Long Beach, Calif – I spoke to James Hinchcliffe earlier this week and asked him if he was glad 2016 was behind him so people stop asking him about his wreck at Indy in 2015. I also asked him what it would mean to him to win the prestigious Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Hinchcliffe, said he wanted people to think of him as a race car driver and his feats on the track, and his goal is to be remembered by that. He also said a win at Long Beach would be career changing too.
Today, Hinchcliffe took over the lead on Lap 63 and would never look back despite two late race cautions en route to his fifth career Verizon IndyCar Series victory.
Hinchcliffe, told me on Wednesday that a win at Long Beach would rank up there with wins at Indianapolis and Toronto for him. Now, he has a victory at one of those three tracks.
The Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports driver stayed out on the 1.968-mile track a lap longer than Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi, and that proved to be the winning move.
Prior to that final stop, Hinchcliffe was third, but with clean air, he came out of pit road first and it led him to give SPM their sixth IndyCar trip to victory lane.
Hinchcliffe, held off Sebastien Bourdais for the win as Bourdais backed up his win in the season opener at St. Pete with a runner-up on Sunday.
Josef Newgarden came home third while Scott Dixon and Simon Pagenaud rounded out the top five.
Dixon, led a race-high 32 of the 85 laps, but pitting early cost him. His team thought a caution may be brewing and didn’t want to risk keeping him out too long like they did at St. Pete. Instead, they switched from a two-stop strategy to a three and it hurt them.
Pagenaud, came home last to a top five as he is third in the standings heading to Barber trailing Bourdais and Hinchcliffe.
The Andretti Autosport drivers looked like they’d be a factor in today’s race, but all four dropped out with mechanical issues. Marco Andretti developed an issue on Lap 14 and finished 20th. Alexander Rossi who was running second at the time developed an issue himself on Lap 62 and would finish 19th.
Takuma Sato was next and would finish 18th. Hunter-Reay was running second with six laps-to-go, but he too had an issue and would finish 17th.
The series now has a week off before heading to Barber in two weeks.
Toyota Grand Prix of St. Pete Results:
- 5 Hinchcliffe
- 18 Bourdais
- 2 Newgarden
- 9 Dixon
- 1 Pagenaud
- 19 Jones R
- 14 Munoz
- 20 Pigot
- 3 Castronves
- 15 Rahal
- 21 Hildebrand OUT
- 7 Aleshin OUT
- 12 Power -1
- 8 Chilton -1
- 10 Kanaan -1
- 4 Daly -1
- 28 Hunter-Reay OUT
- 26 Sato OUT
- 98 Rossi OUT
- 27 Andretti OUT
- 83 Kimball OUT