Race Preview: Long Beach (INDYCAR)



Posted on 04/12/2023

Race Preview: Long Beach (INDYCAR)

Chip Ganassi Racing’s four-car Honda team will take on the Grand Prix of Long Beach this weekend seeking a 7th all-time victory in the historic race.

Defending Indianapolis 500 Winner Marcus Ericsson enters the third race of the season second in points (75), while Scott Dixon ranks third (67) and Alex Palou is fifth (60). Marcus Armstrong is set to return to the No. 11 Honda, this time making his debut in The American Legion’s red, white and blue livery after a successful entrance to the series in St. Petersburg. 

Chip Ganassi Racing has excelled at the Long Beach, California, event with 14 total podiums, including one across each of the past four races (2022: Palou, P3; 2021: Dixon, P3; 2019: Dixon, P3; 2018: Jones, P3).

CGR will compete on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn street course for 85 laps on Sunday, April 16, at 3 p.m. ET. Follow along on the team's social channels for firsthand access and learn how to tune in across the entire race weekend.

Marcus Ericsson - No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda

Ericsson: "I'm very excited for Long Beach after coming off two strong races to start the year and sitting second in the championship. Long Beach is always a highlight for me; It is a fun race with a great atmosphere with all the fans there. I have some unfinished business after crashing out in P3 position late in the race. I know we're going to have a quick car there. Chip Ganassi Racing is always strong on the street courses, so looking forward to a great weekend."

Ericsson is set to make his 50th career start with Chip Ganassi Racing on Sunday, becoming the 7th driver to reach that mark with the team (Dixon; Kimball; Vasser; Franchitti; Kanaan; Zanardi). 

The Kumla, Sweden, native holds three street course race wins under his belt, taking the checkered flag in both Nashville and Belle Isle in 2021 and this season's St. Pete opener.

Ericsson was running strong at Long Beach last season, advancing all the way to P3 on lap 66 (of 85 total laps) before making contact with the turn four wall on a restart. 

Scott Dixon - No. 9 PNC Bank Honda

Dixon: "I'm definitely excited for Long Beach race weekend. We've had some ups and downs there as a team, but it's at the top of the list as far as places you want to win at. Luckily, we've been at that spot but once you win it, the desire to repeat grows even stronger. I think we've had really good cars and the car at St. Pete was even much improved from the season before. It's all out and we're going to go for a strong qualifying and hopefully, we'll be in a position to challenge for the race win. I'm sure all four Ganassi cars are going to be very strong."

Dixon is off to another strong start, finishing on the podium (P3) in St. Petersburg and recording a P5 finish at Texas Motor Speedway. 

He has displayed superb pace on street courses in recent years. Over the past five INDYCAR seasons, Dixon boasts an INDYCAR-best average finishing position of 4.8 throughout the 21 street course races in that span, registering a top-10 finish in 19 of those events (90%). He was also the only driver to claim multiple wins at street course races last year (Toronto; Nashville). 

Dixon has secured 4 podium finishes at Long Beach before, including a win in 2015 (2021: P3; 2019: P3; 2016: P2).

Alex Palou - No. 10 Ridgeline Lubricants Honda

Palou: "This is one of my favorite events. We won the championship there in 2021, and we were really strong last year. We're coming from a podium in Texas, which was great for the 10 car. Hopefully, we can now snag the first win of the season."

Palou is eager to build on his recent success after an electrifying podium performance in Texas. 

The champion earned a spot on the podium in 3 of his 5 street course races in 2022 and gained more positions (+37) than any other driver over that span. 

In 2022, Palou set a track record for the fastest lap (1:07.2359) turned during a race, accomplishing the feat on lap 29 of 85. 

Marcus Armstrong - No. 11 American Legion Honda

Armstrong: "I've been looking forward to racing here for quite some time. It was one of the races that was circled on my imaginary calendar as a race I was really looking forward to. It's an iconic race, obviously, and I remember thinking about racing here when I was in math class back in school. I was in class then searching for visor camera on-boards. Now, I'm headed there to race this weekend in the American Legion Honda. I'm still watching the same on-boards I was watching as a kid and it is going to be a fun experience. I just want to hit the ground running like we did in St. Pete, maximize our performance and get into a good rhythm. I know the Chip Ganassi Racing package is going to be fantastic, as always. It's just going to be up to me to drive the wheels off it."

Armstrong is set for his second career NTT INDYCAR SERIES start, this time joining forces with The American Legion on the No. 11 Honda. 

The Christchuch, New Zealand, native scored 19 points in P11 position as the top-finishing rookie in his series debut on the Streets of St. Petersburg. The 22-year-old fought back from adversity after a tire puncture forced him back to P20 on the sixth lap of the race.