Long Beach

Long Beach, CA (April 19, 2009) – The Grand Prix of Long Beach was definitely back this year. With the IndyCar Series racing here for the first time and a reunified series helped bring back the buzz this event had been missing. For some of the drivers, they were coming back to SoCal where they raced in the Champ Car World Series. For these drivers this race is the one they wanted to win. Why? This race has so much history, going back to Mario Andretti, Niki Lauda and Nelson Piquet when it was an F-1 event to the heyday of Long Beach with drivers like Nigel Mansell, the Andrettis, Unsers and Fittipaldi were worshipped by the enthusiastic crowd. It is the greatest road race EVENT in North America!

The weather and atmosphere was really good, as it has always been with other series. The attendance was very good and since the ALMS joined in this weekend, the sports car crowd helped make it a great weekend of racing.

The talk about the possibility of Team Penske driver, Helio Castroneves racing this weekend started to escalate Thursday afternoon, when all the racers were in Long Beach and on standby to see if there was a verdict at his tax evasion trial.

The Penske crew who was here last year running in the ALMS with the Porsche Spyder were delighted to be back at Long Beach and they were very concerned to see if Helio was going to make it, the clock was ticking away. Also, John Erickson and some of the Porsche Grand-Am crew were also in Long Beach. Who would have thought that the verdict would come in just when Paul Tracy was making his announcement of his plans to race at Indy with KV Racing. Tracy made sure to tell the audience that he still thinks he won the “500” in 2002.

So, Helio is acquitted, for now?but will he face another trial on the conspiracy charges that resulted in a hung jury?

After the news of Helio’s verdict, the Penske crew snatched the No. 3 car from Will Power and Power moved to the third Penske car, No.12, sponsored by Verizon Wireless. Will Power took the new car out and put it on the pole–amazing, since he’d never drove it until Saturday morning. Obviously the crew put the correct set-up on the car.

Dario Franchitti won the race and he is shown in the first two races why he should be in and Indy car, but our hat’s off to the talented Aussie, Will Power, who finished second. As of now, Power is only driving for the Indy 500 and it was impressive to see him jump in the car and finish strong.

Andretti Green Racing had a start finish to their weekend. After a dismal qualifying effort the race was another story. The last time Marco Andretti, Tony Kanaan and Danica Patrick all finished in the top 10 was Chicagoland Speedway in the 2008 finale. Before then, it was Richmond in June. Also, it was Kanaan’s 11th consecutive top-10 finish, the longest active streak in the IndyCar Series. It also was his 68th career top-five finish, the most all time.

ALMS made a big announcement about Jaguar joining the GT2 series with the team run by Paul Gentilozzi, Rocketsports Racing. Jaguar will participate in ALMS racing later this year, including an “innovative look” for the team’s new program and racecar.

The Long Beach race was the last one for Corvette in the GT1 class. Corvette has tested their new car that will be competing in the GT2 class at Road Atlanta. The test went extremely well and Dan Binks and driver, Johnny O’Connell, were very pleased in the initial test.

Next week the some of the same drivers will race at VIR for the second Grand AM race and they will have there work cut out for them because Grand AM made a competition adjustment to the Porsche cars, the result of Brumo’s win at Daytona.

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