) ran third and Newgarden fourth, the latter being first of those on primary tyres.

Newgarden had qualified eighth but capitalised on a strung-out field at the race start to jump four positions, with Palou (#10 Honda) soon assuming fifth after the restart, from Dixon (#9 Honda), O’Ward, Herta, McLaughlin, and Alexander Rossi (#7 McLaren Chevrolet).

They stayed that way until Newgarden squeezed past Grosjean on Lap 19 at Turn 1, a lap before a Caution was called to retrieve Dixon from the tyre barriers at Turn 8.

The six-time champion had recently survived a brush with the wall at Turn 4 before getting bumped aside when O’Ward lunged at him for sixth position.

All except Agustin Canapino (#78 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet) pitted and the Argentine thus assumed first position, from Kirkwood on primary tyres and Newgarden on alternates, after the Penske driver’s bold exit from his pit box.

However, such was Callum Ilott’s (#77 JHR Chevrolet) rejoin from the pits, he headed the train on the Lap 26 restart from official leader Canapino and the lapped Castroneves, with effective leader Kirkwood fourth on the road.

It was a chaotic restart lap as O’Ward went under Grosjean at Turn 6 then tried to lunge Kirkwood at Turn 8, only to spin himself.

Car #5 had touched Car #27 but that was relatively minor contact for Kirkwood given he had hit Canapino just two corners earlier as the JHR driver tried to regroup after being passed by Castroneves and clipping the wall.

That first run-in had already allowed Newgarden to steal the lead but Kirkwood at least emerged from those exchanges in second position, from Grosjean on primaries, McLaughlin, Herta, Rossi, Ericsson, Power, Rosenqvist, and Armstrong.

About 15 laps into the stint, Newgarden came under pressure from Kirkwood and another black tyre-shod Andretti entry, namely Grosjean’s, while a similar situation was developing in the battle for fourth.

McLaughlin was also greens (alternates) and would be rounded up by Herta on Shoreline Drive at the start of Lap 43, before ceding fifth to Ericsson at Turn 6 and dropping out of the top 10 by the end of Lap 48.

Ericsson took fourth when he made a Turn 1 pass on Herta stick at the second attempt, just before Newgarden pitted at the end of Lap 52.

Grosjean got out ahead of Car #2 when he stopped a lap later but Kirkwood ran even longer and, despite catching traffic on his in lap, he retained the effective lead for the run home.

Once Palou pitted on Lap 55, the cycle was done, with Kirkwood leading Grosjean, Newgarden, Ericsson, Herta, Palou, Rossi, Power, Rosenqvist, Armstrong, and McLaughlin in a top 11 running solely on black tyres.

Newgarden was in fuel-save mode and Ericsson breezed by at the start of Lap 60 to take third spot, five seconds behind Grosjean and another second behind Kirkwood.

Herta likewise helped himself to fourth position three laps later, before Palou caused a small bump as he passed the #2 Penske entry on Lap 66 at Turn 9.

Meanwhile, Grosjean had bumped the wall at the Fountain complex but was still just over a second behind Kirkwood, although with the #8 Ganassi entry closing in on both.

With four laps to go, Kirkwood led by 1.0s but Grosjean had just under 1.0s in hand on Ericsson, while Rossi had overtaken Newgarden for sixth.

O’Ward, who was last on the lead lap in 18th, did not make an issue for the front-runners when they caught him on Lap 82, as Grosjean was given the go signal from the #28 timing stand after saving fuel for most of the stint.

Ericsson continued to hound the Frenchman but there would be no change in position thereafter, with Kirkwood winning by 0.9907s and Grosjean edging the 2022 Indianapolis 500 winner by another 1.0681s.

Rossi was still running sixth until he ended up in the barriers on Lap 84 and would be classified 22nd, one position behind Castroneves.

Next up is the Open Test for the Indianapolis 500 on April 20-21, then the Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on April 28-30 (all times local).

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Results: Race, Streets of Long Beach

Pos Num Driver C/E/T Race time/Split Pit stops Status Grid pos
1 27 Kyle Kirkwood D/H/F 1:43:17.3748 2 Running 1
2 28 Romain Grosjean D/H/F +0.9907 2 Running 3
3 8 Marcus Ericsson D/H/F +2.0588 2 Running 2
4 26 Colton Herta D/H/F +7.6371 2 Running 7
5 10 Alex Palou D/H/F +8.7770 2 Running 4
6 12 Will Power D/C/F +30.3224 2 Running 13
7 6 Felix Rosenqvist D/C/F +30.9744 2 Running 10
8 11 Marcus Armstrong D/H/F +31.9119 2 Running 12
9 2 Josef Newgarden D/C/F +33.7842 2 Running 8
10 3 Scott McLaughlin D/C/F +42.8320 2 Running 9
11 14 Santino Ferrucci D/C/F +45.4351 2 Running 18
12 15 Graham Rahal D/H/F +46.2809 2 Running 24
13 30 Jack Harvey D/H/F +47.2828 2 Running 15
14 45 Christian Lundgaard D/H/F +47.7781 2 Running 17
15 60 Simon Pagenaud D/H/F +49.4864 2 Running 14
16 29 Devlin DeFrancesco D/H/F +59.9343 2 Running 20
17 5 Pato O’Ward D/C/F +1 lap 2 Running 6
18 51 Sting Ray Robb D/H/F +1 lap 2 Running 21
19 77 Callum Ilott D/C/F +1 lap 4 Running 22
20 18 David Malukas D/H/F +1 lap 3 Running 25
21 06 Helio Castroneves D/H/F +1 lap 3 Running 16
22 7 Alexander Rossi D/C/F +2 laps 2 Off Course 11
23 20 Conor Daly D/C/F +2 laps 3 Running 27
24 55 Benjamin Pedersen D/C/F +3 laps 2 Running 23
25 78 Agustin Canapino D/C/F +33 laps 3 Running 26
26 21 Rinus VeeKay D/C/F +37 laps 1 Mechanical 19
27 9 Scott Dixon D/H/F +48 laps 1 Mechanical 5

Race winner: 85 laps

Series points

Pos Driver Pts
1 Marcus Ericsson 110
2 Pato O’Ward 95
3 Alex Palou 91
4 Josef Newgarden 89
5 Kyle Kirkwood 74
6 Scott Dixon 72
7 Romain Grosjean 71
8 Colton Herta 69
9 Will Power 68
10 Scott McLaughlin 68
11 David Malukas 63
12 Callum Ilott 63
13 Graham Rahal 52
14 Christian Lundgaard 49
15 Alexander Rossi 48
16 Felix Rosenqvist 44
17 Marcus Armstrong 43
18 Agustin Canapino 42
19 Jack Harvey 37
20 Helio Castroneves 36
21 Santino Ferrucci 34
22 Rinus VeeKay 33
23 Conor Daly 33
24 Simon Pagenaud 33
25 Sting Ray Robb 32
26 Benjamin Pedersen 26
27 Devlin DeFrancesco 26
28 Ed Carpenter 17
29 Takuma Sato 5

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