By Dylan Reynolds, The Open Wheel
The INDYCAR season continues this weekend with the NTT INDYCAR SERIES 2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on the Streets of Long Beach, California. The Open Wheel will be covering the action all weekend so stay tuned to this site and our Twitter page @openwh33l for all of the latest news.
Photo by Riley Bridges/The Open Wheel
NTT INDYCAR SERIES Preview: Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach – Sunday, September 26, 2021 3:00PM (ET) NBCSN – The 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES concludes this weekend with the championship finale at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. The championship three are leader Alex Palou, Pato O’Ward (-35), and Josef Newgarden (-48). There are a whopping 28 entries this weekend with the same car and driver combinations from the last two weeks in Portland and Monterey with the addition of Charlie Kimball in the AJ Foyt Racing No. 11.
Previous driver experience (Part 1 & Part 2) at Long Beach shows nine former winners in the field in Sebastien Bourdais (3), Will Power (2), Alexander Rossi (2), Helio Castroneves (1), Scott Dixon (1), James Hinchcliffe (1), Ryan Hunter-Reay (1), Simon Pagenaud (1), and Takuma Sato (1). Rossi has won from pole in the last two NTT INDYCAR SERIES races at the circuit. Looking at the box scores from 2019 & 2018, Rossi and Graham Rahal are the only two drivers to finish in the Top 5 of the last two Long Beach races. If that’s expanded to the Top 10, those two are joined by Newgarden, Power, and Hinchcliffe. The active Top 5 in laps led at the circuit are Castroneves (179), Bourdais (173), Power (170), Hunter-Reay (151), and Rossi (151).
My pick to win: Race – Graham Rahal & Championship – Alex Palou – Rahal has been so consistently strong all year and is well overdue for a race win. I think this is the weekend he gets it done at a circuit where he has back to back Top 5’s and Firestone Fast 6 qualifying efforts. Palou will win the title with another one of his impeccable Dixon-esque Top 5’s to keep any drama of the title race entirely reliant on a mechanical issue.
My fantasy.indycar.com picks: Graham Rahal, Colton Herta, Alexander Rossi, & Ed Jones – You know my thoughts on Rahal. Herta is coming off a dominant performance at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and dominated earlier this year on the Streets of St. Pete. Rossi has owned this event and desperately needs a complete race weekend, this has to be the time right? Jones could be an excellent budget choice at just $20 this weekend and he’s been running stronger as of late.