A look at the Rahal-Letterman BMW as Joey Hand is taking over from Dirk Mueller. [Eddie LePine Photo]
A Look Back At Long Beach
by Eddie LePine
Orlando, FL (April 23, 2012) - With the 38th annual Toyota of Long Beach Grand Prix behind us, this year is one to remember as this year the IZOD IndyCar Series with the new DW12 Dallara cars and the three engine manufactures (Chevrolet, Honda and Lotus) it has really made for a very competitive season thus far. Even though Team Penske has won all three races, there is been some good side by side racing on the road and street courses something we have not seen in a while.
Chevrolet has really been the engine to have this year and going into Long Beach they found a problem with the new twin-turbo engine in a test at Sonoma. They were switching all the engines on Thursday and with the rules changes that all the drivers would receive a ten spot grid penalty. Many thought this would make for a very exciting race on Sunday putting all the fast guys in the back. Penske driver, Will Power showed you can pass at Long Beach and with the usual savvy Penske pit strategy you can win from 12th place.
The big surprise was Simon Pagenaud in the Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports powered by the single turbo Honda finishing second and perhaps, if there would have been one more lap he may have won. It was great to see a podium finish for Sam Schmidt and everything he has been through in the last seven months. It is also upbuilding to see a small team with a great finish and really terrific for Simon Pagenaud someone that really is good driver and given this chance and making the best of it. I chatted with the personable Frenchman on Friday and he was really confident and felt that in the three races the team and he are on the same page and is quite the comfortable relationship.
The other big statement made after the race was putting Graham Rahal on probation for unavoidable contact when Marco Andretti got launched and almost flipped. Beaux Barfield, IndyCar president of competition and race director. "All stewards have reviewed the incident and have decided that the on-track actions of Graham warranted probation because of driving that endangers on-track safety and adversely affects competition."
The Tequila Patron American LeMans Series was also in action in Long Beach, this is a big crowd pleaser and seeing the sports cars run through the streets of Long Beach is quite the sight. It was German, Lucas Luhr taking another victory at Long Beach for Greg Pickett's Muscle Milk Honda HPD ARX-03 with really no practice. Outstanding linebacker, Clay Matthews from the Green Bay Packers was the Grand Marshall and grew up on the west coast and he said he always wanted to race cars and he really wants to drive the Aston Martin race car.
Chatted with Joey Hand, the Rahal Letterman BMW driver is very excited for this year in which he'll be the first full time American to drive for BMW in the DTM series. He said he is ready for the new challenge and really feels that the testing has been going good and really thinks they should do well for the first season.