Monday Musings – 2018 Toyota GP of Long Beach

By Dylan Reynolds, The Open Wheel

My post-race feature for The Open Wheel continues with a collection of random thoughts following the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

  • Rossi dominates the weekend and race to take championship lead – Alexander Rossi delivered a massive statement of intent this weekend with an absolutely dominant performance at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Rossi was fastest in three of the four practice sessions, won the pole, and led 71 of the 85 laps en route to victory. Rossi was so close to winning at St. Pete, had far and away the best car and best drive at Phoenix, and now dominated the second biggest race on the calendar. He has to be the championship favorite through three races of the season.
  • Bourdais puts on a show – He won’t be happy with his P13 finish, but a solid argument could be made for Sebastien Bourdais as the driver of the race at Long Beach. Bourdais completed an iconic pass on three cars in one turn with this incredible move. Bourdais was penalized for crossing the pit road line as part of the pass but after giving back a position to Dixon he immediately attacked him again with another breathtaking pass. He also delivered some incredible quotes after the race: “Race Control could have waited a couple seconds before closing the pits, but they didn’t and we went to the back where we had to race idiots. I was racing (Charlie) Kimball side-by-side and he gives me no room, and he bent both of my toe links on the right side. It was pretty much game over from there. I made a mistake because of it trying to pass him again later into Turn 9. The car wouldn’t turn anymore. Then, in the next corner, Jordan King felt like a hero and took us out. After that, I had to deal with another idiot, Matheus Leist, who tried to crash both of us a couple of times.”
  • Veach earns Top 5 in just his fifth race – Zach Veach delivered a solid, mistake-free race to earn his first Top 5 in the Verizon IndyCar Series in a race where so many were making mistakes. The rookie showed some mettle and it was nice to see him get a solid result so early in the season. Veach spoke afterwards and how much faster he was at Barber Motorsports Park in testing this offseason compared to when he was thrown into a car at Ed Carpenter Racing as a substitute last season. He has a nice chance to back up this result at a rare track where he has experience at this level this weekend.
  • Carlin shows improvement over the weekend – After dismal results in the first two weekends of the season, Verizon IndyCar Series newcomers Carlin showed progress at Long Beach. Max Chilton qualified 15th and Charlie Kimball earned the team’s first Top 10 in the series with a P10 finish. It’s still not what the team is looking for, but its considerably better than the first two weekends and the team is happy to see the improvement. Here’s what Kimball had to say afterwards: “We got a little lucky with yellows, but we’ll take some luck with a new team building our foundation in INDYCAR. A lot of credit to the guys though – they’ve worked so hard since October to make this happen. A top-10 finish is a start and hopefully moving forward we can qualify better so we don’t have to work so hard to get back into the top 10 moving forward.”